I’m naturally dark-haired, so I am either rocking jet black or dark brown hair. Suffice to say, when I was a brat child, I forced my mother to buy me all the brunette barbies. Red-heads were acceptable, black hair was preferable (but rare), but the blonde was a no-go. I felt, as one of the only dark-haired children in my friend group, I needed toys or characters that represented me. At one point in my very angst-y, gothic teen years, I swore off blonde because I thought dark hair magically conflated to brain size or an innate capacity for deep thinking.
I was wrong. These days, I’m all for it. So, I (stupidly?) asked my social network for their thoughts on my blonde ambition. Some people were excited for me, but most responded with confusion. I was told I was “too dark, “too Italian,” “too weird,” or “too pale” to go blonde. It was disappointing, but I guess I asked for it. The thing is, I believe the responses were rooted in that “dumb blonde” stigma I would so like to see just stop.
I just have to say: the haters made the rebellious glam girl in me want to go blonde even more.
So, here’s a picture of me as a “blonde,” after playing with the Facetune app a little too enthusiastically:
In my adventures to gain knowledge about this quest, I found out everything I needed to know about turning toward the bottle. I had a hair consultation at two fancy hair salons, asked friends who went blonde, and did some research of my own. Note: I haven’t dyed my locks yet, but it’s happening, I swear!
Back away from the dye aisle.
Unless your hair is a mere shade away from the blonde, dying your hair much, much lighter probably requires the aesthetic vision and expertise of a professional. When I had my hair consultation, it was made immediately clear to me that certain shades would look better and that I would need a lot of upkeep, as I have 1) grey hair, 2) thick, dry hair, and 3) rather quickly-growing hair.
Know what you like.
I’ve been fantasizing about a nice honey blonde shade a la Jennifer Lawrence, but how in the hell would I know that unless I poured through countless pictures of celebrities (it’s a tough life)? I recommend saving a dozen or so pictures of hair colors that you’re interested in and some that you’re not. My consultant was honest enough to tell me exactly which hair colors he thought would work best and the process by which we’d achieve that color. He also let me know how we would best avoid any brassy tones or extreme hair damage. By the way, know whether you’d like highlights, low-lights, or one shade. Know whether you want to have a more warm undertone or a cooler one. This all goes back to the ‘see the professional’ tip: if you don’t know, ask!
Don’t skimp on quality or price.
Sometimes what you pay for is what you get. First off, do your research. Ask your friends with gorgeous dye jobs where they got their hair done. Yelp is super helpful, Instagram is telling, and the salon’s social media can speak volumes. If Salon A (with great reviews and awesome before/after shots) is double the price of Salon B (which seems cool and clean enough), go with Salon A. You want to be comfortable, and you want to trust someone with your mane. If it means paying for quality, now’s the time to fork it over.
Play it gradually.
You know what’s not cute? Hair falling out, extreme breakage, or wonky dye jobs. If you need to go from dark brown to light brown to blonde, it might be worth it. I’m a bit of a baby, so I’d probably take it slow so my brain won’t experience PTSD.
Upkeep can be a bitch.
The reality is that dyed hair can change – sometimes for the worse. The texture can become brittle, stiff, and dry, and the hair may require some serious extra love and attention. New blondes should know that root upkeep can be costly and that some experimenting with color-saving shampoos and conditioners will go a long way. Newbie blondes have told me the following products are divine:
- John Frieda Colour Renew Correcting Shampoo, aka Purple Shampoo
- Wen’s Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner
- Living Proof’s Restore Shampoo
Also, consider going sans-Parabens (preservatives found in hair products), which I personally think makes all the difference in any hair product.
Prepare for a new look altogether.
A change in your hair color will beg for a change in your palette. For me, I imagine a day where I can rock a slick black outfit with light hair and red lips as someone with dark hair, red lips, and a black dress on dark hair comes off a bit rock-n-roll when I’m really trying to come off as a Hollywood starlet. With the new hue, you’ll get to experiment with colors and styles you never did before, which is probably half the reason I want to dye my hair. Change can be a good thing.
Good luck, Godspeed, and go blonde!