Now that the countdown to 2019 is officially on, it’s time to take the plunge and do something you’ve always wanted to do but were too terrified to try: go blonde.
If you’re like most people with curly and kinky hair, the thought of dying your hair is terrifying and daunting. And while some of those fears are valid (it is extra work and can be damaging if not done well), the payoff can be worth the care — especially when you find a shade that complements your natural skin tones and highlights the create a halo effect around your face.
We sat down with one of the country’s top colorists, who specializes in color for naturally textured hair, the Director of Color at Cole Stevens Salon, Ashlee “Fifi” Durante, to learn how to achieve the energizing and playful shade of blonde you’ve always dreamed of without completely destroying your hair.
Get clear about whether or not you have virgin hair
“I would recommend going lighter on virgin — unprocessed — hair,” Durante offered as the first and most critical step to determining whether you can go blonde.
“Virgin hair” is most hairstylists’ terminology for hair that has never been treated with color or any other processing (such as a relaxer or perm) before.
If your hair is not virgin, Durante recommends waiting until most of your hair is in its natural state. This can be achieved by cutting processed hair completely off or simply growing it out.
Set up a consultation with a colorist
“The consultation is key,” Durante emphasized. While many people head to see a stylist at a salon when they want to go blonde, it’s important to see a stylist who understands color well and understands the potential impact on natural textures.
If during the consultation the stylist does not explain if and how your curl pattern can be affected, it’s best to find someone who does understand the risks and takes them seriously.
It’s also most helpful to visit salons that specialize in natural textures when thinking about color.
Ask your colorist to do a strand test
The most important step during the consultation is to “definitely [have the colorist] do a ‘strand test’ to ensure the hair is virgin before proceeding.”
The stylist should also know to start from the middle of the shaft of your hair to the ends, saving the roots for last to prevent what is called “hot roots” — a term used by hair stylists to describe when the roots of your hair are noticeably warmer in color (more red/orange) than the ends of the hair.
Your stylist should then be able to determine, based on the strand test, if the rest of your hair will ‘lift’ (read: lighten) safely and properly. If it does not, you may have to wait for more virgin hair to grow out before proceeding.
Prepare to wear your hair in its natural texture more often
Durante offers exciting advice when it comes to styling newly blonde hair. “[While] it is possible to go from a level 2 to a blonde in one sitting,” said Durante. “I let my curly girls know that if they’re going blonde all over it’s a good idea to wear their natural curls 90 percent of the time.” This will reduce any extra stress (and loosening of the curl pattern) that can be caused by heat styling, as your newly lighten curls will be under some degree of stress and require tender love and care.
Be diligent about hair care
“Blondes should use Wella Brilliance Shampoo and Conditioner for moisture, and Well Enrich Shampoo and Conditioner for strengthening after dying their hair,” according to Durante. However, they should absolutely avoid the temptation to overdo it on protein treatments. While they may seem like a solution to prevent breakage, they should only be done once a month at most.
Most importantly, regular salon visits (Durante suggests visiting once every four weeks) will help keep your color looking its best and keep the integrity of your hair to prevent damage.
And, if you must heat style, “be sure to use Wella EIMI Thermal Image to protect your sensitive strands.”