When it comes to lightening your hair, we do so with the goal of preserving the integrity of each strand and keeping hair healthy and hydrated. This is why we often have to have the conversation with clients as to why you can’t go from brunette to blonde in just one visit. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the science behind going blonde and why it takes time to go from Belle brown to Barbie blonde.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND LIGHTENING YOUR HAIR
When you lighten your hair, you’re essentially dissolving the natural melanin within the hair shaft that creates the natural color in your hair. Depending on the darkness and unique composition of your hair strands, your stylist may choose to use a lifting color to lighten your hair, or a dissolvent like bleach.
The lightening agent penetrates the hair shaft and then reacts with the pigment molecules, dissolving the color and ultimately lightening the hair. While the lightening technique is great to help you achieve your desired color, the use of these lightening agents also causes the natural fatty acids of your hair to break down, weakening the hair. In addition to this, lightening your hair will also affect the texture, making hair more porous or open- making it difficult for hair to maintain moisture and ultimately more brittle. That’s why it’s important to understand your hair texture, thickness, and history before making any lightening alterations.
WHO SHOULDN'T GO BLONDE
As one of the more damaging treatments you can do to your hair, there are some important things to think about before committing to a lighter shade. If you’ve never dyed your hair before and are looking to take your brown locks to a new blonde, your hair will be able to handle the lightening better than hair that has been colored before.
Every time you process your hair, you’re changing the color and composition of the strands at a molecular level. For those of us who have dabbled with a variety of colors, shades, and looks, don’t let your current color fool you; your hair has history and the shaft holds it. This means if you went blonde, then red, then dark brown, and now you’d like to go back to blonde, that red color still exists deep within your hair as well as the damage from originally going blonde!
Severely damaged hair is prone to breaking, and lightening it will only further weaken your locks. If you’ve noticed your hair is breaking or brittle due to prior damage, going blonde will only make this worse. An easy way to tell if your hair is damaged is by how quickly the ends dry compared to your roots.
In addition to damaged hair, some natural hair colors may have undertones that will not accomplish your desired color without severe damage, resulting in a reddish or orange result that will need time and multiple treatments to accomplish. And for those of us with naturally fine hair that is already prone to breakage, lightening may be too harsh on hair, causing breakage and making already-fine hair look finer.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
While going blonde may sound like an exciting new change, there are a few things to consider before doing so. First, going blonde is high maintenance. Not only will it affect your hair health and composition, resulting in the need to use additional/different products than what you’re used to, but if you’re naturally dark you’ll need to keep up with pesky roots. This brings us to our second point - more frequent salon visits will lead to higher hair maintenance costs, and make sure to account for additional treatments and trims to keep hair healthy.
Another thing to consider before going blonde is your typical hair styling and routines. If you love your flat iron and high ponytails, you’ll need to remember that lightening hair causes damage, as does these styling efforts and will likely lead to more damage and ultimately breakage. As always, we recommend using a leave-in hair protectant (like this one) with any styling tool use.
THE MULTI-VISIT APPROACH
If you walk into a salon with dark hair and ask to go platinum blonde, you’ll likely be told that these results will take multiple visits and time to achieve. This is because lightening hair and removing color pigments takes time to avoid too much stress on the hair at once. For those who have never colored their hair before, you may be able to achieve your desired look in one visit, but we’d advise against this as an expectation.
Depending on your hair history and texture, your stylist will be able to make a plan to help you achieve your desired blonde. This is why it’s important to start with a consultation where you’ll be asked your hair history and your stylist can take a closer look at the texture of your hair. Our greatest piece of advice here is to be completely honest about your hair history; even if you haven’t colored it in a few years, your ends will still hold color which will affect treatment.
Your stylist will also likely factor protective treatments into your coloring plan to help restore the protein and moisture to your hair. This may include Olaplex or B3 color additives - or other recommended services by your H&F Stylist.
While changing your look can be exciting, we want to make sure we’re setting realistic expectations to help you achieve your desired look. These insights will provide you with the information needed to decide if going blonde is right for your hair history, routine, and wallet. However, most importantly is to discuss your goals with your H&F Stylist so they can create a custom coloring plan and recommend products that will work great with your specific hair composition.