“Such a dramatic change ended up being a disaster.”
I’ve always had very dark hair, my brunette is so rich it’s almost black, in fact. There’s never been much I could do with it. As a teen, I’d see friends with sun-bleached hair and I’d be so jealous. I was so keen to experiment with highlights and going lighter in general, but the few times I DID try it, my hair just went a really unflattering orange/brassy shade. I’d ask hairdressers to make it lighter to get away from that brassiness, and they’d just tell me it would damage my hair too much with all the bleaching involved.
When I heard about Olaplex, and how it allowed you to lighten your hair without the damage element, I was keen to finally do something to my boring, dark brown hair I’d had my whole life. I wanted to go pastel pink. And the first thing you need to know, if you didn’t already, is that to go pastel from brunette and have it be full pastel, is you need to go blonde first. I did my research, learnt about how Olaplex worked and all of that. But it wasn’t until I saw someone with the same deep brunette as me – Kim Kardashian – go to platinum with the treatment that I felt game to try it.
I had three top colourists do my hair. This wasn’t a job done by anyone inexperienced! They had to do two complete scalp bleaches in one day, and then a third the following day. News flash: going blonde is not a one step thing – it takes WORK, a lot of time in the hairdressers chair, and endless patience. But it was worth it, at least at first – the Olaplex did work, my hair felt in GREAT condition. It was shiny, thick, healthy and felt great. And it was SO PINK! I was so happy!
And then, a month later, two things happened. First – I learnt Kim Kardashian had totally lied. She hadn’t bleached her hair. She had only bleached the hairline – the rest was a wig, and once she got over the platinum thing, went straight back to her brunette with no damage at all. And second – my hair quality started to wane. It started to get really dry, and felt like it had lost its weight. The brittleness could best be described as like cotton wool.
After three months I had the rudest shock of my life. News flash – pastel pink is ridiculously hard to maintain, one wash and the colour is nearly gone so you have to constantly top it up. So I let it fade out to blonde. I was travelling in New York when chunks of hair literally began snapping off around my face. I was mortified! My hair had started to turn into an unintentional mullet instead of a lob. It was terrible – I started to cry! I made an emergency trip to a hairdresser, and the only solution was to cut it really short to try and even out the lengths.
When I got back to Sydney, my hairdresser stressed it would be best for me to go back to brown, to try and improve the condition of my hair. But it didn’t work – over the next few months, more and more chunks were snapping off, until eventually everything that had once been bleached had entirely snapped away. I literally had a two inch fringe – AROUND MY ENTIRE HEAD. It was fried!! The only way I looked OK was to have a head full of tape-in extensions at all times, to get even length and hide the mullet. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen me with a new fringe in February – that CUT ITSELF. It was literally just snapped off hair, so my hairdresser just tidied it up a bit to make it look intentional.
Recovery has been a long, long process. Going back to brown did improve the condition a bit, and I used treatments religiously every wash, to prevent further damage. But at the end of the day there wasn’t much I could do. You can’t “heal” damaged hair – you can only wait for healthy hair to grow back through, and protect the damaged strands with treatments and minimal heat so they don’t get any worse.
I do want to go back to Olaplex for a minute. It is, honestly, such a good product. It wasn’t the Olaplex that destroyed my hair! In fact, if I had tried the bleaching process without it I honestly think my hair would have entirely snapped off there and then, in the hairdressers chair. I used Olaplex, which is actually a hair treatment in and of itself if you use it without colour products, as my treatment to protect my hair from further damage during the recovery process, and it really does work wonders.
My hair now is mainly all mine. I only wear two clip-in extensions on either side of my face, because there are still some mullety bits there from damage. But it’s been a bloody long road. I bleached it in May 2015. It’s now November 2016, and I still have a bob! My hairdresser has to keep trimming it so it all catches up and is the same length.
Would I do it all again? Maybe. I do wonder if someone had warned me, if I would still go through it just because I was so keen to get a dramatic hair change out of my system. But I also should have appreciated my healthy, glossy hair. Subtle lightening is fine, but such a dramatic change ended up being a disaster. If you’re thinking of making a dramatic change like I did, I’m definitely not saying don’t do it. The lighter your natural hair colour is, the less chance you’ll have the kind of damage I ended up with. But naturally dark-haired girls… really think about it seriously first. Are you willing to risk 18 months of bad hair if it ends up damaged like mine did?
Bonnie Gillies is Editor and Creator of Oz Beauty Expert.
December 16, 201611:27am