A few years ago, I got the worst highlights of my life. It was a “deal” that I got sucked into, ombre was at peak trend levels, and this junior stylist talked me into “ombre blonde highlights” which was basically orange streaks that started halfway down the length of my hair. It was the worst hair experience of my life, despite having been experimenting with various bangs for over a decade! I hated those highlights so much that one night, post happy hour drinks with my coworkers, I popped into Duane Reade, bought a box of hair dye, and drunk dyed my hair “cool espresso brown” which I thought was my natural color but was actually much darker. I actually kind of loved it.
It was a bit of an adventure, but on the bright side, I wasn’t afraid to color my hair anymore after that because how much worse could it get? So after a few repeated box dye browns (I’d touch it up every time those god damn terrible highlights seemed to be breaking through), I decided to start seeing a real colorist and making a big change.
Nine times out of ten, my hair inspiration comes from Kim Kardashian. I don’t even really know why, but she’s so glam and takes such big risks. The first time I decided to go lighter, I went in with this in mind:
Remember, ombre was still kind of a thing in 2014! I went to Arrojo NYC for a few iterations of balayage and some traditional foils and ended up blonde for sure, but it didn’t really feel quite right, so another change and boom, I was a redhead.
My hair takes to red easily. I guess my hair undertones are bronze-y, if that’s a thing, so I didn’t have much trouble sticking that shade for a few years. I kind of oscillated between darker and lighter reds and browns. When I moved to Boston, I started seeing a new colorist on Newbury street and she did a great job maintaining my color, but I literally felt like my hair looked the same going into the salon as coming out. It didn’t feel like I was really getting my moneys worth (and if you’ve been to a salon on Newbury, you know how much money that can be!)
This icy white Targaryen blonde is so bold and so clean. It feels fresh and makes her skin glow and I’m obsessed. I need it.
Anyone who has gone significantly lighter with their hair will tell you that you can’t get there all at once, so it’s going to take a couple of sessions to get to the shade you want. The plan my colorist, Miranda, and I decided on would be that I’d do a heavy highlight as light as possible to start, another heavy highlight 6 weeks later, and then should be close enough that we could melt in a root and transition to maintenance. Here are before and after photos from Miranda’s instagram!
Before: A warm, red toned balayage over my natural chocolate brown
After: ash blonde heavy highlight realness
It’s already a great deal lighter and cooler. I feel incredibly badass and edgy and so happy for a change. I always notice that a big hair change can make my clothes and makeup all feel new as well, and suddenly I’m reaching for things that felt unexciting before. For example, I can’t wait to rock a smokey eye with this new hair, despite not having been excited about eyeshadow for months. And a red lip was bold before, but now I feel like it will really pop.
I’m really looking forward to our next blonde-ing session in December, so stay tuned. It’s looking like it’ll be a white-blonde Christmas!