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Hair is hair.

If it looks bad, it will grow out. It’s that simple. As long as it’s healthy, the rest is negotiable. I’m not emotionally attached to my hair. There are so many other issues of greater concern.

So when Whitney wants to try out new products or methods on my hair or use my hair as a training tutorial for budding stylists, I wholeheartedly agree.  I like to think I’m furthering some young woman’s career.

Always the educator.

There truly wasn’t a lot of thought that went into it. Whitney is my friend of 27 years. She knows my hair. In sixth grade, she experimented on my bangs. My mother was not pleased, but she admitted that Whit did a good job. It’s not a surprise that she owns a salon now. If she thinks my hair will be fine, then it will be.

Here is Whitney’s finished work:

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. Salon West 54 Hundred. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. Salon West 54 Hundred. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Whitney Vittor. Salon West 54 Hundred. © 2017 Vittor. IG: @whitsendz Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

There are a few things you may not realize while you’re deciding to journey over to the blonde side. Here are a few observations and experiences I noted during the past week.

Everyone will psychoanalyze your decision to go blonde. It’s not just hair dye. It’s a symbol of some deep-seated internal struggle.

My hair is the topic of some deep discussions about age, self esteem, and one’s place in life. I didn’t change my hair color for any of the previous reasons. It was a split decision based on Whitney’s recommendation. I didn’t labor over it. I didn’t pin pics of blonde celebrities on a secret hair ideas board. There was little thought or provocation.

Unlike other dramatic hair colors like black or eggplant, people have psychoanalyzed my desire to dye my hair blonde. Apparently, it must mean something.

Blondeness in American society is a social construct rooted in early 80s surfing culture. This is the armchair scholar in me talking. Maybe it’s Brigitte Bardot’s fault a few decades before. At some point, the blonde-hair-blue-eyed aesthetic became popular. In an effort to achieve this aesthetic, women (and men) started bleaching their hair to test out the theory if blondes have more fun.

While blonde is a very drastic change from my previous hair colors, it’s not the only time I have done something drastic to my hair in all fairness. I toe the line with what I can professionally get away with in regards to color. Always have. When I worked in radio, one of my bosses threatened to remove me from public appearances if I dyed my hair purple. It wasn’t the first time I had purple hair either.

Blonde isn’t any different from my perspective. White, ashy, and grey blonde hair is trending. I love the white-blonde-pale-face-and-minimal-makeup-with-dark-brows look. It’s very editorial. The idea of bronzed skin and blonde hair is a Californian ideal. One of colleagues told me that I have a distinct look now, which is important to someone working in fashion.

Yet people continue to ask a series of questions as if they have forgotten that I tend to do this to myself quite regularly (my hair has been three different colors in the past year).

Do you like it?

If I don’t, I will dye it something else. I always figure this question was a nice way of diverting the conversation to avoid saying that they don’t like it. However, everyone immediately talks about how they like it, so I’m not sure why my opinion matters.

What influenced you to go blonde?

Whitney. Well, and the sudden realization I could look like that editorial spread in Vogue.

Are you afraid of aging?

No.

Is there something in your life you feel you’re missing?

There are lots of things I’m missing in life. Spending my money on a large product arsenal and putting bleach on my scalp to exorcise demons was not one of them.

Why do you feel the need to always change? Are you feeling insecure?

No. It’s hair. I’m a fashionista. It doesn’t mean I’m vain. Fashion is art. Hair is part of that art form. If I couldn’t afford the upkeep, I wouldn’t do it. I’m a body positivity advocate for crying out loud. My teeth — that’s my insecurity. My hair — not so much.

People asked similar questions when I cut my hair short.

Why is everyone so obsessed with hair?

It’s a process. Patience is a virtue and a must.

You can’t wake up one morning and hope you will become blonde in one day, especially if your hair is super dark, and you want super light hair. It may take several salon visits to achieve the look that you want.

This is me a year ago with freshly-dyed black hair with blue accents:

Photo Credit: Steve Stanley. © 2016 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Steve Stanley. © 2016 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Six weeks ago with blonde and plum highlights:

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Immediately after bleaching:

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

My yellow hair immediately following the first stage of bleaching. Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

This is the final product:

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

I have white blonde areas from my previous highlights. The roots, which were brown and virgin, required more processing. Blonding is, at minimum, a two-step process, maybe more. There are many factors to consider — previous dying, condition of the hair, how fast it processes.

