I didn’t know this when I first went blonde, but it’s a lot of maintenance. Bleach dries out your hair until it starts breaking and the brassiness is sometimes impossible to avoid. Being the perfect ash blonde takes a lot of commitment. Luckily, my somewhat OCD obsession with having delightfully cool toned locks has resulted in lots of product experimentation to try and combat these issues.
Since I started getting a “bleach and tone” (as the salon industry people call it), I’ve learned lots about my hair. It turns out that to get super blonde, you aren’t actually “dyeing” your hair, you’re simply bleaching it to remove all colour. The surprise here is that bleached hair isn’t white, it’s actually a terrible shade of yellow/orange. No one wants hair like that (unless it’s the 90s), so the next step is to cancel out the warm tones by adding blue or purple ones (think opposite sides of the colour wheel). This is called a toner and it’s what gives you the “bleach blonde” look we all know and love.
I’ve broken down the problems I’ve experience while bleaching my hair into three main categories. First, the process opens up the bonds in the hair making it thinner, coarser and prone to breakage. Second, it’s really hard to keep the brass tones from showing in your hair for longer than two weeks after leaving the salon. Third, with the porous texture of bleached hair, product build up happens quickly and extensively, so hair becomes dull and heavy.
The good news is, I’ve come up with three shampoo & conditioner systems that combat each of these problems individually, so being blonde just got a whole lot easier.
- Restore : Schwarzkopf BLONDME Keratin Restore Bonding Shampoo & ConditionerI am obsessed with this range. Using it almost feels like my hair is back to it’s pre-bleach texture. Smoother and stronger, I firmly believe that this product does what it advertises with regards to the re-bonding system. It’s necessary for keeping your blonde hair strong, so that it can keep growing long (I’m a poet)! Note: the re-bonding is a scientifically backed process that is used in haircare and salon products. I wrote about it in a blog post here.
- Tone : Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo & ConditionerYet another dream product. I have no idea how many purple shampoos and conditioners I’ve tried, but the Amika system is my favourite. It’s a purple that actually works and I promise you will see a difference in the tone of your hair. Having said that, it’s not too strong that it dyes your hair purple (I’ve had that happen too). To top it off, it’s wonderfully hydrating, smells delicious and makes my head pretty darn happy.
- Clarify : REDKEN Clean Maniac Micellar Shampoo & ConditionerI fell in love with this system as soon as I tried it. As mentioned, build-up is an issue on bleached hair, so finding a clarifying shampoo to remove all the product stuck on your hair is important, but it also needs to be gentle enough leave the colour deposits from your toner behind. It’s all about balance and this product has mastered it. Use it once and you’ll hair will be brighter and bouncier than ever, but still ashy too. Winning.
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Outfit photography by Kevin Moody.