My Experience Dyeing My Hair

Me as a blonde, December 2018

When it comes to hair, I’ve pretty much done it all. Cut it all off for cancer donation, had highlights, balayage, ombré, crazy colours, henna dyed it, you name it. But the biggest change I ever did was bleaching it blonde. I’ve since dyed my hair back to brunette, but I was a blonde for the last three years.

I really loved being blonde, but I also felt it was time for a change. I don’t even remember how and when I decided to go back to brunette, but once I decided it was a done deal.

Dyeing my hair blonde, however, was a seriously different process. It took me ages. My hair naturally is incredibly dark brown, which would already be tricky enough lightening to the extent that I did. I had an extra layer of difficultly added (literally), though, as I had previously been dyeing my hair with Henna dye.

I’ll take a little aside here to discuss a disclaimer on Henna as hair dye: it is absolutely NOTHING like other hair dyes, or henna tattoos. I’d encourage anyone considering it to do some research of their own, but I can discuss my experience here (as well as the fallout that came from me not doing any research whatsoever). At the time I was a young, bright eyed first year looking to do something to accentuate my newfound independence. However, I’ve always been somewhat rational in my time being free to do as I please so anything too radical (ie. tattoos, piercings) was kind of out of the question, as that kind of thing I personally would want to put a lot of thought into. When I saw Henna hair dye being sold at a store I won’t name, it sounded perfect. The salesperson hyped it up perfectly: all-natural hair dye that would turn my then-balayage locks a stunning ginger, as well as acting as a hair treatment. I was sold.

Me, after my first round of highlights to go blonde after Henna, December 2015

Henna works amazingly for some people, but there are downsides I was not aware of before I dove in head first. First of all: henna does not come out of your hair. Ever. The colour may fade, you may not be able to see it, but it’s there. If you’re doing it once, or have no intention of ever going lighter, this really doesn’t matter. But when I walked into the hair salon and asked to go blonde, I was shocked to find out that until all my henna-dyed hair had been grown out and cut off, the answer was essentially a no. I eventually started out slowly with highlights a few months later, but honestly, for almost the entirety of my first year blonde my hair always had a strawberry tint. Furthermore, the amount of bleach needed to hide the henna dye as best as my hair stylist could was immense. It totally fried my hair, and all in all it took about a year of highlights to get it to look “blonde”. Even for another few months, it was still dirty blonde at best.

Second of all — although significantly less important — henna is SO difficult to do. Its messy, its hard to apply and to prep, hard to wash out and keeping it in your hair for hours is honestly exhausting. If henna sounds right for you then don’t let this deter you (pain is beauty rings true for this one). But do your research first.

Anyways, back to the real matter at hand: bleaching my hair. I will absolutely never regret doing it, I really did love being blonde. But WOW was it ever high maintenance.

First of all — the upkeep. I know it is to be expected, but before I did it I really didn’t know how intense it would be. First of all, it’s expensive: be prepared to drop a LOT of money on constant hair appointments. Now that I’ve stopped dyeing my hair I’ve had so much of my budget free up for other things. It was worth it, but it was crazy expensive. And for those of us with super dark hair, the amount of time spent in the chair at hair appointments is a lot. I’m talking about 5+ hours each time. It really was so time consuming, especially since I had to go in for highlights every 6-8 weeks.

Me shortly after going blonde, September 2016

Second of all — the maintenance outside of dyeing appointments. I was never great with hair–growing up, I always had shorter hair so I couldn’t do much with it myself. Bleaching my hair was a HUGE learning curve. I use about 4-5 different products before blow drying my hair still to this day, and I absolutely cannot wash it without using a hair mask if I want to help keep it looking healthy. Furthermore, my hair was so fried I could almost never style it. Straightening and curling it, even just once in a while, took a noticeable toll on my hair. I’ve never been one for doing my hair every day, but if I had been it certainly would have been out of the question. I took supplements to help it grow in healthier, but ultimately I just had to be super careful with it 24/7.

All this being said though, I LOVED being blonde. Changing your hair is such a simple and fun way to make a major change in your life with little-to-no consequences. After all, it’s just hair–it can always grow back. If you dye it and hate it, cut it all off and regret it, and just about everything else in between, it’s all temporary. If you’re looking to make a change in your life, I’ve come to realize there’s a reason people going through a break up always start with drastically changing their hair — it’s a fresh start, but also not a permanent one.

My hair the day I dyed it back to brown, March 2019

While I loved being blonde, I also love my brown hair now. It really did feel like a fresh start, and I really loved seeing the reactions it got (particularly from my friends who had never known me with my natural hair, many of whom assumed I was a natural blonde at first). Upon dyeing it back, I immediately noticed a difference in how healthy and shiny it was. I still upkeep my fairly high maintenance hair routine, as most of my hair is still bleached underneath the brown dye, but overall it’s already a lot less overwhelming to take care of now. Plus, a huge bonus of dyeing it brown on top of the bleach is that my hair has slowly changed to a lighter shade in the months since I dyed it, keeping it fun and interesting. I love changing my hair, and it’s absolutely something I’ll keep doing. That’s the best part about hair, it’s all temporary! You can always change your mind. Even I don’t know what I’ll do with it next, but I know that the change will come at some point.

Some last few tips I have: hair should be an investment. It is such a large factor in how you present overall, and is 100% worth splurging on. If you can afford it, get your hair done at a hairdresser. At-home bleaching can work just fine if you know what you’re doing, but if you don’t and have the money to spend getting a professional to handle it, is it worth the risk? Also, and this may be my personal opinion, but hair care products are one of the few things where the cheaper options are often significantly less better than the expensive ones. Cheap clothes, with the right eye, can be paired for an expensive look. The right drugstore makeup will often be praised over high-end brands. There are cheap and DIY skin care options that work wonders with the right formula for your skin. But I really do find that with hair, you’re better off splurging a little. If you’re going to go blonde, purple or colour-treated shampoo is basically a must-have to keep from constant bleaching and upkeep. Hair masks are a good investment to help keep your hair healthy, and I would also suggest an oil or some related product to keep your hair nice and moisturized. I never struggled with dry hair until I bleached it out, but depending on the amount of bleaching it can really end up taking a toll on your strands. Furthermore, be ready for it to take a few tries if you have darker hair, as it can be so damaging to go all the way blonde at once. But all that being said, if you’re thinking about it, go for it! It really is fun to try switching things up, and while I love my natural hair, being blonde really was fun (but more fun than brunettes? Not so sure about that one).

My current hair, May 2019

Of course if you want any more advice, have any advice to give or just want to chat about it at all if you’re considering a switch feel free to hit me up!

Love,

Meredith

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