When Taylor Swift unveiled her bleach blonde bob on the cover of US Vogue’s 2016 May issue, she immediately changed several people’s opinion of her. Undeniably a stellar musician, it wasn’t until this moment that many within the fashion and beauty industry saw her aesthetic as particularly trailblazing.
Known for her harmless, preppy style and sweet mousy hair, she had rarely before been referenced as igniting any particular trend.
Two years – and one striking, metallic Met Gala appearance – later, Taylor’s own tresses may have returned to their safe space, but my appetite for those same, show-stopping strands has not subsided, so I paid a visit to high-end and hip London salon Larry King to meet Harriet Muldoon, Hair Colourist to the stars (including bleach-queen Pixie Lott) and all-round blonde expert, to take the platinum plunge.
One month on, and still basking in my good-hair-glory, here's my 8-step guide to things you should know before going white blonde…
CONSULT YOUR CALENDAR
This isn’t a decision that should be made impulsively. Having a bright white head of hair is a serious transformation and one that will take some getting used to. I spent the first 24 hours in a mad panic that I would never recognise myself in the mirror again, and it took at least a week to acknowledge how much I really loved it.
Thankfully, I had a quiet week with no big plans. I wouldn’t recommend jumping in if you have, say, a wedding or family event to attend in the next few days. It’s highly likely that Aunt Joan will gasp, and you’ll want to be 100% confident with it to be able to take that on the chin.
THERE ARE VARIOUS SHADES OF WHITE
If you thought that there was only one shade of white, you need to do a smidge more research before settling down in the salon chair. From creamy whites to almost purple platinums, it’s a good idea to think about what look you’re going for.
Your hairdresser will be able to help guide you depending on your skin tone, but the last thing you want is to go in hoping for Poppy Delevingne-esque ends and leave with a silvery sheen. I opted for a creamier blonde as I thought lilac tones would make my pale complexion feel too cold.
IT’S NOT A QUICK TRANSFORMATION
…and during the appointment – mine took 4.5 hours – you’ll hear a lot of technical jargon that might go over your head. Harriet broke down the steps for me beforehand so that I knew exactly what products were being used and what each did:
1. Apply Redken Flashlift always including PH Bonder to mid-sections, then roots, followed by the ends – a bonding service to ensure we retain the integrity of the hair during the process.
2. Separate each section with a foil to seal in moisture and heat to help with the lifting process.
3. Tone using Redken Shades EQ 9V to neutralise yellow tones, and finish with PH Bonder part 2 for ten minutes.
BEAUTY IS PAIN
For some reason, I didn’t even consider that applying layers upon layers of bleach straight to my scalp might be the slightest bit uncomfortable. So when I began feeling a burning sensation at the back of my head I panicked that I was having an allergic reaction.
Thankfully I wasn’t, and it was a totally normal part of the process. It’s not agony but I would recommend leaving the roll-neck at home as it can get a little toasty. On the plus side, it does elevate the cool hair rinse/head massage to whole new heights of deliciousness.
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IT’S SERIOUSLY HIGH-MAINTENANCE
And I don’t just mean in the salon. Before your appointment, it’s a good idea to pre-treat your hair with heaps of protective oils as, unsurprisingly, bleach can take its toll.
Post-appointment, your hair will have been stripped of a lot of its goodness (pigment, protein and oils) and might feel weak and damaged - especially if you have a very fine texture or light blonde tones. You can add moisture and nourishment with intense conditioning treatments like Redken Extreme Strength Builder or Ultimate Remedy Masque by Shu Uemura Art of Hair.
And if you start to see any tinges of yellow *shudder*, run out and find a bottle of silver shampoo such as Pro:voke's Touch of Silver or Bleach London’s Silver Shampoo & itioner. If you have the colour to the root, you’ll also likely need a touch-up every 6-8 weeks.
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AND IF YOU WANT TO GO BACK…?
You need to be patient. You could go cold turkey and grow it out, but if your natural hair is any darker than a regular blonde, the root line will likely be too dramatic.
The best way would be to gradually dye it deeper shades and then let your natural root grow through. Either way, it will take time.
IT CAN BE EXPENSIVE
Even without the up-keep and maintenance, the initial appointment is an investment with prices starting from £250 at Larry King.
I seriously would advise, however, not doing it on the cheap. The only thing scarier than dyeing your hair bright white is doing it somewhere that doesn't take appropriate care.
YOU WON’T REGRET IT
Regardless of my initial panic post-bleach, I feel like this was the hair I was born to have. (I was, in fact, born with it, before it faded at age 11 *sob*).
If you’ve thought about taking the plunge for longer than a fleeting moment, then there’s no better time than a scorching summer heatwave to channel your inner Xtina.
Thanks to Harriet (Colourist) and Vicky (Stylist) at Larry King.
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