When I had black hair and bangs (my former signature look)‚I tended to dress as one of my favorite blonde icons every Halloween, whether it was Drew Barrymore in Scream, Jayne Mansfield (as a Satanist), or Angelyne the Billboard Queen. But once I began switching up my look and dyeing my hair different colors, being blonde was something I could finally attain without a wig. All I’d need was a great hairstylist, amazing products, and commitment. After all, being blonde isn’t easy to maintain when you’ve got naturally dark hair. While I’ve been blonde in the past, my current era (initially inspired by an homage to Pamela Anderson) is the longest I’ve gone without reverting back to pink, aka my “natural” hair color.
I'm happy to say that my hair is also pretty healthy, considering the journey that it takes for a natural brunette like me to get there. We’ve all seen how celebs can seemingly go from black to blonde in the blink of an eye (if they aren’t wearing a wig) but the reality is that it’s a long process, which could be too much to handle if you’re not patient.
Celebrity hairstylist and founder of #Mydentity Guy Tang says that the biggest mistake that people make when wanting to go blonde is thinking that they can go from dark brown hair to platinum in a single service. “Going blonde takes time,” he says. “If you rush it you will damage your hair and have a brassy blonde. Let your stylist do it the right way and you will end up with a beautiful blonde color.”
Once you reach your dream blonde shade, there are a few maintenance tips to keep in mind. Touch-ups, for one, are key. Because my hair grows fast, my hairstylist (shoutout Gina Atkinson at Moef Salon!) doesn’t want me going past eight weeks for a touch-up. “If you have highlights or global blonding up to your roots, then a touch-up every four to six weeks is a good standard to go by. This ensures your roots don’t grow out too much,” explains Tang. He says that for this kind of blonde, if roots are longer than 1.5 inches or so, it gets harder to get an even clean blonde lift in a single service, but if you have a low-maintenance blonde color, you can go as long as four months before getting a touch-up.
You also want to find a colorist you trust, and stick to them. “One of the biggest mistakes you can make is switching colorists all the time,” explains Clayton Hawkins, a celebrity stylist whose clients include Olivia Rodrigo, Kiernan Shipka, and Maddie Ziegler. Unless you have had a bad experience with your hairdresser, it’s important to keep going back to them for touch-ups, especially for light blondes. Someone using a different product or developer on your already fragile hair is a recipe for breakage!” Scary!
If you’re an unnatural blonde like me or thinking about making the plunge, it might help to learn which products can help you with at-home maintenance between salon visits. Ahead, you’ll find some of the different products and tools I swear by, along with tips and recommendations from the hair experts I trust. I do believe everyone who wants to go blonde should do it at least once in their life. It’s a commitment—but it’s worth it!
The products and tools I swear by for maintaining blonde hair:
One of the greatest issues us faux blondes face is when our color turns too yellow or brassy. (This was an issue when I went platinum blonde a few years ago—I felt like my hair already started turning yellow an hour after I left the salon!) According to Hawkins, environmental factors play a huge role in this. “Metals in your shower water or even the sun can cause yellowing,” he says. “Plus, chances are your stylist put a toner on your hair. Any toner will eventually fade with time. That’s why investing in a good shampoo and conditioner specifically for color-treated blonde hair is so important. I'm obsessed with Healthy Sexy Hair Bright Blonde Shampoo and Conditioners because it counteracts brass and deeply hydrates the hair."
Nine Zero One hairstylist Sierra Kener recommends Biotera’s new Ultra Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner for the fair-haired. “The kind-to-scalp formulas nourish and prolong the vibrancy of blondes and make hair feel beautiful and look radiant,” she says.
I don’t use purple shampoos every single time I wash my hair. Many hairstylists, including Kener, warn against going overboard with these types of products because they can dry out the hair and even make them look duller. But when I do, I’ll reach for Blonde Angel Wash. It’s one of my favorite purple shampoos as it instantly rejuvenates my blonde after just one wash.
A good quality shampoo and conditioner is extremely important when you have blonde hair, I definitely have noticed that whenever I used a lesser quality shampoo and conditioner, my hair looked dull and felt nasty. I love using the Balmain’s Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner when I don’t use a purple shampoo.
There’s been a lot of talk about scalp health because it’s important and can have a huge impact on your overall hair health. Because I wash my hair every two to three days and love me some dry shampoo, my scalp experiences buildup, so a proper scalp scrub is necessary. I am obsessed with this one by Philip B. It smells heavenly and makes my scalp feel super clean and nourished.
When I first went blonde a few years ago, I rarely used heat protectant (don’t kill me, Guy Tang), but now, I won’t dare blow dry or curl my hair without it! “Low heat is a must so you don’t burn your blonde,” says Tang, adding that a good heat protectant is also essential. He suggests using both #mydentity #MyDefender spray and #mydentity #MyHero Collagen Shield Spray for a “double dose of heat protection.”
(Editor's note: You can get this product through your hairstylist.)
“A lot of factors can turn your hair yellow over time,” explains celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko, whose clients include Gigi Hadid, Vanessa Hudgens, and Emma Chamberlain. “It could be that you are not properly taking care of it and not using the right shampoo and conditioner—for me as a blonde, the largest factor is the water where you are. A water filter is so important.” She says that when she first started using the T3 Source shower filter is when her “blonde stayed blonde the longest.” (The showerhead itself also has seven settings!)
Because L.A. water is not the greatest, using a shower filter is a non-negotiable, blonde or not. I’ve recently tried the Jolie shower filter and my hair feels so nice. It uses a filter made with KDF-55 (the “Ferrari of water filtration media”), a combination of copper and zinc shavings, as well as Calcium Sulfite balls to remove chlorine and other heavy metals. (I got the red color which looks great in my turquoise-and-pink bathroom.)
T3’s hair tools are my absolute favorite, especially the smart series of curling irons and flat irons, (T3 Curl ID and T3 Smooth ID) because it can be programmed exactly to your hair’s personal needs. “You really want to make sure you are using a low heat setting, which applies to every blonde; you do not need a high heat when you are blonde,” says Polko. “The T3 Curl ID and T3 Smooth ID help you find the right heat setting for you, factoring in color processing!” Shop them above and below!
I own about 10 silk pillowcases at this point. They’re a must for anyone who wants optimal protection for their hair. “A silk pillowcase really helps your hair maintain shine on day two so you don’t have to go back over it with heat, or put a lot of oil in, etc,” explains Polko. “Moving around on a cotton pillowcase can lead to friction and breakage over time.” I love how many cute colors and designs Slip offers in their pillowcase line.
I’m someone who ties their hair up a lot, especially at home. Unfortunately, you can do some serious damage if you’re not careful (speaking from experience). To prevent any more harm, I now always use a silk scrunchie, like these fun ones from Slip!