The platinum, icy white and mermaid hair trends all over Instagram has us all wanting to look like Daenerys Targaryen or one of Jem's Holograms...(yup that was an 80’s kid reference...) Truth is, despite the popularity, going platinum is much more complicated than you might think.
It could be my non-existent attention span or my Sagittarian desire for new experiences, but about every 3 months or so I need a transformation. Luckily, working in the hair industry means that I have a bit more freedom than when I worked in banking back in the early 2000's. The platinum bug bit me a couple of weeks ago when I saw a gorgeous icy pixie on Instagram and just NEEDED to have that color. The beauty of a new hairstyle, cut or color is that typically in one afternoon, you can walk out of the salon a whole new person… that is unless, you're going platinum.
If you want to go platinum, you should first understand that the darker your hair, the more time and the more bleach it will take. If you’re hair is dark brown, most hairdressers will tell you that it’s going to take multiple sessions to achieve a platinum shade. Unless you’ve booked an entire day with your colorist and are prepared to pay her for that whole day, you probably shouldn't get your heart set on walking out a Marilyn on your first appointment. To put it in perspective, I have a pixie cut and I’m naturally a dark blonde with warm undertones – generally referred to as a level 7 in the hair world. This means that on a scale of 1-10, 1 being black and 10 being platinum, I’m only 3 levels away from my goal. It should be easy, right? Well, it took over 3.5 hours and multiple applications of bleach to get the perfect platinum shade.
As the co-founder of BLNDN, a hair care line specifically designed to protect and repair even the heaviest chemical damage, I felt that this was perfect opportunity to walk you through my experience and the things that you should consider if you want to go platinum.
Cutting hair is a skill and coloring hair is a skill. Just because a hairdresser is amazing at cutting, doesn’t mean they’ll be experts in coloring hair. Think about it, a sculptor isn’t always a good painter, and a painter may not know how to sculpt. With the increase in the use of social media helping stylists build their brands and show off their work, Instagram is a great place to start when you want to find the right colorist. I met Kristina at a BLNDN event after I had followed her on Instagram for a while. She’s well known for gorgeous mermaid hair and has a portfolio of insanely vivid colors. To get bright colors to stand out, you MUST lift the hair to a platinum shade first and paint over the lightened hair with strong pigments like Pulp Riot. Because of Kristina's talent, I knew that she’d be very experienced at safely lightening hair.
Make a 5-10 min appointment with your hairdresser a week or so before your color service. This will allow your colorist to check out the quality of your hair and the current level of pigment. If you’ve done a lot of processing in the past, your hair will be much more vulnerable to bleach than hair that hasn’t been chemically processed. It was one of those rare times in my life where my hair was minimally processed, just a few balayaged pieces. I also have short hair, so much of the processed ends had been cut off over the last few months. The longer your hair and the more processing you’ve done, the more complicated the process is.
It's going to look brassy! The general rules is, the closer to a level 1 that you are, the more bleach you'll need and the longer it will take to get you to a level 10. Sometimes lighter hair will surprise hairdressers though. For example, my hair needs at least a double application of bleach, sometimes a triple application to lift it to a platinum shade. I told Kristina this beforehand, and I also told her that I have a super sensitive scalp. She used 2 different bleaches. Schwarzkopf BlondMe to lift the strands, and Joico Creme Lightener for the second application directly on the roots and scalp.
After you lift the hair and essentially "dissolve" the natural pigment of your hair, your hairdresser with need to deposit color back on the hair to neutralize the yellow brassy tones and give it a cool icy tone. Toner is demi-permanent hair color, and typically is applied in the shampoo bowl. It lasts for about 5-10 washes, but can last longer if you wash sparingly, and use a color safe toning shampoo like Brighten You and or toning rinse like Tone You.
After a heavy chemical process, the hair continues to oxidize even days after you leave the salon, so make sure to care for your hair with the right products. Bleach raises up the outer protective layer of the hair (think about the hair's outer layer like shingles on a roof) which keeps your hair’s natural moisture in, you will need to use shampoos and conditioners that do two things: 1) infuse moisture and proteins back into the center of the hair strand and 2) re-seal and strengthen the outer layer of the hair strand. Since my appointment, I’ve been diligent about using my BLNDN Signature Regimen - Brighten You purple shampoo to gently clean my hair and keep my tone icy bright, Nourish You conditioner to stop breakage and infuse my hair with proteins and moisture, and Save You balancing cream to seal the moisture in and protect against further damage from blow-drying, styling and UV rays.
Bottom line, choose an experienced hairdresser and have realistic expectations. Also, don’t forget that your hairdresser is a professional and her time is worth a lot, whether you were her only client that day, or she had 10 other appointments. Just because the menu says “$200 for color” doesn’t mean that a 6 hour multi-process appointment should cost $200. Going platinum isn’t easy, nor is it cheap, but man it is worth it when the results turn out like this.
XO, Erika (Comments? Questions? email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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