Confessions of a Bleach Virgin

As you may have guessed from the title of this article, I have never bleached my hair. Correction: before two weeks ago, I had never bleached my hair. I’d dyed it red-brown in middle school and even tried turquoise tips a couple times in high school. Truth be told, I’ve always been a little scared of bleaching my hair. We’ve all heard the horror stories: bleach turns your hair into a frizzy mess, fries your hair, makes your hair fall out, and burns like hell. I never thought it was worth it.

Then I learned that my dream hair color, silver-lilac, required a platinum base to turn out properly. Seeing as I’m graduating in less than a year, I figured mermaid hair was a now-or-never kind of thing. So I made an appointment with Blair Brown in the U District and prepared to lose my bleach virginity.

 

 

I began my journey with a consultation with Blair. A consultation with her was really essential for my being a first-time bleacher. She talked me through what the process would look like by describing the effects the bleach would have on my hair without glossing over any of the gross stuff or advising me toward what products to stock up on in my new life as a blonde. In all honesty, this part of the experience wasn’t my favorite. As it turns out, bleached hair requires a lot of maintenance which is something I wasn’t used to with my natural waves and color. Hearing about the work I’d have to put into my new hair color initially brought me down, but I’m really glad Blair made sure to tell me. I was able to buy purple shampoo, coconut oil, and smoothing serum and mentally prepare myself for the new texture, which has made this transition so much easier.

 

 

When the appointment came around, Blair made sure to walk me through what was going on and answer any questions I had. She explained that the bleach essentially stripped the hair of its melanin, leaving it colorless and fragile. When my head started steaming, she told me it was because of the Olaplex, a water-based protection treatment that was added to the bleach to prevent breakage and keep the hair as soft as possible.

 

 

Feeling my head heat up under this plastic hair cap was a very strange sensation. I worried that I’d come off like a coward if I told Blair that it was starting to hurt– turns out, this was the wrong thing to do. I ended up with a chemical burn on the nape of my neck that took nearly two weeks to heal. Apparently, though, that’s an incredibly common part of this process, especially if you have to bleach your hair multiple times to completely strip the color away. Luckily, my hair was light and untouched enough that I only had to bleach it once.

Seeing myself with platinum blond hair for the first time was completely surreal. I felt like Kim Kardashian with bleached hair, which was reassuring because that’s what color my hair will be when the silver dye fades completely. Even though my hair is silver-blue-purple, I’m now a blonde underneath.

 

 

 

 

By the time Blair had washed the bleach out, given me a conditioning treatment, toned my hair to remove as much yellow as possible, and blow dried my hair to apply the dye, it had been nearly five hours. Luckily, Blair was a good person to spend so much time with. We rocked out to early 2000’s pop, drank mimosas, and Googled where Kylie Jenner’s wigs come from (the answer is pretty much impoverished women with great hair in Third World countries). I can’t even imagine what this process would have been like if I’d been stuck with someone I didn’t end up liking for six hours on end.

 

 

We were both surprised to see how well the color took to my hair. Instead of being a wispy gray-lilac, my hair was tinted blue with strands where the purple really stood out (and even a random strand of light pink). I was initially a little shocked, but I was so in love that it didn’t matter. I had been worried about what my hair would look like when it faded, but having such a saturated hair color meant that it would only fade to something I continued to love. I’ve washed my hair twice since I got my hair done and it’s still a color I absolutely adore.

 

 

I love my mermaid hair so much. I get compliments on it every day, which has really done wonders for my self-esteem. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror, which is initially disorrienting but also kind of fun. I get to experiment with new makeup looks and new color combinations in my wardrobe. Being bleach blonde is more work than going au natural, but it’s been completely worth it.

 

 

ONYX by Blair Brown is located just north of University Village in Seattle. See more of Blair’s work on Facebook and Instagram, and make an appointment via her website. Check out her student menu, which offers a 20-30 percent discount for students.