Going blond can be confusing, financially draining and just downright frustrating, but it doesn't have to be.
Communicating to your stylist that you have a particular shade of blond in mind (honey, ash, platinum—there are so many variations) isn't always so simple. Even if you do get the shade you're coveting, you run the risk of seriously damaging your locks. Miss the mark with either of these and that expensive dye job just looks cheap.
How do you make sure you're doing it the right way? Follow these golden (no pun intended) rules from Beyoncé's colorist Rita Hazan.
Be Realistic: "You should have realistic goals, and your colorist should give you realistic answers," advised Rita. The good news is everyone (even those with dark locks) can turn to the light side, but the bad news is not all blondes are not created equal. "Not everybody can be so blond, even the blond I just did on Beyoncé is not so blond, but it's very blond for her," she said. The pro's rule of thumb: Flip through a magazine and look for models who have the same complexion and eye color as you do.
Go Slow: "The trick is to go blond slowly," she said. "If you have brown hair and you're trying to go blond in one shot, it's going to get brassy and you're going to have a lot of damage," she confirmed. "I don't care who's doing it; it's impossible to get the color perfect on the first shot," continued Rita. It's going to take multiple visits to get that desired color. Oftentimes, during the process, clients wind up changing their mind as well.
Be Patient: So how long will the transition take? According to the celeb colorist: three to four months. That's one appointment a month dedicated to just a few highlights (she recommended starting with a few face-framing layers and a few at the crown and building from there if it's your first time), not a full head in one sitting. "The results are twofold: number one, you get the color you want and number two, your hair's not going to fall out and break off," she clarified. "If your hair isn't healthy, it's never going to look good, no matter what you do to it," continued the pro.
Enjoy the Process: So if you're determined to go blond, be patient but enjoy it. "The different stages of blond are pretty," she encouraged. If your hair looks awful in the transition process (a.k.a. chunky zebra stripes in orange-y tones), change stylists immediately. "Hair should never look bad; it shouldn't look like you're in the middle of doing something," said Rita.
Bleach Is OK: Depending on who you ask, some experts will shy away from bleach favoring tinting instead, but not Rita. She even uses the stuff on Beyoncé's hair. "Anybody I want to make lighter, I use bleach, but I put oils in my bleach to soften it up," she shared. "If you don't use a bleach, it's never going to be as blond as you want it, and it's always going to be brassy," she confirmed. "You actually have to use bleach to get through to that blond color, so that it's not orange-y," elaborated the pro.
Don't Rely on Toner Too Much: Tell your stylist to go easy on the toner if you want your color to last. If you've ever had your hair bleached, you've likely sat with your head in a sink while it was doused with toner. "I don't really use toners. A lot of stylists think toner is important for color, but I just use it to add shine, not change the color," she said. "Using toner to manipulate the color of your hair—that's a mistake because once you wash it the toner is gone and whatever's left under there could be a mess," she said.
Maintain Your Color: Once you're at your desired shade, you can let out a sigh of relief. Don't get us wrong: Maintenance is still expensive. It's just not quite as expensive as it is to get it there. While Bey might get touch-ups every three weeks, depending on what she's doing, you can get away with touch-ups every six to eight weeks. "You also need to maintain color at home. You can't just get it done in the salon and simply wait for your next appointment," she said. To help you keep healthy, shiny, and vibrant highlights that don't fade, use a gloss two to three times a week in addition to color-treated shampoo and conditioner, of course.
So there you have it, you're only months away from looking like Beyoncé—kind of.