Dashing out of the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa & Salon on Fifth Avenue, I ran smack into an old boyfriend and his wife.
The last time he saw me was seven years ago. At that time I was very brunette, extremely angry, and in the midst of tossing him out of my life. My pop-up appearance as a sunny blonde glamazon (freshly highlighted and blown-out that morning) was worth every minute in foils and bleach.
Going blonde was the best beauty move I’ve ever made, thanks to my colorist and guru Brad Johns. Oh yeah, I was still confident, clever, and ballsy back in what I refer to as “The Dark Ages,” but Brad saw the beachy surfer girl beneath and was the catalyst I needed to take a leap out of my comfort zone.
Aside from never having to look at another picture of Christie Brinkley with hair envy, I discovered the cosmetic advantages of being blonde went far beyond my expectations. My skintone took on a peaches-and-cream warmth, dark undereye circles and lines were less obvious, and I began to need less foundation and concealer. My hair looks and feels ten times thicker (color does add texture and bulk to the hair shaft) and is healthier than ever, mainly because I treat it like a couture silk dress instead of a cotton tee.
If you’re thinking about making an extreme color change like I did, go to a pro! A drastic color transformation from dark to light requires much skill and knowledge of the tricky pigmentation process. Getting rid of the stubborn orange and red undertones and avoiding breakage are major concerns that a novice cannot address. At-home color is great if you want to stay within your natural shade and just bump it up a bit by going a notch brighter or lighter, while covering greys. But if you’re thinking blonde follow these tips:
• If you’re currently brunette and on the fence about going all-out blonde, on a strict budget, or just not into a high-maintenance routine, a tortoiseshell multi-color effect is the way to go. “Think caramel, butterscotch, and cognac highlights just around the face. This keeps blonding low-key and touchups to a minimum,” advises Brad.
• If you’re not ready for real change, use highlights to get the ball rolling anyway. Start with hairline ones just around the face so you get a feeling for how you’ll look, then ramp up the highlights by going bolder, chunkier, and varying the color for depth and a contemporary look. Keep your color goal warm-golden, honey, and buttery, rather than cool and ashy -- which can have a dated frosted look.
• Don’t let roots scare you. Blonde can camouflage grey regrowth easily, and dark roots on blondes just look funky. Go for a pro who uses foils rather than paint-on streaks for the richest multi-color blonde-on-blonde effect; the colorist can get closer to the roots and achieve a more dimensional look.
• If your blonde shade starts looking too solid, it’s a definite signal -- time to break up the color with lowlights or deepen the base to a dark honey and add lighter pieces. “Even short tousled cuts with lots of layers for texture need tonal difference,” says Brad. Take a look at Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Fonda, and Sharon Stone for inspiration.