Black & White image of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe – The Original Blonde Bombshell

With ample remarkable advancements in hair technology from numerous professional brands, blonde/platinum, and other fashion colours have become spectacularly popular. If done correctly there truly is no comparison as far as artificial hair colour goes. However, with the increasing popularity of these colours, I’ve noticed through talking with a lot of clients that there are some colossal misconceptions with regards to attaining these, thus as a qualified hairstylist, I feel it’s my duty to elaborate on the process/processes involved. I’ve seen some horrifying dye jobs, that have left clients in tears. I’d like to help you make an educated decision should you decide to continuing this pilgrimage towards platinum locks that would make the Mother of Dragons envious.

There are many factors to consider so bare with me. We’ll start with virgin (natural) hair colour first.

Everyone with any hair colour, depending on the depth (this refers to the lightness or darkness of hair colour) has an underlying pigment (melanin). It’s present it the cortex of each hair strand (excluding white/grey hair). Melanin is divided into two factions which each contains two sub-divisions, namely eumelanin (darker/closely spaced melanin), and pheomelanin (lighter/less closely spaced melanin). see figure 1.

figure depicting devision of melanin in hair colour depth
Figure 1:

Essentially, hair colour consists of varying ratios of primary colours. All three primary colours are present in hair colour. Depending on the current depth of your hair, going platinum will involve bleach (lightening powder) mixed with the required volume of Hydrogen PEROXIDE (H2O2) to obtain the desired degree of lightening. We are trying to get rid of as much pigment as possible. Hence, If your hair is comparatively dark and you’d fancy going platinum you might (read most probably will) need to do what is referred to as a double process. This refers to more than one lightening process I suggest following the advice of an experienced, trusted stylist. Application is as important as knowing which, and how many different formulas need to be concocted.

Finding the correct stylist is crucial! Be aware that, as with any profession there are different types of salons and different types of stylists. Some establishments and stylists that don’t care about the condition of your hair, just as long as they pocket their money at the end of the day. Similarly, certain clients that are not concerned about the condition of the hair and only care to focus on the colour they so desperately want. Until of course, their hair breaks off in an unappealing manner – referred to as a chemical cut. To you, my dearest client I say proceed with CAUTION, be Patient. Unhealthy, dry, breaking hair is unattractive, no matter what colour you paint it – pun intended.

You should be able to gauge a stylist’s level of experience by listening to how they explain the process during the consultation. Lightener can be a colossal mistake waiting to happen in the hands of the careless/inexperienced/uneducated. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Blonde, especially platinum is an intricate, and often costly process, ensure that you have it done correctly the first time and you shouldn’t have problems in future. In my opinion the biggest damage takes place when bleach is overlapped time and time again.

Now, a note to habitual box colour users – I’ll look away disapprovingly. Don’t tackle this in your bathroom on your own unless you genuinely know what you’re doing!!! If you use these products especially if you’ve coloured your hair black/dark brown please don’t set yourself up for disappointment by thinking that you’d be able to transition from one end of the colour spectrum to the other without being stuck somewhere in-between for a while. There are exceptions, a few rare exceptions. However, as the norm please take note – no matter who is doing your hair, no matter what product is being used there simply aren’t any miracles in this respect. Happy endings are chimerical at best. If you have black, box colour on your hair and you’re aiming for a platinum pixie – that’s fine, if however, you’re growing your hair – proceed with extreme caution.

One of the most common questions I receive is: “Why is my hair yellow/brassy?”. Clients are normally satisfied with their hair when they leave the salon on the day of lightening, the reason being that usually a TONER was applied. A toner is used to cancel out unwanted tones in the hair using the colour wheel. Toner refers to a semi-permanent colour that is mixed with a low volume hydrogen peroxide and ideally a colour that contains none or slight concentrations of ammonia. This is essential because your hair has just been through a chemical process and in order to maintain the integrity of the hair, it’s just a safer option. However, because it’s a semi-permanent colour it WILL unfortunately, wash out. How long it takes to wash out depends on assorted factors, for instance, porosity is a prime factor. Thus, to avoid this brassy/yellow look, I would recommend a toner every 4 to 8 weeks. Various clients also enquire about a purple shampoo. This is a viable option to keep your blonde from turning brassy, however, only if your hair is lightened to the appropriate level. Refer to the colour wheel. See figure 2.

Colour wheel depicting primary and secondary colours
Figure 2:

Purple will only cancel out a yellow hue. However, if your hair is slightly more brassy closer to an orange (copper) tone there simply is no use for a purple shampoo as it doesn’t cancel out orange and only a toner containing blue, green or a mixture of both will aid in correcting the unwanted tone.

It’s also important to consider your BUDGET, blonde is (generally) a rich girl’s colour, however with the right advice from the right stylist it’s possible to tailor this colour to your budget e.g. balayage is a great alternative that’s more cost effective. Maintenance is a prerequisite to keeping your colour looking opulent. Depending on what you’re aiming for you could be expected to repeat the lightening process anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. Furthermore, you need to consider a toner which should ideally be done at least once a month to forestall brassy tones. In addition to these, you need the correct PROFESSIONAL (read salon exclusive) products. Perhaps in-salon treatments will be required. Regular trims are a necessity. Along with a suitable thermal protector for heat styling. For more information about healthy hair check here!

I will never be convinced that you’ll have healthy artificially created tresses by method of cheap brands or products. In all my years of working in the industry, I have yet to come across such a lucky girl. Instagram displays thousands of beautiful pictures, however, remember that these are done by a top-notch, experienced stylist that knows colour theory and precision application back to front and if not definitely obtained by using extensions/weaves.

The conclusion = If you have the means to maintain this colour than I’d definitely recommend finding out if the adage is true… Do blondes truly have more fun!?

To further assist you in achieving your platinum dreams underneath mentioned are a couple of stylists I truly trust and would recommend to you, my BFF: 🙂 xoxo

David Gilson (Carlton)

Amber Keane (Carlton)

Kristy Cochius (Smudge)

Ayesha Daniels (Glow Hair Design)

Moeneeba Schloss