One Year Out
If you're considering a drastic blonde-to-brunette type change, the time to start that transition is now. The most important thing to consider in choosing a new hair color is your skin tone, followed closely by your eye color. After that, I think it's important to factor in the time of year and your lifestyle. A great risk-free way to experiment with a big change like this would involve either visiting a wig shop or checking out one of the many web sites that offer virtual experimentation by downloading a picture of yourself and checking out how you'll look with various cuts and colors.
Six Months Out
If you're thinking about getting highlights, this is the time to get them. Multi-tonal hair has a way of catching light in photos that solid colors don't always manage to do, which is why highlights can really make for great photos. Sprinkling a few highlights around the frame of your face and the top of your head may help lighten up your complexion and help make your hair look fuller, too. By creating an illusion of depth, highlights often trick the eye into seeing thicker, fuller hair. What's more: The ribbons of color also define the lines of your hairstyle or updo by creating contrasting tones that play off of one another.
Three Months Out
At this point, your focus should be on shiny, healthy hair; a smooth, flat cuticle reflects tons of light. When hair is damaged, essentially what happens is that holes take shape in the cuticle, resulting in a less lustrous head of hair. But, by doing a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment once a week, throughout the three months leading up to your wedding, you can help restore the damaged cuticle.
I also love essential oils to help with cuticle repair. Each oil has its own unique benefits, and you can customize it to fit your personal hair needs. You can even just add a few drops of your favorite oil to your deep conditioner to boost its benefits. My favorite is coconut oil, which penetrates two levels of the hair shaft and has restorative properties. Its benefits last for a couple of days; plus, the scent is reminiscent of a vacation.
One Month Out
Now's when you want to be careful about product build-up and residue, which will dull hair color and may make it look flat in your wedding photos. A simple and effective clarifying treatment you can do at home is this: Comb a cup of Sea Breeze hair astringent through damp hair, leave on for three to five minutes, then shampoo it out. This will not just pull out any impurities from your hair, it will also unclog hair follicles and remove dead skin cells. Keep in mind that when all of these dulling residues are removed, color molecules and moisture may be stripped out as well, and that's why this should be done prior to your final color touch-up. Always follow any clarifying treatment with a deep conditioning treatment to replace any possible lost moisture.
Seven To Ten Days Before
This is the best time to get your final color done. It's enough time to make any minor adjustments, but it isn't so far out that color will fade or roots will show.
Down To The Wire
Two days before the wedding have a gloss applied. Glosses fill the holes in damaged hair with moisturizing agents and light-reflecting color polymers, while at the same time coating each strand and sealing that shingle-like outer layer. The resulting smooth and flat hair cuticle will make your hair shiny and light-reflective. Shine is essential to picture- perfect bridal color, and the quickest way to boost shine is with a gold gloss. Gold glosses reflect the most light and can be used on all hair colors. But, if you're not a fan of gold tones in your hair, then opt for a clear gloss like the Oscar Blandi At Home Salon Glaze.
There are many effective at-home versions of the in-salon glossing process available on the market today, and while warm tones reflect the most light, there are glosses available in every shade and cool tones as well.
It might seem like a lot of planning to start thinking about hair color a year in advance, but a wedding can't be planned in a week — and neither can your photo-ready 'do. You might consider coming up with a game plan with your colorist once you've set the date. And, if you plan your appointments well in advance, it'll be a fun year of getting your hair looking exactly how you want, rather than a stressful one.
NEXT: Going Blonde? Here's What You Need To Know