Not all blondes have more fun.
When you’re considering getting a tattoo, common wisdom suggests waiting 24 hours before committing. I now believe that that truism should also apply to going blond. When I was in my early 20s, I’d rattle off all the hair colours I’d tried—fiery red, inky brown, icy platinum—like they were countries I’d visited. But as I grew up, the restless desire to reinvent my look faded along with my dye jobs, and I returned to my natural, if unremarkable, light-brown hue. Perhaps it was boredom that prompted me to go blond again last summer—or all those articles promising that golden hair would induce compliments from strangers, free drinks and bended-knee apologies from ex-boyfriends. (Spoiler alert: This is not one of those articles.) It was as if a switch had flipped. I wanted a change and found myself in the stylist’s chair sporting 50 pieces of chemical-laced foil within the day.
As the peroxide worked its magic, I imagined how the warmed-up hue would play off my full, dark brows and wondered whether I’d need to change up my style. Post-blowout, those thoughts were replaced with just one: “What have I done?” The colour, which I had hoped would turn out a honey blond, resembled margarine—shiny but flat and yellow-tinged. It made my pale face even paler, and my brows (the proud achievement of teenage under-plucking) didn’t just stand out—they were shouting for attention. On the way home from the salon, I walked through Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park with my phone’s camera in selfie mode and fixed on my face, trying (and mostly failing) to capture my new look in a flattering light. I didn’t feel like me, and nothing—not the encouraging words of friends or all the purple shampoo in the world—could change my mind.
Approximately 23 hours later, I was back in the chair (a different one—my colourist and I are taking some space), and when the stylist took the towel off my head to reveal dripping strands of dark-brown hair, I practically laughed with relief. The chemical damage and hundreds of wasted dollars did come with an unexpected upside: I ended up with a glossy espresso shade that gives off a sophisticated yet easygoing vibe. I’m happy with the colour, and I can finally put the vision of “blond me” to rest. At least we had one day together.
BUT WAIT: DIDN’T SELENA GOMEZ GO BLOND IN A DAY AND LOOK GREAT?
Yes, but she is a celebrity. “I don’t really recommend it—in a normal salon situation, it’s really reaching for the stars,” says L.A.-based hairstylist Nikki Lee, who took Gomez from dark brown to “Nirvana blond” in nine hours before an American Music Awards appearance. Lee says she was only able to pull it off by working with Riawna Capri, with whom she co-owns Nine Zero One salon (they each did one side of Gomez’s head), and not taking any other clients that day. If you’re ready to try it, book multiple appointments to reach your desired shade and use a deep-conditioning mask in lieu of regular conditioner each time you wash your hair, says Lee.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Flawless Recovery Deep Conditioner ($13).
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.