As a one-time towhead, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to get back to the elusive hair color of my youth. Pale, soft, not brassy, not ashy — a shade my colorist calls baby blonde. Unlike little kids’ effortlessly sun-kissed strands, the imitation version takes work. From $10-bottle blonde to can’t-admit-the-cost salon color, I’ve tried every shade — and every regimen — out there. Through years of trial and error (emphasis on error), I’ve amassed a stockpile of products to tone, hydrate, and protect my fake blonde, keeping it as real as chemically possible.
The Pretreatment Oil
I’ve recently experimented with treating my hair before I wash it à la Parisian colorist Christophe Robin, and found that dousing my ends in argan oil and brushing it through keeps it from getting too shampoo-stripped. I respectfully disagree that this step can replace actual conditioning, but it’s a nice pre-shower ritual.
The Hard-core Toning Shampoo
You can spend a lot of money on a purple shampoo that smells nice, or not a lot of money on one that smells like an old lady. Clairol Shimmer Lights may stink, but it knocks the yellow right out of your blonde. The no-nonsense salon shampoo is so high-octane, your platinum will veer into purple if you overdo it — a once-a-week routine is enough to keep cooler blonde tones fresh and bright. I recommend skipping the companion conditioner in favor of a better-fragranced finish.
The Splurgy Shampoo and Conditioner
If you’re ready to upgrade your purple shampoo and conditioner, Drybar’s Blonde Ale duo is the way to go. The products smell like a fancy tea, and the conditioner actually conditions enough that you don’t have to pile on serums and oils after the fact. The toning effect isn’t as drastic (it’s billed as “brightening”), so you can use it a little more often.
The No-Breakage Brush
Stylists will tell you that brushing wet hair is damaging, but I will tell you that it’s unavoidable. The Wet Brush keeps fragile bleached hair from breaking, magically gliding through even the gnarliest tangles like the “after” part of an infomercial.
The Post-Shower Toner
Using this toning spray reminds me of the old lemon-in-the-hair trick, except it actually works. Apparently, the apple-cider vinegar lifts out minerals that make hair brassy, uncovering the shade your colorist meant you to have. The light mist is also slightly conditioning — good for calming hair down in humid weather.
The Fried-Ends Fighter
When you lighten your hair consistently, crispy ends are basically an inevitability. Of the approximately 17 billion products that claim to smooth dry hair, this is the only one I’ve tried that actually delivers. It’s light and nongreasy, but not so light that hair just sucks it up. A little goes a long way, semi-justifying the price tag.
The Bonus Beach Spray
Full disclosure — I can’t swear that this product actually does anything, but it smells amazing and feels very Saint-Tropez to spritz at the beach. I like to believe that it protects my color from the sun, and it definitely maximizes the beachiness of my hair.
Other Products That Other Blondes Swear By
Writer Bryanna Cappadona told us that after she went platinum, this potion from Drybar “instantly — as in, with just one blowout — made my processed, hay-like hair silky, shiny, and non-crunchy. I felt like I underwent a great metamorphosis. I was the revamped Anne Hathaway with the ultimate hair awakening.”
Amber Rose, a few months back, told us about the two products she uses to bleach her hair. Quick Blue bleach, which she says, “works really fast. I’ve been using that for years. I found that other bleaches would turn my hair kind of orange; but with this one, the blue takes all the orange out, and doesn’t turn it brassy.” An a L’Oréal creme developer, which she uses every four days: “My hair is so short, and my roots come in really fast. But I don’t have to leave it on superlong: 20 minutes, and that’s it. If you have longer hair, you should probably go to a professional. I don’t really have much hair, so it works perfectly for me.”
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