What No One Tells You About Going Platinum

This story was originally published on Jun. 6, 2016.

Last month, I made the decision to go blond as a way to untether my identity from my hair. I also did it because I was sick of my single status dictating the way I looked.

Once I booked the appointment, though, the panic set in. Did I make the right decision? Would my hair fall out? What if I turned into a hideously ugly beast? These fears were further heightened when my original colorist wasn't available for the double-process. At the last minute, I was ushered into the warm and welcoming hands of the team over at Hairstory Studio in New York City — specifically colorist and mega-babe Roxie Darling.

Roxie put me at ease. "It will change your life because you will be received so much differently," she says. "People's eyes are naturally drawn to light, and naturally drawn away from darkness." Basically, I was about to become Daenerys Targaryen. Bring it on.

So, on the morning of May 18, I took one last selfie as a brunette, grabbed a coffee, and headed over to Hairstory for my transformation. Ahead, see what the experience of going blond was like. And if you have any questions, please leave them below! I'll be answering them in the comments and in an upcoming story.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Before
Here it is: my final image as a brunette. (If I look extra tired, it's because it was early AF and I was only one coffee in.) I arrived at Hairstory at 9 a.m. for a long day, and Roxie gave me a pep talk on the change I was about to undergo. "Going blond is a commitment to change," she says. "It's important to know going into it that dramatically changing your color is life-changing. As a platinum blonde, you become a beacon. People's eyes are drawn to light, so you can expect people to be more attracted to you." I was excited to update the photos on my Bumble profile after hearing that.

Heeding Roxie's advice, I hadn't washed my hair for a few days to allow the oils to build up on my scalp, which would help keep the bleach from burning. She also suggested I start using Hairstory's New Wash on a regular basis. It's formulated with essential oils, so it would hydrate my scalp and hair similarly to my natural oils.
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Start Your Engines
After our chat, Roxie (pictured here) and her assistant got to work sectioning my hair. To ensure none of my hair over-processed — painting on the bleach takes a while — they split it into two zones, one in the front and one in the back. "Application takes about an hour and a half, depending on if one or two people are working on you," Roxie says.
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Painting On The Bleach
The first section was done processing just as Roxie painted the last section. The sectioning made it possible for her to wash out the bleach on the back of my head without disturbing the bleach on the front.

The time actually passed quickly. While my hair became progressively blonder, Roxie and I chatted, I Snapchatted like a maniac, and I checked some emails. I didn't expect my hair with the bleach to be so heavy. I kept having to ask Roxie and her assistant to push the bleach off my forehead and away from my brows. I wanted to keep my brows dark!

Full disclosure: Bleach doesn't burn as badly as I was expecting (although it's more than a tickle). To be safe, I had taken three Advil the morning of my process to help mitigate any pain, and I'm sure that helped a bit.
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Halfway There
While the bleach cooked, it also foamed, making me look like a Lego person. In this photo, the back of my hair is bleached and awaiting toning. The front is still processing.

Once my entire hair was bleached, Roxie worked New Wash from root to tip and let it sit while we ate lunch. (We were about four hours into the process at this point.) Unlike many other colorists, Roxie doesn't use Olaplex — a product that rebuilds the bonds of your hair with protein while it's being bleached.

"I'm personally a fan of using essential oils to balance the cuticle as opposed to proteins," she says. "I like New Wash because it's completely detergent-free and essential-oil-based. It has a lot of rose oil, which has a similar pH to the hair and scalp." Unlike Olaplex, which chemically links the protein bonds of your hair, New Wash mimics your strands' natural protective process by reconditioning the hair shaft with essential oils.
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Time To Tone
After I sat with the New Wash for about 45 minutes, Roxie applied a toner — the second part of the double-process. "This is where it's important to have a colorist who can really evaluate your coloring and choose the best shade of blond for you," she says. "The toner manipulates the color of the blond to suit your skin tone and hair texture." We landed on an icy, platinum wheat-blond that got a little darker around my roots.

Once my color was done, hairstylist Wes Sharpton gave me a quick cut, and I was ready for my close-up. The entire process took about six hours. And even though not a drop of Olaplex touched my strands, I was shocked at how soft they felt.

Before I left, Roxie and I talked upkeep. "After your initial bleach job, give your hair about three to seven days without washing to replenish its natural oils," she says. "If you're going to maintain the blond, plan on seeing your colorist for a touch-up every four to six weeks."
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Hey There, Blondie
It's been about two weeks since I went blond, and I am loving the change. My hair has lightened a touch, and I now have some dark roots, but I'm really digging where it's taken my look. I got a second haircut from Wes that accentuates my natural texture. I've also been experimenting with a ton of new products. (And I already have some favorites — story coming soon!)

Makeup-wise, I've been sticking to my classic cat-eye. But I have had to change up my lipstick shades. Instead of bright-reds, I opt for deep, brick hues. (I've found true reds bring out the pink in my skin, whereas darker tones downplay them more effectively.) I'm fully leaning into the '90s look, wearing all manner of browns and plums.

Roxie was right when she said going blond was life-changing — but it's been a really fun experience. "I think it's an interesting social experiment to change your hair and see how that personal change reverberates through other areas of your life," she says. "If it's something that you think you would never do, just try it. You never know. It could be the best thing that you ever do."
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