Why I'd NEVER Go Platinum

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
I have a confession to make: I want platinum hair as bright and white as Daenerys Targaryen's so badly it practically hurts. And I'm not alone in that desire. One-tone blond is stop-'em-in-their-tracks striking, partly for the fact that it's pretty rare, partly because humans are drawn to light.
A true bleach-and-tone, however, is not sustainable for the vast majority of us. We don't have the time, not to mention the budget, to maintain hair that matches that of the Mother of Dragons. Unless you can get to the salon every four weeks, master DIY toning, never go in the pool, swear off heat-styling, and don't mind totally changing your natural texture and taking the risk of losing your length, you might have to sit out platinum. (If any of these are surprising to you, you might want to get familiar with the platinum process before following the pack.)
There are, however, other options. More forgiving options. Options for the rest of us. Hollywood is the land of smoke and mirrors — and the top colorists know exactly how to create pale, impactful blond color without subjecting their clients' hair to the aforementioned damage. For all the insider tricks, we went to the L.A. colorist for blond locks: Kari Hill.
Hill is a go-to at one of L.A.'s coolest hair haunts, Mèche Salon; a L'Oréal Professionnel ambassador; and her client list includes Taylor Schilling, Michelle Williams, Anna Faris, Karlie Kloss, and Mindy Kaling. Needless to say, she has tricks up her sleeve even bleach devotees haven't heard about (seriously). Consider this your free consultation with one of the best.
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In Defense Of Foil Highlights

At some point, foil highlights — or "mall-girl highlights," as they're not-so-affectionately referred to in some circles — got a bad rap. But in my extensive experience, they're the key to getting a color that will satisfy your blond lust in the same way platinum would — only with a lot less damage and required upkeep. Foil no longer means streaks — and here's why.

"Putting bleach on your scalp is a bit like selling your soul," Hill says. "You really have to commit — you need to get your roots done every four weeks." The alternative? She takes clients like Williams and Schilling pale-blond with a series of dense, fine, foiled highlights, but never goes over the hair more than once. "No repeat offending," she says, is the secret to less breakage in foil. Recently, Schilling had to go from deep, dark brown to light, icy blond for Orange Is the New Black and Hill executed it in only two sittings — without bleaching all her hair. She foiled Schilling's hair, sent her home to sleep in conditioner all week, then did one more session. "A ton of baby-fine highlights, versus bleach on the scalp, means that you can keep your length," Hill notes, since it's far less damaging — but you've got to keep it modern with a few tricks...
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Trick 1: Bleaching The Hairline

"My clients call it 'Kari's crack,'" Hill jokes about the trick she uses to both keep foil highlights modern and make hair look even lighter. Basically, she bleaches the hairline (see the shot of Schilling), which makes it look more natural and brightens the face. "The reason why it’s become such a popular thing is because it takes the edge off your hairline; it makes you look like you were in the sun, not that you got your hair done," she explains. There's one caveat, though: "If you’ve never had it done before, definitely make sure your colorist is educated in how to do it — you don’t necessarily want to be their guinea pig and sit there while they slap some bleach on the hairline."

This is done at the shampoo bowl — after highlights are rinsed — with lavender-spiked bleach on any hair around the face that can't fit into the foils.
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Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage.
Trick 2: The Smudge-&-Shade

Shadowing the root is the next secret to making foil highlights look modern. "I shadow everyone who walks in the door," Hill says. "It takes out the deliberate look of the highlight at the root; think of it almost like an eyeliner with a smudger at the end. It takes away the line of demarcation we all had when we got highlights when we were younger."

And don't worry if you hate visible roots: It can be subtle. "We can choose anywhere from the lightest, subtle shadow all the way to a deeper, darker hue, like you have a natural root," she explains, noting that you can shadow from a half-inch (for a light shadow like Schilling's) to two inches (which will look closer to subtle ombré).

Here's where the trick gets really good: "It actually buys you time between appointments," Hill says. "When we first started doing it, we called it 'recession hair.'" Why? The toner used to root the look is semi-permanent, so it fades within two months and you're left with naturally blended roots in its place. Results that don't need to be touched up in four weeks like platinum? Count us in.
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Trick 3: The "De-Green"
Hill recommends several things to keep hair bright and fresh between appointments: a shower filter (she likes Clearly Filtered, but reminds that you must make sure the filter is changed regularly), a tinted lavender shampoo (she recommends L'Oréal's Brass Banisher line), and a good mask (she likes Kérastase and warns to "never, ever use protein," which can make hair more brittle).

There's one more thing. The real solution to extending your time between appointments is an in-salon de-mineral treatment, done between your usual appointments. Ask for Hill's favorites by name: Malibu C or Redken Pre Art. On her clients, Hill tones the hair (a de-mineral treatment will remove the toner, too), bleaches the re-growth at the hairline, and sends them home with wet hair wrapped in a bun — with a hit of Olaplex. "You don’t have to do your highlights every time you turn around," she says. "Clients come in every day for this."

According to Hill, these are the tricks that allow clients to reach maximum lightness with less damage and commitment. Depending on how heavy the foiled highlights are, the possibilities are endless — and there's no need for a bleach-and-tone. Follow her advice, and your Daenerys fantasy will come true.
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