It can happen to even the most confident brown-haired beauties among us: we go to sleep at night feeling proud to be sultry brunettes and we wake up the next morning feeling like we could use some Jen Aniston-style blonde highlights in our life. On the other hand, there are also those life-long blonde bombshells who wake up wondering why they can’t try a darker ‘do à la Jennifer Lawrence.
After dealing with our own fair share of hair dye disasters (you know that awkward moment when you discover that you’ve bleached your own hair to the color and consistency of straw? We do.), we at Her Campus are determined to save our fellow collegiettes from their own potential hair dye horror stories, so we’re here to fill you in on the biggest dos and don’ts of hair coloring.
DO use non-permanent dyes to experiment with your hair
College is all about trying new things – why not a new look? If you haven’t colored your hair before, you shouldn’t be afraid to start now. A celebrity hairstylist and owner and creative director of Angelo David Salon in Manhattan, Angelo David suggests that collegiettes who are nervous about making too drastic a change start with demi- and semi-permanent dyes. Because non-permanent dyes last for about four to six weeks (demi-permanents survive 10 to 25 washes and semi-permanents only last six to 12), you won’t have to worry about being stuck with a color you'll dislike for years to come or having to deal with root touch-ups. Unlike permanent dyes, which break down the hair cuticle, pull out natural color, and put color back in, non-permanent dyes avoid damaging the hair by simply depositing color like a coating.
Unfortunately, demi- and semi-permanents can’t lighten hair, so for those collegiettes seeking the sun-kissed effect, David suggests “a bit of face-framing highlights that look natural. Some signature highlights around the face and at the top of the hair, they look like they belong there... almost like you've had that color since you were born.” While demi- and semi-permanent dyes are safe to apply with over-the-counter dyes, highlights should only be done by a professional in a salon.
DON’T bleach or highlight with over-the-counter hair coloring products
Sure, most of us can probably admit that we have a bit of a girl-crush on Blake Lively and her lovely blonde locks, but that doesn’t mean we should reach for that box of bottle-blonde bleach at the drug store! “I would NEVER recommend highlighting your hair at home,” urges Jessica Salerno, a senior at Ohio University. “I have seen too many girls try to do it themselves and it comes out looking awful and fried.”
David agrees. “[M]ost people tend to read just the box [of the over-the-counter-product], the front cover itself... They look at a blonde and they say, ‘Oh, I want to be just like her,’ but their hair is jet black. They're not going to get the same results, so there's the big room for error... This is what happens: most times people come in [to my salon] with orange hair because they didn't lift up high enough,” meaning they didn’t strip enough pigment out of their hair with the bleach. Other times, David explains, “they come in with white, platinum hair that's breaking. It's rare that they know the amount and type of bleach or peroxide that they'll need to put on their hair to get it to the right tone.”
Joanna Kingston, a junior at Merrimack College, was a textbook example of the potential problems that arise from at-home lightening. “When I was in the sixth grade, those big chunky highlights were big,” explains Joanna. “My Mum for some reason thought we could handle it at home. Not only did I get streaky, chunky highlights, but they were [also] pumpkin orange! I was wearing bandanas for two weeks before a salon could process a corrective coloring on my hair!”
Skip the hair horror stories, collegiettes, and leave the lightening to the salon professionals!