Let me start by saying that I love being a brunette. But ever since Michelle Williams debuted platinum hair in the Louis Vuitton ads below, I've been captivated by her hair color. It was so bright and bold, and it looked amazing against her skin.
Here's Michelle in LV's fall 2013 campaign:
And again in LV's 2015 resort campaign:
I loved it. I wanted it. So I decided to do something blonde. Shock-white blonde. But I couldn't do it alone. Only an expert can take hair from being basically black to basically white. Who better to turn to than the very genius behind Williams's color, Marie Robinson, lead colorist and owner of her eponymous salon in NYC? Together, Marie, fellow colorist Maggie Castellanos, and her assistant Susana Carranza (It takes a village, guys!) turned me from the darkest brown I'd ever been to the prettiest platinum blonde. Here's everything that I/my hair went through in order to get my dream color.
Before the Big Dye
What I didn't know is that if you put a shit ton of color in your hair, it's super-hard to go platinum. Dying is easier when you're dealing with virgin hair that hasn't been penetrated with artificial color. Alas, I'd had blonde highlights, gone ombré, and colored my hair darker on a regular basis to knock out the few gray hairs I have, so I needed Maggie to strip the dye from my hair with a sulfur-based formula—twice.
Then it was time for the patch test. Maggie applied bleach on a piece of hair, wrapped it in tin foil, and waited to see if my natural color lifted evenly enough — if it did, I could move to the step of getting a double process, or DP, which is what happens when you lighten your hair more than two shades.
My hair color fate lie in a batch of bleach and I knew it. I was psyched but also anxious that my hair dreams would be crushed. Maggie peeled away the tin foil to check the lightness of the tiny section of hair and gave me the most exciting news I'd heard in a while: My hair could be transformed into my muse Michelle Williams's platinum 'do! I immediately made my next appointment for a week later.
Waiting seven days before I went into the salon again was T O R T U R E because I was so excited. But I was also nervous. Would I love it as much as I thought I would? Would I look good as a blonde? Would I have to walk around with orange hair? Would all my hair break off? Would my friends like it? Would guys find it hot or would they think it was too fashiony? So many questions.
Ultimately, I knew I was in good hands — Marie and Maggie are perfectionists — but any big change like this can be nerve-racking and I had all the feelings about it.
Finally, it was the day I'd become a full-on platinum blonde. EEEEK!
10 a.m.: Marie gave Maggie the go-ahead to start the DP. The process is similar to when you highlight your hair using foils, except that every single section of my head was about to be highlighted with an off-scalp bleach.
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.: When all my hair was wrapped, I had about 150 pieces of foil on my head. I never thought foil could weigh so much. My neck was fighting to hold my head up and I felt like a human leftover wrapped in so much foil.
1:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Maggie rolled over a four-headed heater that looked like something out of a robot movie. As the bleaching agent inside the foils began to process my hair, Marie and Maggie would check it often to track the progress, much like you would a prized organic turkey on Thanksgiving. As the pieces continued to process from brown to an orangey-yellow shade, Maggie and Susana would rinse out strands at the shampoo bowl. Trips to the sink happened on a minute-to-minute basis over the course of an hour, in order to keep the integrity of my hair intact.
3: 45 p.m.: I took a break to scarf down some lunch.
4:15 p.m.: After the back of my head was done being processed, Marie and Maggie moved onto the front half of my head. My eyes started to burn a bit and my scalp began to get really hot. Every once in a while, I'd close my eyes, they'd water up, and a Lauren-Conrad-The-Hills-slow-motion tear sans the mascara (because I wear waterproof) would slide down my cheek. Beauty is pain, I kept reminding myself.
5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.: Walking back and forth to the shampoo bowl, I got a lot of interesting stares. Even though everyone was there getting their hair done, I could sense people wondering what was happening to my hair color. And I get it — I had creamy white, orange, blush, and golden yellow going on. I thought, Am I going to have to walk around with multi-tonal hair because of my DIY hair coloring days? Please tell me that's not the case!
7:00 p.m.: We highlighted my hair again to try to lift the orangey-blush tones away. Both Marie and Maggie kept checking on my hair every couple of minutes.
8:00 p.m.: After my roots reached their maximum lightness, Maggie took me to the sink. At that point, Marie came over to see if my hair could stand yet another round of bleaching because there was still a band of a blush color spanning around the mid section of my hair. To her surprise, my hair was still holding up nicely.
8:45 p.m.: Marie and Maggie quickly applied bleach to my strands from mid-lengths to ends. "Timing is everything when you're going lighter, because if you wait even a minute too long, you can ruin your hair," Marie told me as I was praying that I wasn't going to become a strand-breakage statistic. My hair finally reached a pale golden shade that Marie was pleased with.
9:30 p.m.: Twelve hours had passed since we started. At this point, we were all exhausted, but everyone's determination paid off, and I was platinum blonde! I was obsessed.
Even though I loved my new hair, I wanted it to be even brighter and whiter. I went back to the salon the next week so Marie and Maggie could push my hair to the next level of lightness. "When you come back in four to six weeks for a root touch-up, we can lighten it overall again," Marie told me. Yessss.
As my roots grew in over the next couple of weeks, I embraced them. I love the edgy look they lend to my already bold hair color.
Four weeks later, I was back at Marie's salon to freshen up my color before a friend's wedding. While Maggie was working her magic, Marie came over and explained the deal with root touch-ups: "The thing about bleaching your regrowth is that the hair can break off if you're not watching closely," she said. I was so glad she was paying such close attention to my tresses.
Once the natural pigment from my roots was lifted, the bleach was rinsed out, my hair was shampooed, and then the rest of my hair from the mid-lengths down to the ends was bleached again. And voilá—four hours later, I was even blonder!
Even though the process was a bit grueling, having blonde hair is a blast. And yes, at least in my opinion, it's true: Blondes really do have more fun.
A special thanks to Erin Kelly, Marie Robinson, Maggie Castellanos, and Susana Carranza who spent hours and hours making this happen for me!