1. FINDING THE RIGHT HAIRSTYLIST
I’ve been dying my hair for about 6 years now! Yes, I admit at first I used to have those horrendous highlights from my roots and all over my head (#AsianBlonde) but now I just stick to balayage since the maintenance is way easier than going to the salon every 2-3 months.
I’m Asian so finding the right hair colorist was a mission as our hair has red and orange undertones which, when bleached, will result in brassiness. Finding the right salon doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be the most expensive in town, but definitely go on Instagram or Yelp and do your research. I’ve even stopped girls on the street when I see a color I like and ask them which salon they go to! Personally I trust Asian hair dressers for my hair type since, in my experience, they best understand how to safely and effectively lift my hair color. What does “lifting” the color mean? Pretty simple…bleach. It’s important for every woman out there who has never dyed their hair to understand the following: In order to color your hair lighter, you must first bleach it (aka “lifting” the color). There is no way around this. You simply cannot effectively change your hair color to a lighter shade without first bleaching all the color out of it, and upon that blank canvass, depositing your desired new color.
When booking your appointment, ask which hairdresser has experience with your specific hair type, ask about their experience and a ballpark of how much it will all cost.
If you choose to go with all over highlights - this will cost you more than balayage since you are using more product (bleach). Hairstylists will recommend that you get your hair highlighted first, THEN get a haircut to cut off the dead ends - but you could always get a haircut first and save some money. I’ve gone to a colorist who was amazing but one session would cost me upwards of $400. Now I would say $150-200 is reasonable since I go every 6 months.
I love the results just after getting my hair dyed but the time it takes is oh so painful. For a balayage, expect to be in the chair for 3-4 hours. As a first step, individual clusters of hair will be carefully sealed in beds of tinfoil, following which you’ll sit and wait as your virgin hair lifts from black to a pale yellow. Finally, after the lifting is complete, you’ll be taken to the sink, shampooed, toned and then shampooed again. (If you’re blonde the lifting process will be much quicker - lucky you!) It’s around a half day ordeal, so be prepared for that.
4. ALWAYS ASK FOR THE HAIR COLOR BOOK
I’ve changed cities twice in the past four years, and every move has forced me to hunt for a new hair colorist and stylist. When speaking to a new colorist- even if you’ve showed them a picture on Instagram or described the color you’re looking for, always be sure to ask for their hair color chart. That way you can see which products they use, and have a collaborative discussion with your colorist about the final color. After “lifting” your hair color through bleaching, the toner will deposit color back onto your hair, ultimately neutralising unwanted undertones (reds, oranges, yellow etc.) You can always ask to mix toners as well. If you’re aiming to go from virgin black hair to all over ashy blonde or brown, this may take a few sessions, so be patient.
5. BE PREPARED TO SPEND MONEY ON YOUR NEW HAIR CARE ROUTINE
After getting your hair highlighted it is going to be dry - it will never be the texture of virgin hair. BUT if you give it some TLC and use certain products, it can be kept in good condition. I aim to keep my hair on the ashier side so I use a purple shampoo to control the brassiness (the darker pigment the better) and a good hydrating hair mask at least once a week.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
- JOICO Color Endure Violet Shampoo (easy to find in your local Shoppers or drug store); and
- Precious Oil Softening Condition by Pureology (Smells amazing and is vegan, sulfate and paraben free).
6. POST COLORING MAINTENANCE
After your trip to the salon, try not to wash your hair for at least two days to really let the toner set in. I find that my hair color will be the shade I like for about two weeks and then it’ll gradually fade lighter just with hair washing and natural wear and tear.
Lastly for a boost, massage the ends of your hair with some argan or coconut oil and brush through with a boar bristle brush to keep your hair healthy and happy!
By Phoebe Kut