On boing blonde
I think I'm done. After 5 lifts and 2 glosses over the course of 7 months, I believe I've reached my desired blondness.
Just don't hold me to that statement too closely.
Let's talk about blonde. I grew up with lustrous dark gold hair. It was what blonde dreams are made of- quite unreal. I could be classified as a brunette by the time I was 8, thanks to possessing enough eumelanin (I just learned that's the compound that controls black/brown pigment in your skin & hair).
I do love my natural hair color, a honey brown, and has a red sheen that could be seen under sunlight. It was quite complex, so when I chose to go blonde, the standards were high. At that point, I had recently started a relationship with Frederic Fekkai salon in Dallas. I already had two color processes, two cuts, and other services; all exceeding my dreams. I even took the plunge and got bangs for the first time ever at this salon...so, they passed the ultimate test!
It didn't require much convincing for me to start the lightening process. Both my husband and my sis-in-law suggested I try blonde- but I wasn't ready at the time as I was strongly committed to another look I wanted. I achieved said style at Fekkai and enjoyed it for a few months. Last September, I had a conversation with my colorist, Jessica, about how long it may take for me to lighten safely. I thought it would be ideal to have blonde for Spring and Summer- so after about 5 minutes of deliberation in the salon chair, I went for it. She applied highlights throughout for a soft balayage effect. Did you know that balayage is French for "to paint"? It's mesmerizing to watch! Balayage is where real artistry comes into play.
I was a bit nervous about how I would look while in transition. I was relieved when she finished with the first lift; my hair was still natural toward the base, with touchable, gradient highlights throughout until it concentrated at the bottom of my strands. So good. Each process worked it's way closer to the base, yet still with an incredible amount of dimension. I lifted once a month for the next three months. I decided to forego my December appointment, opting to get a trim and a protein treatment instead, as to give my hair a rest. I am so happy that it turned out non-streaky and really natural. I doesn't appear that I doused all of my hair in bleach at once. It has movement and complexity.
On growing it long
Fortunately, I seem to have a knack for doing all the difficult things simultaneously. So I decided, not only am I liking my blonde hair, I wanted to grow it long (read: I had no idea the level of difficulty I was committing to).
After the new year, I decided I would maintain the roots only, giving my hair a rest as to not fry it off. I finished with my fourth lift in March, after 4 months of no processing. Now to really focus on growing it..... because once I decided to grow it, I was all in. I was sad when I noticed my strands becoming brittle after a few months. So, I became vehemently focused on the health of my hair.
Here are a few things I've done to keep my locks healthy:
- Food: I already maintain a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and healthy fats. This type of diet has a plethora of benefits, including glowing hair. A few of my favorite foods are: salmon, walnuts, (homemade) almond milk, green olives, berries, cherries, dark chocolate, avocados, and healthy oils such as olive, coconut, flax, and ghee. I avoid processed & fried foods, dairy, sugar, and keep gluten to a minimum.
- Silk pillowcase: I always heard/read the benefits of silk pillowcases. I put off buying one until my fourth lift- my colorist, Ashley, pointed out how broken the bottom layer of my hair was. I always pull my hair out from underneath my head when I sleep. I always slept on cotton or linen, which wasn't gentle enough on my hair. I purchased this one....I have seen an improvement in the texture of my hair already. An added bonus- silk pillowcases guard against wrinkles! Great if you're a side sleeper like me.
- Microfiber Hair towel: After washing, I LOSELY wrap my hair into this towel. It helps dry my hair so I spend less time under the heat of the blow dryer. It also gives my hair texture and volume, and helps combat static.
- Protein treatments: I go into the salon every 8 weeks or so for a protein treatment. I really should be doing it more often, though. This treatment is different than a deep conditioner. It literally infuses protein into each strand, making it stronger. Fekkai salon uses Loreal; however, Olaplex is another popular treatment you'll find in many salons.
- Deep conditioner: I use Shea Moisture 10-in-1 Superfruit Complex hair masque. I cannot say enough about this masque. It leaves my hair softer than any product I've ever used. I also notice less breakage after using it. Also, the smell is literally heaven. After washing, I towel dry and work the conditioner in- I have a heavy hand here. I roll my hair into a clip and leave it in for 2 hours minimum. For the best result, I rinse with the coldest water I can stand. Added bonus: it's completely natural with no artificial fragrance or other bothersome ingredients.
- Ribbon hair ties: Sometimes, I need to pull my hair back in order to be productive, especially when exercising. My hair doesn't stay in braids, so the next best option for me is ribbon ties. They are much gentler than elastics and plastic clips.
- Gentle blow-drying: I'll admit, I blow-dry my hair often. In order to dry my hair in a way that requires little or no additional styling tools, I use my fingers to shape my hair while drying. I only use a paddle brush to finish and round brush to shape my bangs. It also helps that I prefer a "lived in" tousled look. I use this Revlon Laser Brilliance Infrared blow dryer. It's a budget buy, and it provides amazing salon results. I love it!
Overall, my hair has grown at least 3 inches in 8 months. I'm still trimming it to keep a healthy edge to it, of course. So let's see how far it gets until I'm ready to chop.....