Bleached blonde hair care

Casual Philly Ren Faire selfie as I hide in the shade under a tree.
Here’s a cute selfie from the Philly Ren Faire, right after getting my hair done.

I am officially back to being seriously blonde.
I’m giving Draco Malfoy a run for his money.
I could cosplay as a hipster Daenerys Targaryen.

In another life (15 or so years ago) I was still basking in being naturally very blonde. Come puberty or so, my hair began its rapid shift to… dishwater. And then, for a long time, my hair was all sorts of colors. As in, most of my friends have never seen my natural hair color.  And until recently, I wasn’t even entirely sure* what it was.

MAC Flat out Fabulous Lipstick
Violet based brown in spring 2014.
Baby's first #undercut. Thanks @hair_by_ratch!
First undercut and strawberry blonde by November 2014.

I’ve gone through phases. Mostly flipping between reds and levels blondes (because I like to torture myself) with some time spent as a (violet-based) brunette in there. For most of my hair coloring fun, I was using box dye, before eventually graduating on to color from Sally Beauty with some rare salon help before college graduation. But no matter the color, I’m constantly drawn back to blonde. Even people I’ve met for the first time seem to deny that I’ve ever been anything but blonde.

I am by no means a professional, but here are some of my favorite products for keeping my hair blonde and strong.

House #Targaryen realness or Draco Malfoy cosplay?

  • Olaplex – My stylist started touting the wonders of Olaplex before the salon even got it, which was still months before I started seeing it crop up on my favorite beauty blogs. Not everyone is free from the gummy bleached hair syndrome with it, but there’s a noticeable difference in the state of my hair when using this vs going straight for the blonde. In fact, my stylist’s confidence in the product is what swayed me into dipping my toes back into blonder waters.

I’m also one of a handful of clients at my salon (who go all blonde) who gets the special “cooling” 30 volume developer. Not in making my hair a cool color, that comes later, but in that it’s sort of…mentholated? so instead of the normal burn it’s a less intense cool burn. It’s hard to explain, but my scalp tends to just get uncomfortably itchy instead of painfully itchy. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s worth checking with your stylist to see if they have or can get something similar.

  • Ardell Red Gold Corrector – If you’re going the DIY-route blonde I can’t personally vouch for any bleach. My hair is light enough that I can make do with some blonde hair color from a beauty supply store (I’ve used Wella Color Charm and Ion from Sally Beauty) and some 30 developer. The woe of not toning is that your hair may end up a bit brassy. That’s nothing a packet of Ardell Red Gold Corrector can’t fix. My hair, as ashy as it naturally is, aggressively clings to red tones, even when using cool based color. The color corrector helped me stay on the right side of ashy.

Bleached blonde hair care
Bleached blonde hair care

  • Purple shampoo and conditioner – In this department, I lack loyalty. But they’re crucial. My stylist says that I only need one or the other, especially since purple shampoo tends to be drying and the conditioner doesn’t condition enough. So I’ll sometimes use Jhirmack Distinctions Silver Plus Ageless Shampoo and other times I’ll use Ion Cool Blonde Conditioner. And while I haven’t tried Shimmer Lights (I know, right?) I did pick up a tube of L’Oreal Paris EverPure Blonde Brass Banisher Shampoo at Target (they didn’t have the conditioner in stock.) It’s only slightly tinted purple, so I’m not sure how much brass banishing it’s doing, but I like the smell and that it’s sulfate free.

Bleached blonde hair careBleached blonde hair care

I’ve also been experimenting with DIY purple shampoo and conditioner. I read about mixing gentian violet (an old-school anti-bacterial and anti-fungal) that is incredibly purple. It’s more or less just purple dye. But just a few drops will turn your regular shampoo or conditioner purple. I’ve used it in the towards the end bit of my Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle shampoo and that’s seriously just two or three drops (the shampoo is clear!)

Bleached blonde hair care

  • Moisturizing shampoo and conditioner – I love Pureology’s Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner, though right now I’m using the light version of the conditioner, the regular was weighing down my hair too much for my liking. Prior to this I was using L’Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner – I got hooked on the Pureology at the salon, of course. I try to stick to sulfate-free, not for some crunchy reason, my hair just tends to be frizzier with sulfates.

Bleached blonde hair care

  • Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Fortifier – What is this witchcraft? I use a single pump on my towel-dried ends, and I swear it helps prevent my hair from getting damaged. I rarely heat style, but I used to get way more split ends, no matter how much I babied it.
  • Dry shampoo – What you use is up to you. I ran out of my Fruity & Cheeky Batiste, and my Herbal Essences clogged. So lately I’ve been using Lush’s No Drought. I like it better now that my hair is incredibly light. My favorite dry shampoo technique is to put it on at night, follow the instructions of the product and then go to sleep. I swear it works better this way!

Bleached blonde hair care

  • Deep conditioner – Now this is really up to the individual and their hair type. I’m currently working my way though a tub of L’Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm. I like it well enough, it does its job and is relatively cheap. But I’m not a mega fan of the scent. So back to the drawing board with this one.

Obviously, this is a lot. But going this blonde (or any level of blonde) is kind of a commitment. I live by the whole “it’s just hair, it grows back” mentality. But I figure I may as well keep it healthy and looking good.

*More on how I figured out my natural hair color later.


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