My hair is something I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with. Whilst I think its one of my best assets because its thick and healthy I also am never fully happy with the way it looks. I find it falls to flat after a day and I actually, believe it or not have less hair on one side of my head than the other! Another contributing factor to this love hate story is that I naturally have extremely dark hair, which means colouring it and trying to lighten it can be a real struggle when you don’t like warm undertones and this is what I want to talk to you about today.
I was quite happy with having pitch black hair till about the age of 19 and the I decided I really wanted to get the bronde look that a lot of celebrities including J.Lo were sporting at the time. I thought it would pretty simple, I would go to my local salon get a few highlights put in and voila that would be it! But this was not going to be an easy journey and its only now, almost 10 years later and after visiting countless hair stylists that I can finally say I have the hair colour I always wanted!
When I first lightened my hair and got a full head of foil highlights put in (balyage wasn’t really a thing at the time!) my hair went a very orange bronzy shade which I absolutely hated! I tried to explain to my stylist countless numbers of times that I wanted it to look cool toned and blonde but she explained that because my hair was so dark the red undertones would always show and achieving that colour was impossible. Since that first experience I visited lots and lots of stylist always achieving the same result, and the lighter I went the more ‘orange’ my hair looked. Finally I had a real breakdown just before my wedding. I decided to splurge and go to a celebrity hair stylist in Madrid, she was doing a variation of the balyage technique (which I didn’t really know much about at the time) and she was 100% sure she would be able to give me the colour I was after without damaging my hair. After spending 6 hours at the salon, I returned home in tears because my hair was literally as warm as it had ever been. I couldn’t possibly get married like this so I went back to my usual hair stylist and asked her to just die it a chocolate brown shade which was as cool as possible so that I would look ‘ok’ for my wedding.
This, I later learnt was actually a huge mistake, because lifting dark coloured shades from your hair is a real struggle, but I did’t know any better at the time. I was really scarred by this experience and avoided touching my hair altogether for almost a year, but eventually I found a stylist who specialised in Asian hair and she claimed she could definitely achieve ashy blonde highlights which wouldn’t have a warm undertone, and she had pictures to prove it, so I decided to give it a go. This stylist definitely achieved the colour I wanted, but this only lasted for a few weeks and then my hair started to go really brassy. Also she had gone for a more of a dip die effect as opposed to balyage and I really did’t like thhe whole dark roots and blonde ends look. Plus to top it all off, after going to her for a year my hair was in terrible condition and the ends were so damaged that they would just crumble when I touched them.
By this point I was super desperate! but at this time I found Despina Sianou – literally a hair magician! She, for the first time gave me an ashy blonde balyage which simulated the effect of traditional highlights which is what I wanted, as I wanted the lightness to come from the top and my hair to look fairly even all over. I also chopped most of my hair off and since I have been visiting Despina it has maintained itself in great condition. In this post I wanted to share with you the tips I have learnt from her along the way and tell you about how I maintain the colour and condition of my hair.
1. You Will Need Toners
This was the first thing Despina said to me when I first visited her. No matter how much magic your colourist works on your hair, if you have reddish undertones and especially if you have had dark colour in your hair before, red/organe undertones are bound to show up after a few washes, so if you want to maintain an ashy shade in your hair you will need to tone every month and half to two months depending on how your hair reacts to the colour. In order to tone the brassiness down the toner may need to be a little darker then the colour you had gone for initially, but in my opinion I would rather have my hair a little darker than having it look orange. Toners also have an added benefit, and its that they will bring the glossiness and shine back that bleached hair tends to loose after a few washes.
2. Olaplex Is a Must
Despina was the first colourist to tell me that Olaplex can be used as a stand alone treatment and that actually thats the best way to use it! If you haven’t heard of Olaplex, it is an in -salon treatment that works at a molecular level to repair the broken bonds in your hair, which can be caused by heat or chemical damage. When you bleach your hair one of the first signs is that it becomes dry and brittle and almost feels like it has been burnt, and this is exactly what Olaplaex aims to repair. Although Despina does use it mixed in with the hair colour to avoid damaging your hair, she also recommended doing this as an overnight treatment once a month and that has literally transformed my hair, so I cannot recommend it enough!
3. Deep Condition But Don’t Overdo It
Another recommendation from Despina, was to use a hair mask every time I washed my hair instead of using conditioner. I ws already doing this most of the time, but about a year ago I found my hair hero – Living Proof’s Restore Hair Mask. This together with Olaplex has really changed the condition of my hair, and I can go without trimming it for over 2 months and I won’t have a single split end. Another fabulous product recommended by Despina was the Schwarzkopf Bona Cure Repair Rescue Leave In Conditioner. This product is specifically designed for colour treated hair and it really brings moisture and flexibility back to damaged hair, without weighing it down or making it greasy. But I need to make a little disclaimer here, while deep conditioning your hair is good, if you leave these products on for too long they can actually fade your colour as they take colour molecules with them when you rinse them out; so my advice is don’t over do it!
4. Protect Your Hair
Using too much heat is damaging not matter whether your hair is coloured or not, but when your hair has been bleached it is much more prone to damage, so you should try and avoid heat tools as much as possible. However, if you do need to style your hair like me to get rid of the frizz then don’t ever do it without using a heat protector. I love Kerastase’s Keratine Thermique, which not only helps to get rid of frizz but also protects your hair from heat to avoid colour fading.
5. Use Sulphate Free or Blue Shampoos
Sulphate has been proved to corrode and damage hair follicles, and whilst its great for cleaning your hair and removing excess oil it also remove colour pigments, and causes toners to fade bringing out the brassy shades in your hair. There are now lots of sulphate free shampoos and low shampooing has become a real thing. L’oreal does a great Elvive Low Shampoo, but if you want to splurge a little more Shu Uemura’s Colour Lustre Sulfate Free shampoo is fabulous. These shampoos don’t really clean as deeply as shampoos with sulphate in them, so for someone like me who suffers from scalp dermatitis a clarifying shampoo at least once a week is a necessity, but don’t worry I have found a way around it! If like me you can’t avoid sulphates all together then blue shampoo is the answer.
Blue shampoos have pigment in them to counteract the warmth in your hair that comes with colour fading. My favourite is Joico’s Colour Balance Blue Shampoo, which is specially designed for brunettes with ash blonde highlights. You only need to leave it on for 5 minutes and over a few weeks you will really be able to tell the difference.
6. Avoid Very Hot Showers
Heat as we said earlier can really dry out your hair. The high temperature opens up hair cuticles releasing not only moisture but also colour pigment, so very hot showers will not only lead to dryer hair and more brittle hair, they also make your colour fade faster.
7. Wait To Wash Your Hair As Long As Possible
This bring me on to my final point, which is wait to wash your hair as long as possible. Shampooing, hot water and styling tools all damage your hair and cause the colour to fade, so in order to avoid all of this try and stick to washing your hair a maximum of twice a week. Overdoing it will strip your hair from all its natural oils and actually worsen tis condition. ‘But what if I have very oily hair?’ If that is what are thinking right now, then don’t panic – I do as well! I only wash my hair twice a week and although initially it took a bit if getting used to after a few months my hair automatically stopped producing as much oil, as I wasn’t continually depriving it of moisture so eventually my hair lasted cleaner longer. In the mean time if you are going through this process and you need a little refresher, then dry shampoo is your new best friend!
SHOP THIS POST
Living Proof Restore Mask
Schwartzkopf Bona Cure Repair Rescue
Kerastasse Kératine Thermique
L’Oreal Elvive Low Shampoo
Shu Uemura Colour Lustre Sulfate Free Shampoo
Joico Colour Balance Blue Shampoo