five things i learned when i went blonde

Maintaining the shade & other observations.


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I remember reading a magazine article — probably found in Vogue, but who's to say — four years ago. The subject? A reemerging prominence of blonde. According to the text, platinum was the new color among the fashion elite: models, actresses, a few editors and bloggers, et cetera. It was a short article, and the accompanying editorial images showed models with various shades of platinum and gold hair. Some were naturally brunette; you could tell. Flipping through the pages got me thinking... what if I did that? What if I went platinum? 

But, I was nineteen and a poor college kid, so I quickly dismissed the notion; platinum can be pricey, and no way would I attempt to do it myself. Still, the to-blonde-or-not-to-blonde debate popped up in my brain from time to time. There was a period about two years ago, when silver "granny hair" was the trend. Again, I debated. And again, I was still in college, so I talked myself out of it.

Emily Weiss (of Into the Gloss and Glossier fame) was one of the biggest influencers in the blonde dilemma. She, a natural brunette, had gone platinum around five years ago — or, in her words, "as blonde as chemically possible." And her hair length was like mine at the time, so hey, twinsies! In my Pinterest search for hair inspiration I'd stumbled across her account of the blonde experience, which I read multiple times over the coming years (of course, it's up on Into the Gloss). It gave me an idea of what to expect from the whole process, and I researched costs, care products, maintenance, the works. But the final nails in the blonde coffin were the shocking amount of brunette-to-blonde ladies I follow on Instagram. (We're talking at least three.) Keep in mind, I never wanted the Marilyn treatment — that would be too yellow for me. But a cool, silvery blonde à la Daenerys Targaryen was the ultimate goal.

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I've been blonde for a week now. Five-and-a-half hours in the salon chair, including the cut, was totally worth it. Some strands are still a little on the yellow-gold side, thanks to dyeing it back to my natural color in October, but we're making progress. Still, being blonde for a week has taught me a few things.

 

1. Blonde is work.

When I hit college, I never spent more than fifteen minutes on my hair in the morning, and even that was pushing it. If I was running late, air-drying it wasn't a problem; dark hair dries fast. In contrast, blonde takes a little more TLC — more on the shower routine to come.

It's a personal preference of course, but I definitely feel like I need to dry my hair before I leave the house; wet blonde hair looks dirty to me. So, I blow dry. The kicker here is that blow drying takes longer now that I'm blonde. It's give and take. I set my alarm fifteen minutes earlier and thank the lord for my blow drying cream. 

About the shower routine: purple conditioner is my new best friend. But like all best friends, you have to put your time in with them. In an effort to aid the anti-yellowing mission, I've been cleansing my hair as per usual, then leaving Kevin Murphy's Blonde Angel treatment on for two-ish minutes. It doesn't sound like a lot of extra shower time — but this is coming from a girl who never had to condition or treat her hair, so believe me, I notice it.

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2. Blonde feels different.

And I mean both the physical and mental sense. Density-speaking, my hair is very thick, however, the individual strands are very fine. They're silky, straight, refuse to hold a curl without product, and get a little stringy if I go more than twenty-four hours between washes.

Going blonde got rid of most of that. No complaints here, as I'm a fan of the drier texture. My hair holds its style for longer and feels almost feathery, which is to be expected after bleaching. It does tangle more easily now, but hey, I didn't expect to have everything.

In regards to overall mentality, blonde gave me a dose of confidence. I feel self-assured in my own decisions and personal style already, but blonde took it to the next level. More on this in the next point.

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3. Blonde commands attention.

Especially in the establishments I frequented as a brunette. Platinum blonde is a head-turner. In the days following my transformation, I noticed more double-takes from the baristas at the coffee shop near work and the regulars at the gym. It's a blessing and a curse; obviously, I don't feel super-sure and confident in myself twenty-four seven. Having people look at me can be the last thing I want. But in the first week of blondeness, it's put more spring in my step and added some sense of empowerment. It feels more rebellious and daring — and considering the fact that I never did anything wild or crazy as a teenager, I like to think I'm making up for it now. (Don't worry Mom, this is probably the craziest I'll get.)

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4. Blonde is a different look.

Well, obviously. Platinum hair is an accessory all on its own, so I've been dressing to compliment it. In short, this meant wearing a lot of black at the beginning. Wearing all-black isn't unusual for me, but it's more intentional now. I'm finding myself drawn to sleek, edgy looks (somewhat influenced by Charlize Theron Atomic Blonde), as they set the hair off. Fortunately, my closet maintains its neutral-palette trademark, so there aren't any colors or clothes I feel the need to avoid. My makeup stays neutral too, though the frequency of wearing winged-out eyeliner has doubled.

Another thing that needed changing was the inventory of bobby pins. They're totally necessary, yet so easily forgotten. All of my bobby pins are dark brown or black, and all of my hair ties are dark brown or black. This is fine and dandy if I'm just tossing the top layers of hair up for a trip to the gym, but I did buy blonde-tinted pins (and clear hair bands) just in case I want to attempt a serious hairdo.

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Also regarding appearance: post-blonde, I've had several friends and family members comment that I look like my mom. In my life, I can count the number of times I've heard that on one hand. To be honest, I don't think I look like either of my parents. (Sorry guys, it's just how the genetics worked out.) While my parents and I agree that I bear stronger resemblance to my two grandmothers, most acquaintances will say I look like my dad. My mom's hair is a lot lighter than my natural color anyways, so oddly enough, going blonde changed the perception of which parent I take after.

 

5. Blonde was what I wanted.

Remember when I said I've never done anything rebellious? That includes my hair. I had cherry-red highlights for a brief stint in high school, but my hair has stayed natural for the vast majority of my life. When I first told friends I wanted to go platinum, some reacted with skepticism. They couldn't quite picture it — which is totally fine. The important thing is that I knew what I wanted, I'd done my research, and it was my decision. Having the confidence to make a choice is challenging, especially when the feedback is mixed. Blonde was, ultimately, a reminder of staying true to myself and what I wanted. I love my new hair — and now that they've seen it, so does everyone else.

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Cut and color by Locksmythe Salon.

Outfit details: Urban Outfitters jumpsuit, vintage blazer, Levi's 501 skinny jeans.