I started getting highlights at the age of 11, which to some of you, may seem pretty young. My mum was getting married and I wanted to look a little more ‘grown up’ having taken on the role of bridesmaid. I’d always had mousey brown hair and so a few blonde streaks jazzed up the look as much as I’d hoped. From then on, I continued highlighting my hair – in the beginning, only once a year as a treat, but further down the line – it was every couple of months.
As anyone who has bleached their hair will know, it’s not great for the condition and teamed with the discovery of ghd’s aged 14, eventually all the heat and chemical damage took its toll. So, I decided on a whim to dye my hair dark brown. Envisioning myself looking like Selena Gomez (then, on Disney Channel) or even Eva Longoria on Desperate Housewives, the actual result was far less glamorous. It didn’t suit my colourings and I looked washed out and a bit swamped by hair.
So, I went back to blonde and started the whole process again. Fast forward seven years and I’ve FINALLY managed to get my hair to a condition and colour I’m happy with. I’ve experimented with hair extensions, different bleaches, different hairdressers, not cutting my hair for six years, the Brazilian Blow dry, going on a straighteners ban and trying different growth ‘potions’. I’d like to think that I’ve tried and tested pretty much EVERY treatment going on the market and so £100’s later, I thought I’d collate all my findings into one mammoth post. I know it’s not just me who has the ultimate dream of achieving long, healthy blonde hair – and so hopefully, my trial and errors can help someone else!
How I got from L-R:
- No more straighteners. Well, only on special occasions. If you have naturally straight hair anyway (or naturally curly, if you prefer it curly) then you’re in luck, as this minimises unnecessary heat treatment, however if your hair (like mine) prefers to do its own thing – something you aren’t keen on, then you’ll need another way of managing it. My hair is naturally very frizzy and wavy and I tend to wear it straight. To achieve this, I use the ghd air hairdryer (which keeps it at a non-damaging temperature) and the John Frieda Frizz Ease Semi-Permanent 3 Day Straight Spray. I spritz in some heat treatment and the 3-day spray and rough dry it with a Tangle Teezer. I then use this Paddle Brush to smooth it and go over the ends to create a sleeker look. To finish, I blast it with the cold setting (it seems to tame any frizz and calm it down).
- 3 times a year. The above picture on the right is 4 months re-growth, so as you can see – my roots aren’t particularly dark or noticeable however it’s due a full head of highlights any day now. Whereas I used to get highlights topped up every 8-12 weeks, I now wait far longer between each trip to the hairdressers – which saves on money and damage. I have two different coloured highlights put through my hair to ensure that the re-growth is as natural as possible – a bleach blonde and a honey blonde. It also creates a more natural tone which I really like.
- Olaplex. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of products on the beauty market which claim to improve the condition of your hair – there’s only one real treatment available out there that is proven to work. It’s a relatively new thing to hit the hair world, however if you’re a blonde – it’s something worth looking into. I recently had the Olaplex treatment at Colour Nation in London (full review below) and two months on, my hair is in the best condition it has ever been.
- Regular trims. If you’d told me that I’d be giving advice to get hair cuts a year ago, I would have laughed. I was so ANTI hair-cuts that I avoided one entirely for six years. Yep, six whole years. Although I achieved some growth (which was my main aim), the overall quality of my hair was awful (even if I had occasionally trimmed it myself at home) and it looked thin and flat. I eventually let my hairdresser trim it in July last year and had over three inches off, which absolutely terrified me. The odd thing however, was that it looked longer than before. Plus, I was dreaming about blunt ends for months prior – and it was amazing to finally have healthy looking hair. I’d say getting a trim every other highlight is quite a good balance, but of course – it’s completely up to you. If your hair growth is slow, give it time to get longer before trimming.
- Switch up your Shampoos. Well, and Conditioners. I find my hair gets used to certain ones I’m using and as a result, no longer maintains the effects it first gave. I have four sets of shampoos and conditioners that I alternate and switch between (one per week of the month) and this tends to keep things as balanced as possible. My favourites include the KMS California range (which is expensive but amazing, perfect for a night out or special occasion), Aussie (perfect for every day as it’s so affordable) and Philip Kingsley if you suffer from a very dry scalp.
- Don’t wash everyday. Well, not your hair anyway. Although I have the greasiest of hair types (with dry ends – fab combination), which even Dry Shampoo doesn’t seem to sort out – I have to resist washing it everyday, because it drys it out even more and wrecks havoc with the condition. I spent a good few months at the beginning of the year sticking to this mantra (a wash every three days) and eventually, it got less and less greasy and I was able to get away with longer. It’s a tricky one but if you can stick with it, it definitely helps.
Olaplex @ Colour Nation
I was going to put together a separate review for my experience with Olaplex, however I feel it fits in very nicely with this article as a whole and is probably more helpful to you here. Advertised as an ‘insurance’ for hairdressers using bleach, it works on the inside of the hair follicles to repair breakage and restore the original condition. Whereas most hair masques contain keratin and mend the aesthetics, creating a smoother, sleeker look on the outside, Olaplex works on the inside – meaning that it can be a little tricky to actually see the results straight away. Rather it’s about feeling the results week after week. Well, in my case – that was true anyway.
I visited the Colour Nation salon on the day of my Joe Browns Christmas Blogger shoot (post here), which was scheduled for 11am, so they kindly opened an hour early on my behalf. Seated in the comfiest of massage chairs EVER (they usually annoy me but this one was actually like having someone working on my back for the duration, fabulous!), the first stage of the treatment was applied and left for half an hour. I was a initially a little worried that it was going to irritate my scalp, since it’s very sensitive and tends to react to every tiny thing – however, luckily – I was absolutely fine!
The second stage was another solution that was applied to my hair and left for a further ten minutes. Again, I relaxed and let the chemicals get to work – imagining tiny little fairies mending all the split ends! Eventually, it was time to ‘see’ the final results, as my hair was blow-dried to perfection and finished off. I was assured once again that the results wouldn’t exactly be aesthetic – and actually, it was true. Apart from exiting the salon with bouncier, sleeker locks than I entered – my hair didn’t ‘look’ any different. Of course, I was very happy with my hair (a couple of pictures from the photo shoot are attached above) however in terms of having had a treatment, there was nothing visibly different.
In the coming weeks however, tiny little details surfaced. My hair was no longer tangly after showering, my hairbrush didn’t have to work as hard to get knots out and blow-drying created softer, sleeker results without having to try very hard. My hair felt like ‘virgin’ hair once again, no longer plagued by dryness. Generally, it just feels a thousand times healthier.
Several months on and my hair has grown more than it has in years. I’m not sure whether this is related to the Olaplex – but perhaps I’ve noticed an increase in length due to a decrease in breakage. Most people tend to have the Olaplex as an accompaniment to their highlights, as often immediately afterwards, you start to see dryness. I guess it totally depends on whether your hairdresser offers Olaplex as a treatment – however if you’re local to London, I’d give Colour Nation a try as they know what they’re doing with it!
So there we have it, a rather mammoth post about all things hair! If you’re still with me at this point of my waffling, then you deserve a medal – but hopefully it’s helped in some way and if you have any questions at all, then please feel free to get in touch. Similarly, if you have any tips for me about maintaining blonde hair – I’d love to know!