I am notoriously unadventurous when it comes to my hair. The most "dramatic" switch-up I've ever made was getting my medium-length tresses cut into a very short, blunt bob. While that was a welcome change, various coronavirus restrictions meant I had to let it grow out entirely. They say you always want what you can't have, and with salons closed for what felt like an eternity, I began imagining myself rocking all manner of Instagram-worthy hairstyles. The shullet (shag meets mullet), curtain bangs, and feathered layers all featured in my imagination as I geared up for my post-lockdown chrysalis-to-butterfly moment. But what I wanted most was a serious color transformation.
Copper, creamy blonde, and hazelnut are just a handful of the muted yet luxurious shades reigning supreme among those who have attempted DIY dye jobs at home or made sure they were the first ones in the salon this month. I had other ideas, though. Being at home more has allowed me to channel my most authentic self, and that means becoming a lot more in tune with my emo roots. Often filed under nostalgia, TikTok proves emo is alive and kicking, and scene culture (emo's big sister) even more so. Suddenly, it wasn't enough to reclaim the full eyelid wing and turn up to Zoom meetings in head-to-toe My Chemical Romance merch. I wanted the hair to match — and it had to be blue.
While moody blue was the ultimate brooding shade to complement our gloomy lockdown winter, iridescent blue is the spring/summer upgrade. On TikTok, the #bluehair hashtag has a whopping 1.1 billion views and counting, as colorists create ocean-blue face-framing highlights and cobalt dip dyes. But as the weather warms up, trends are moving away from concentrated color to much softer flecks, which provide hair with more of a glimmering finish that is brought to life in sunlight.
Inspired by TikTok's modern emo kids and New York salon Sally Hershberger's beautiful blue creations, I booked in to Blue Tit in London's Dalston neighborhood — one of the most innovative salons for trending color — for my hair makeover. Colorist Declan Haworth has a roster of celebrity clients, from Jessica Woodley to Jack Saunders, and knows exactly how to make hair pop. My hair is naturally brown so some pre-lightening was inevitable and, as it's pretty dark, it had to be bleach. To save my strands from too much damage, we decided to turn just the top section blue — a smart tip for anyone with thick hair, or a lot of it. This meant that the blue strands would appear like a veil of color over the brown but still make a noticeable difference, with minimal damage.
If your hair is dyed, you'll know Olaplex is something of a savior to bleached strands, so after using the brand's reparative treatment, it was on with a blue toner; the salon uses OWAY. When working with a color like blue, which often stains and can be a pain to bleach out should you change your mind, a color toner is a better alternative to a more permanent dye. The whole transformation took around four hours (mostly because bleach was painstakingly painted and reapplied to lighten my very dark hair) and Declan advised me not to wash my hair for 48 hours to allow the pigment to really settle in.
Having never dyed my hair any kind of color before, I was more excited than nervous. Initially, the result appeared to be quite subtle, but as soon as I stepped outside and my hair caught the light, it revealed itself to be a shimmery denim blue with indigo undertones. With every wash, the color should slowly fade to more of a stonewashed denim hue, which is just as versatile (and Instagram-worthy).
With any color transformation like this one, there are things you need to know before going for it. Firstly, you'll have to rethink your entire hair-care routine. Switching to a sulfate-free shampoo and swapping out your conditioner for a more nourishing hair mask can help preserve color for longer and soften bleached hair, which tends to feel dry and tangle easily. I recently tried Olaplex No.8 Intense Bond Moisture Mask, which is incredible, but BLEACH London Reincarnation Mask is also excellent. Much like red and black, blue pigment is notoriously difficult to control and can end up fading into teal and, in some cases, eventually green. To keep my hair as vibrant as possible for longer, I bought Crazy Color Sapphire Hair Dye [not sold in the US] as a top-up. Moroccanoil Color Depositing Mask in Aquamarine is just as effective and doesn't stain as much.
Hair is intrinsically linked to identity, as we all know, but I underestimated how much of an impact such a striking color transformation would have on mine. Barely 12 years old, I wasn't allowed to dye my hair the first time emo was cool, but I'm glad I got to do it now. It's incredible; I feel like a new person. I think this might be the start of my love affair with color, with fuchsia next on my radar. Watch this space...
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.