Photo: Ben Ritter
Normcore hair color might be taking center stage for 2015 but that doesn’t mean going platinum is totally out of the question. Celebrities like Michelle Williams, Rita Ora, and Gwen Stefani still serve up some serious blonde hair envy. I have to admit that I’m one of those people that have been dreaming about making the jump from chocolate brown to white blonde.
If you’re thinking about doing a double process— that’s the pro term for when hair is bleached and then toned—there are a few things you need to know. I talked to Rachel Bodt, senior colorist at Culter Salon in New York City, about what it takes to go—and stay—blonde. If you’re a dark brunette like me, who has a Pinterest board full of dreamy blonde hair, read on.
Get a consultation. It’s important to consider your hair history when going in for a double process. “If you’ve had any kind of dark hair color, artificial color, or box color, it can take multiple visits to get the blonde color you want,” says Bodt. At the same time, your natural hair color may be light enough that you can get the platinum hue of your dreams in one shot. Most should expect to visit a salon 3-4 times before you get the perfect color.
Prepare to commit. “Platinum hair is beautiful and it’s definitely a statement but it’s a commitment. It’s not a wash and go thing,” says Bodt. This color process is one of the most damaging things you can do to your hair and requires a lot of upkeep, you want to make sure you’re lifestyle allows for the commitment.
Pick your tone. When most people imagine a double process, they see something super pale and super light but Bodt says that sometimes it’s better to keep it a bit darker so you can see more of the tone. “We are seeing a ton of the gray, charcoal, and silver tones,” says Bodt, who notes that these tones work well with cool skin tones. Pastel and rose tones remain popular because they can be adjusted to work on both warm and cool skin tones. “A lot of people have a skin tone that can go in both directions, either warmer or cool,” says Bodt. During you consultation, talk to your colorist about what will work best for your skin tone.
Know your roots. “I always like a little bit of root when I’m doing a double process, I think it looks really cool,” says Bodt. When it comes to roots, the key is to do your touch-ups every 4-6 weeks so that you are just touching up the regrowth and not putting your hair through as much stress. “It gets tricky when you get past six weeks,” says Bodt. She points out that waiting this long (or longer) can result in banding or hot roots. “The hair that comes right out of our root is non-keratinized, it’s clean, and it hasn’t hardened yet so it will tend to lift lighter,” she says. “As hair grows out, it gets keratinized and it’s will not lift as easily.” With a double process the cleaner the hair, the better.
Try Olaplex. If you have dark hair, or are worried about breakage, look for a salon that uses Olaplex, a product backed by celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham. Bodt describes Olaplex as an antibiotic for your hair that works as a bond multiplier. “When you’re bleaching hair out, all the bonds get broken but with this product added to your hair color, these bonds start to fuse back together so you’re not just destroying the hair,” says Bodt. “The results have been awesome because it doesn’t really stress the hair as much but you still get really light results.”
Be ready to wash your hair less. “It can be hard because people who are used to washing their hair everyday have trouble adjusting to less washing when they do a double process,” says Bodt. Shampoo is great because, obviously, it takes all of the dirt out of your hair, but it also removes any existing moisture. With a double process, you want moisture to be coming back in. Bodt recommends trying cut back to washing every other day if you can. “If you have to wash it, try to rinse and just condition the hair,” she says.
Use the right products. Bodt recommends using a cleansing conditioner, which will clean the hair without stripping it of moisture. The brands Wen and Purely Perfect make great conditioning products for colored hair. When shampooing, always use a sulfate free product.