I've Always Loved My Virgin, Almost-Black Hair—This Is Why I Decided to Dye It

Welcome to Month of Me, where every day in January we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article featuring a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including what it’s like to quit alcohol for 80 days, try Beyoncé's very strict diet, or completely overhaul your closet.

Name: Paulina Galoostian, Senior Influencer Marketing ManagerWho What Wear

What did you try? Dyeing my virgin, almost-black hair

Why did you try it? I wanted to elevate my everyday look. I felt changing my hair would be an exciting way to change things up, so I went to hairstylist Cheryl Roberts at Nine Zero One salon in West Hollywood. Cheryl is well known for helping brunettes transition from brown to blonde, but since I didn't want anything super drastic, we went for a lived-in chocolate-hued balayage look to add subtle dimension to my dark brown (almost black) hair. 

To be honest, I've always taken pride in my virgin hair. I've always loved getting compliments on the color and texture, but I noticed it lacked dimension—especially in photos. Naturally, since I am in digital marketing and social media, I constantly noticed my dark hair made me look a little paler and more washed out than I would have liked. I looked to my favorite influencers, Negin Mirsalehi and Gabrielle Caunesil, and noticed they both had highlights, which inspired my transformation.

How did you prepare? First, it was about finding the right stylist. I was able to connect with one of the best salons in Los Angeles, Nine Zero One, and they paired me with Cheryl. Cheryl knew it was the first time I'd ever dyed my hair, and she was kind enough to email me before the appointment. I knew she was the right stylist for me because she sent me the most amazing email saying: "I know you are nervous, but I promise we are going for a natural look for you. I was thinking a light brown balayage but just sunkissed pieces. I don’t want to do anything that you have to maintain if you don’t want to or do anything that would compromise the integrity of your hair. I will look for some pictures but would love if you could find a few too so we can be on the same page and ease your worries!!! I look forward to meeting you, and I am excited to do your hair!!!"

That was it—I knew I had found a stylist who understood the emotionally nerve-wracking journey of dyeing your hair! From there, Cheryl and I sent each other photos on Instagram with the inspiration for what I was looking for.

What happened during the whole process? I took my sister with me because I was nervous. When we got to the salon, I got to meet Cheryl and her assistant, and we quickly got started. She walked me through the entire process to make sure I felt comfortable. Our goal was to go for a sunkissed look, which meant she didn't want it to look like there was a lot of lift. I kept emphasizing that I wanted the hair color to look natural.

She explained to me that she doesn't like to hand paint color when the hair is dark. She also made sure that the quality of my hair would not change because of the dye. To keep it healthy, she included a B3 additive and started with a lower developer to give me a more subtle look. She explained her method as a "tap and tone," where she would add the toner then tap in the color to my roots so it looks natural. She also wanted to make sure the hair color complemented my eye color. Though I have very dark features, my eyes have a slight honey tone. She said she wanted the new highlights to complement my eyes to make them more bright and youthful.

After the dye was added, Cheryl also did the salon's Cashmere Fusion Restorative Treatment, which was my favorite part of the experience. Cashmere Fusion is a professional, in-salon treatment that instantly strengthens and reconstructs extremely damaged hair from the inside out. This restorative treatment works to repair previous damage and restore elasticity and strength, leaving it like cashmere to the touch, and it's infused with amino acids, bio enzymes, jojoba oil, bamboo cane extract, aloe vera, and the salon's C3 custom care complex. (I left the salon with my hair feeling and looking silkier and healthier than when I walked in!)

Finally, it was time to blow dry my hair, and I absolutely loved the results. Cheryl touched up some of my layers so that the hair would shape my face nicely. Once she was done, I instantly saw a change in my skin tone and saw how she was able to successfully match the highlights to my eye color.

Any challenges? The only challenge was having the confidence to make this change! Additionally, I did not know it would take five hours, so I felt bad bringing my sister and having her wait for so long. 

Any surprises? To me, it was a big change, but a lot of people have not noticed I dyed my hair. I recently went on a trip to Cabo and was surprised to see my hair get even lighter. Now I am obsessed, and I can't wait to go back to Cheryl and ask her to take me to a lighter tone.

How did you feel afterward? What kinds of changes did you notice? I LOVE my hair in photos now. I feel so much more confident. In-person, sometimes I'm scared my hair looks a little red, but it depends on the lighting, and I've been curling my hair more often to help bring depth to the color. I am also beyond impressed with the texture and shine of my hair after the Cashmere Fusion Restorative Treatment.

What did you like about it? I tried something new outside my comfort zone and LOVED the results. This has inspired me to continue trying new things.

Would you try it again? Definitely.

Any advice for anyone who's thinking about trying it? Do your research, and think about what color you want. In hindsight, I actually wish I had gone a little lighter, but I was too scared I wouldn't like it. Also, do your research on your stylist! You want to make sure they respect your ultimate goal and that they care about what you care about. It was so important to me that Cheryl was on the same page as me as far as making sure that my hair looked natural and that it stayed healthy and trued to the texture of my virgin hair.

This kind of transformation can be hard on the hair, and if you don't have the right products, your strands can end up damaged. Below are the products Cheryl recommended for me to use regularly to maintain my results: