Up until a few weeks ago, my idea of "going blonde" was getting a few face-framing highlights or a subtle caramel balayage down the lengths of my hair. I’d show up to dinner to show my friends my shocking (to me) new hair colour, and they’d proceed to tell me that, while it looked nice, it wasn’t all that different. “You’re still a brunette, Victoria,” they’d say.
Valid. I was. But then, I took the plunge, popped into the Bumble and Bumble salon in New York City with a picture of The Blonde Salad in hand, and emerged a full-on blonde. Truth be told, I do think they have more fun, but not necessarily when it comes to taking care of their hair. My routine completely changed. I felt like I had to relearn how to wash, how to condition, how to brush! I’ve finally aced the new regimen, but for anyone else who’s struggling to take care of a much lighter dye job, we chatted with a few pros to find out exactly what you need to know and exactly what you need to do.
WASH LESS—MUCH LESS.
This one was particularly difficult for me because I’m a daily morning exerciser, and the sweat that collections on my scalp makes my hair oily and dirty very quickly. But cutting down on the shampoos is one of the most important things you need to do after you go blonde. "When you are lifting the hair, it tends to be on the drier side, so shampooing your hair too often can further strip it of its natural oils," explains Cutler SOHO Senior Colourist Rachel Bodt. "I recommend to shampoo your hair less following a colouring treatment so it the hair can regain its natural moisture." In fact, she says to wait a full two days after your initial appointment to give it a scrub. On top of that, continued washing can fade your colour, or bring on brass.
PURCHASE SHAMPOO WISELY
Purple is your power move. While picking up a lilac-hued shampoo is of the utmost importance to prevent fading and warping, Bumble and Bumble colourist Marcy Cline also suggests purple conditioner and going into your salon for regular glosses. This should keep your hard-earned shade in-tact. We dig John Frieda Sheer Blonde Color Renew Tone Correcting Shampoo ($17.99; priceline.com.au).
Your hair is going to be extra thirsty on a regular basis. Use a deep conditioning mask—like Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Overnight Hair Rescue ($40; sephora.com.com.au)—about once a week.
TAKE YOUR COLOUR APPOINTMENTS SLOW
Cline says one of the biggest mistakes colourists make when taking a brunette client to the blonde side is not educating them on the process. Sometimes, you’ll need to visit the salon a few times in order to get it right. "Because to get your hair that light in one shot, it’s going to damage your hair a lot, so you want to maintain the hair’s integrity, I would recommend taking it a little slower." If you’re a true brunette, start with highlights and visit your salon about every four weeks for more.
GO SULFATE AND ALCOHOL-FREE
Bodt recommends avoiding products that have alcohol in them, which could further dry out the hair, in addition to exclusively using a sulfate-free shampoo.
We’re not talking about that type of protection, though you should do that, too. "When people when see breakage, they assume it must be from the colour, but a lot of the time it’s actually from using high heat on freshly-lightened hair," notes Bodt. You'll want to be sure to use heat protectant sprays before touching a wand to your strands. Also, be sure to lower the temps so you're not frying off your hair in the process of making it wavy.
ASK FOR A BONDING TREATMENT
As the hair is being dyed, it’s also often being broken. That’s where a bonding treatment comes in. "I think the first step to ensure your hair doesn’t get too dry is from initial hair colour service is to ask your colorist to use a bonding treatment like Redken pH-Bonder, which gets added directly to the colour so as the colour is entering your hair, the treatment can help rebond the broken hair bonds and prevents further damage," explains Bodt. "Redken pH-Bonder also has an At-Home component ($40; salonstyle.com.au) that you can use following your colouring service to further protect the hair."
This article previously appeared on InStyle US.