Hair
April 13, 2021

How To (Properly) Go Blonde

by Danielle Gay

Photography: Ashleigh Larden

This is how to go blonde the right way.

It’s one of those existential beauty crises: how does one go blonde in a way that won’t totally ruin your hair? We’ve all dreamt of achieving a heavenly golden hue at some point, but usually the cost, effort and fear around what will happen to our hair texture is enough to prevent us from biting the bullet and actually doing it. But it turns out that going from a black or brunette colour to blonde doesn’t mean walking out of the salon with damaged hair: the idea that blonde = damage is one big beauty myth. 

“It’s definitely a myth!” says Nic Shiun, the owner of Eclat Salon and Schwarzkopf Professional Guest Artist, although there is one big caveat. “I would not by any means attempt it at home, and my recommendation will always be to go to a trusted hairdresser.” But according to Shiun, whose salon is well-versed in a blonde transformation, as long as you opt for a good salon that uses high-quality products, there shouldn’t be an issue. “A reminder that you need to keep in mind that your result will always depend on the current integrity of your hair and this needs to be assessed by your hairdresser,” he adds. 

Here, we quizzed Shiun on what else to know before taking the plunge.

What is the healthiest way to go blonde?

“To be realistic, you can’t compare blonde hair texture to the natural or untreated hair texture, as they would never be the same, but making sure your hairdresser is using reputable products is the best way to avoid the ugly dry frizzy blonde,” says Shiun. He warns there are a lot of different lighteners on the market, and that the quality of product has a direct correlation with the hair condition. While Shiun’s salon uses Schwarzkopf Professional BLONDME Premium Lightener, it’s all about chatting with your hairdresser to ensure they use a high quality product that will give you the “cleanest lift in colour” and yet “keeps the integrity of the hair”. Shiun adds: “That’s very important to me as a hairdresser and is the difference between someone leaving happy or not.”

Can you go blonde without bleaching hair?

Well, that depends. “If your hair colour is on natural level 6 (dark blonde) then yes, you can go blonde with certain products, without bleaching your hair but your hair has to be virgin (untreated hair).” Otherwise, a form of bleach will be involved in the process.

How long does it take to go from dark hair to blonde hair?

“The time frame is all depending on the hair length, hair condition and underlying pigment and what type of transformation it is,” Shiun says. That underlying pigment, or whether you’ve had your hair coloured previously, is one of the biggest factors that determines how long you’ll be in the salon chair. “For instance if my client has natural hair, level three (dark brown) shoulder length hair and the desired result is a clean blonde, with the right lightening products I can achieve this, in approximately one 8 hour session whilst maintaining the condition of the hair. But if my clients hair has been box dyed to level 3 twice and they want to get level 10 ash blonde, we will have to do it in a few sessions to remove the artificial pigment. This will take more time, approximately 6 to 8 hours for each session, at least 2-3 sessions.”

What should we know about maintenance before going blonde?

Unfortunately, what isn’t a myth is that blonde = high-maintenance. “If you want to go blonde you will have to prepare for maintenance. This means regular trips to the salon (every 4- 6 weeks) to touch up the blonding.” That’s often where the costs come in: keeping blonde hair healthy requires salon upkeep and regular appointments can add up. But again, it all depends on what colour you’re trying to maintain. “If you’re platinum blond you will need more regular trips to the salon than if you have a lower maintenance blonding technique applied, for example balayage.”

Shiun also reminds us to budget for home-care products as well as additional in-salon treatments, like intensive moisture treatments designed to hydrate and repair the hair bonds. “Your hairdresser isn’t trying to just upsell you products,” he insists. 

What are your top tips for caring for blonde hair?

“I recommend investing in three types of products to maintain hair health once going blonde.

  1. A product that strengthens and nourishes the hair: the Schwarzkopf BLONDME All Blondes Rich Mask intensively and deeply nourishes medium-to-coarse blonde hair, making it feel strong and soft. 
  2. A product which seals the cuticles: try BLONDEME Blonde Wonders Glaze Mist creates a hygroscopic film that seals the hair’s surface, protecting it against external aggressors. 
  3. A product which maintains the blonde tone/colour: if you need to remove brassiness or  neutralise yellow undertones try, BLONDEME Cool Blondes Neutralising Shampoo/Neutralising Spray Conditioner and Neutralising Mask.”

Shiun’s parting words of wisdom? “The last tip I would offer is don’t shampoo your hair too often—try to make friends with dry shampoo. Prolonging washes will keep your blonde cleaner, minimising the build-up of minerals which can dull your hair colour.”

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