A change from a brunette to a blonde may have been one of the best things that happened in my personal "beauty" department. It's not that blondes have more fun - my life was just as fun as a brunette - but I feel more me now then I have ever felt in my life. A few failed attempts before had me steer clear from the blonde for years, but alas! There isn't anything bad without some good in it: a head half full of grays ( the early grays sadly do exist), and a stylist's mistake during a regular touch-up appointment, led to trying a lighter then typical shade, a success of which gave me enough confidence to go ahead and try a head-dive into blonde.
The best decision ever.
Although in my much too many years of covering up the grays I've tried more looks then I can count, I have only seen the "dark" side of hair coloring. Sure, the gentle products, sure the filter on the shower head - the all around common advice that I heard everywhere but never really implemented, because, seriously what's the worst thing that can happen to dark hair? Not much. The highlights was not something that I practiced at the salon but rather let the sun do the job for me ( bad, I know now. I didn't then). It is only natural that thoughts of changing anything in my typical approach did not come to mind when trading the brunette life for blonde, and I quickly learned that it was a wrong assumption on my side. As beauty industry is filled with all sorts of things that money can buy, it is easy to spend a lot more then necessary on things that are not worth investing in. But then there are those few things that will give you the bang for your buck for sure.
* an excellent colorist.
Seems simple, but not really so. The saying "if you want to know how good the stylist is, look at his/her blondes" is true. Wonderful as a colorist may be with darker colors, it is whether or not he or she can create a beautiful blonde and maintain hair's integrity is where the true test comes in. While maintaining the roots is not as much of a difficulty, getting to the initial color is a task that not everyone can perform. This is definitely a worth-while investment, especially when coloring long hair. Look for a stylist that specializes in color only , and then look at the blondes he/she created. I will tell you from personal experience, that age or professional "xx years of work" do not matter as much as the person's talent and ability. A young, but talented stylist like Aubrey Nelson, that's on top of new releases and discoveries can do better then the successfully established veteran who thinks that his/her way is always the best.
* color-less hair products and purple shampoo.
I learned that one pretty fast when my perfectionist-self followed the advice to moisturize from a genius colorist and went ahead and drenched my tresses in the great morrocanoil treatment ... only to wake up to a slightly orange hue that my hair picked up. Everyone's hair is different, but should that be the case in your hair's "attitude", purple shampoo zaps the unwanted color right out and restores the creamy blonde one may be wishing for. Beauty products adjusted for blondes took residency in my bathroom, as well as purple shampoo and conditioners. Davine's Silver Alchemic and Kevin Murphy's Blonde Angel are my two favorites. Even though the price point is high, 4 months later I still have nearly full jars and bottles, so the investment is well worth it. Both Davine's and Kevin Murphy's products are formulated without harmful chemicals and contain ingredients that help to restore the hair back to healthy state.
* you can over-moisturize.
I never knew such a thing existed, but apparently it does. When hair lacks structure, too much moisture will make it mushy-gummy and extra stretchy leading to breakage if not taken care of properly. As with everything, "too much of a good thing" is never good and balance is a must when dealing with chemically blonde tresses. Luckily, excess moisture problem is easy enough to correct, and Kerastase home treatments are great at it. If you don't want to bother yourself, many salons offer the treatment on site.
* invest in a great blow-dryer.
While the best thing all around is to naturally air-dry, as a working professional with a schedule that is booked for 36 hour long days, I simply do not have the time. Harry Josh hair dryer had a buzz going around it for a while, and it is worth every word and every penny. It magically cuts the drying time in half and leaves the hair healthier then before each time. Worth the investment, definitely. The quality heat-styling tool is also a must, if you prefer to curl or straighten hair. Look for the newly developed infra-red heat implementing tools like ghd flatirone or the sultra bombshell wand. Cost is high, but it's hair's condition and health on the other side of the coin, so you decide if this is a necessary investment for you. Everyone's hair condition is different, so heat styling tools may or may not be a necessity.
* get a great cut
No joke, this is one of the best things you can do all around after getting your dream hair color. Not only a trim/cut is the best way to condition hair, but it definitely makes a blonde life damage-free because, well, you don't need to spend any extra time on styling up those locks, because they are pre-styled by a great cut automatically. Just like with color, look for a cut-only stylist that fits your persona ( don't go to a creative hair salon if you prefer classic layers no matter how great of reviews they have. you most likely will not be happy), explain your need/want and let them do the magic. A hair that has a great foundation will look fabulous no matter the weather condition or time of the day, and "woke up like this" will actually be a phrase that will make you feel good saying it. If in San Francisco area, Barrow salon will transform your mane into a magazine cover worthy head. Do visit. Zoe Deschanel didn't pop on Barrow's instagram for nothing, you know.
And because a great hair leads to fun explorations, above are some of my pinterest favorites and a few fun and easy tutorials ( 1,2, 3, 4, 5) and a great hair color guide to keep in mind when wanting to try a big change.