It may take one or two more visits to achieve the look I want if I choose to keep the color. Some areas are a harsher yellow blonde where the hair was darker. You can only process hair so much before damage sets in.

So, be patient, young padawan. You shall make it there. Trying to accomplish too much too quickly is dangerous.

So. Much. Product.

Whitney and I discussed maintenance at length. The cost includes more than the time in the chair. You can undo all of your stylist’s hard work and damage your hair in the process if you don’t have the right products.

While I avoid overly-pricey products, I don’t go cheap either. If you can’t afford the products, you can’t afford the hair color.

The first product you need is a blue or purple shampoo. There’s a reason there are shampoos specially formulated for blonde hair. It takes out the brassiness that can appear with dyed blonde hair. It also keeps the blonde vibrant. Make sure it’s safe for color-treated hair. Some brands are designed for natural blondes.

Just because you’re a bottle blonde doesn’t mean you have to look like one.

You need a really good conditioner. I’m currently using a scalp-friendly conditioner. You might need a moisturizing or a damage prevention conditioner. Follow your stylist’s recommendation. Some salons will provide free samples to allow you to try the product before purchasing.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

A hair mask is heavily recommended. There are weekly treatments. My scalp took a beating. I normally have a very oily scalp. My hair is not oily. At all. Whitney suggested coconut oil to sooth the scalp.

I found this packet at Sally’s for a few dollars. I use it when I wash my hair. It requires 15 extra minutes in the morning, but it’s worth it. My hair would be be frizzy and dry otherwise.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Heather Leigh Stanley. © 2017 Stanley. Frugal Fashionista Mag. All rights reserved.

Then there’s the heat protectant. Don’t apply heat to dry, bleached hair. The heat protector seals in the color, prevents frizz, and prevents heat damage. I use it when I’m blow drying my hair. I’m not allowed to use direct heat like a curling iron or straightener.

Not gonna lie. I miss my flat iron.

I’m also playing around with dry shampoos. I’m mixed on the results. I was a wash-my-hair-everyday kind of girl. It’s a necessity with oily, thin, fine hair that sits on your scalp all day with lots of product. Oh how life has changed. For now, my scalp hasn’t started generating oil. The dry shampoo soaks up what little oil is there the next morning and allows me to wash my hair every two days.

Remember, blonde is a commitment.

Your current makeup routine is irrelevant.

Makeup should compliment your natural skin tone and undertones, not your hair. That said, you may need to make a few adjustments.

I can wear little to no makeup when I have black or red hair. I’m already pale. Society accepts the Snow White look.

Red highlights my pink undertones. Little makeup required.

Blonde, on the other hand, can wash me out a bit. I can’t do the no makeup look. There are certain colors that pop in contrast with the blonde hair like blue-hued pinks or the purple in the pictures below.

Photo credit: Erin Begley. © 2017 Begley. Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Erin Begley. © 2017 Begley. Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Erin Begley. © 2017 Begley. Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Erin Begley. © 2017 Begley. Photos used by permission. All rights reserved.

One of my students commented on the bold lip colors. I always wear bold colors. I guess the blonde made the boldness more obvious.

I apply the bronzer and blush a little heavier these days. I accentuate the brows more as well. I love the bold brow with the blonde.

Tweaking the makeup routine is where the fun is.

Final thoughts

Here’s a few things to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Is your hair healthy enough to endure the stress?
  • Do you have a sensitive scalp?
  • Do you prefer low-maintenance hair?
  • Do you have an experienced stylist who knows your hair?

Bleach will strip your hair. I have a scalp of steel, yet a week later and my scalp is still irritated in areas. It’s not for the faint of heart or scalp. If you’re a wash-and-go type of person, you will not enjoy the change.

And for the love of all that’s good in the world, do not use boxed dye. You do not know what you are doing. Whitney consulted another stylist and had to mix a little chemistry to turn my hair into the right color of blonde. She knows my hair very well. She knew if my hair could handle the processing. She knows when the dye is taking. She knew what toners to use and the mixing proportions. This requires schooling, certifications, courses, and experience. Don’t make an appointment with a brand new person and don’t book with the cheapest, most convenient salon.

But if you do join the blonde club, prepare yourself for the questions and comments.

I hope you learned a few things from my experience.

Happy shopping!!

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This post is not sponsored. I paid for all products and services. All recommendations and opinions are my own. Don’t take my word for it. Always make adjustments according to your needs and consult an professional when in doubt.