If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know my hair has been through lots of changes. If you haven’t, don’t worry…I’m going to bring y’all down memory lane to see how I got my hair to the beachy blonde color it is now! To preface this post, I am not an expert colorist and just want to share my personal experience with highlighting and coloring hair. I’ve done it all, from highlights to bleach to balayage, which means I have lots of do’s and don’ts for you babes. Keep scrollin’ for my tips on highlighting blonde hair [ and a few throwback photos from high school and college featuring some crazy hair…yikes! ].
These photos are from last week after Payton + I got balayage and baby lights from the master of blonde, Redken stylist Spencer Henry. If y’all want to know all of the details from natural red/brown to highlighted beachy blonde, keep scrollin’.
HAIR COLOR HISTORY
Naturally, my hair color is a light brown + red [ ish ] color that gets streaks of blonde in the summer sun. Before I started coloring my hair, it was super long and healthy, but I wasn’t happy with the color. Living in Chicago in the winter made my hair so dark and I didn’t like that. Plus, my favorite movie was [ and still is ] Blue Crush, and I wanted surfer girl blonde just like Kate Bosworth.
A LITTLE BIT OF HIGHLIGHTING
Summer after my senior year of college, I started to lightly highlight my hair. After years of begging and lots of “no, you have such beautiful Irish hair!” from my parents, my mom took me to her colorist for a few highlights. My mom is and has always been super naturally blonde, so my goal was to have hair like hers, but she made sure the colorist went easy on me. I stuck with a few highlights for about two years, plus lots of Sun-In and lemon juice in my hair while laying out. WARNING : Using Sun-In when you aren’t a natural blonde just turns your hair a lighter orange. See middle picture!
WAY TOO BLONDE
Okay, so…this is where things got out of control. When I went to college, I started getting more + more highlights more often, and became way too blonde. As silly as it sounds, highlighting your hair is sort of addicting [ at least for me it was ]. I was going once every five weeks, spending all of the money I should’ve been saving from my college job, and ruining my once healthy + natural hair! During college while on a trip to Florida, I had super dark roots and wanted a touchup. I went to a salon I’d never been to before [ big mistake ], and the colorist took a bottle of bleach to my roots! Since my natural hair isn’t blonde, the bleach turned my roots orange. It completely damaged my hair and took lots of follow up appointments at other salons to fix.
HOW I RESTORED MY HAIR
So this part should actually be titled “How a team of amazing colorists saved my hair from a life of bleached tackiness”, but you guys get the point. When I moved to LA and started my first job after college, I finally had the time and the money to start fixing my hair. Enter Stephen Garrison, my hair color savior.
When I first came to him, my hair was over highlighted at the roots and had color buildup on the ends. To fix this, he “color melted” my roots as close as possible to my natural hair color, and broke up the darker blonde with “baby lights” AKA reaaaally tiny highlights! If you want your stylist to check out this method, there’s a video of my hair transformation HERE.
While in NYC for fashion week this spring, Redken invited me to get more “baby lights” by Ryan Pearl, colorist to Hailey Baldwin. I was super excited because his work is amazing, but also wary of getting any type of highlights after my hair had gotten back to a natural look. Ryan did an amazing job [ obviously ] by adding brightness around my face and hair line, while keeping a softer, shadowed root to carry on the natural vibe that Stephen gave me.
Ryan’s main tips for you blondies are…
- Make sure your stylist is giving you the right shade of blonde for your skin tone.
- Placement is important! It’s not necessarily how much blonde you do, but the placement of the highlights or baby lights.
Most recently, Redken hooked me up with Spencer Henry, master of blonde color, to brighten my hair a bit for summer. Again, the panic of going too blonde came over me before the appointment. Aaaaand again, Redken and their colorists did the best job.
Spencer did a combination of baby lights and balayage, plus he kept up my “shadow roots” and toned the ends of my hair. After so much coloring over the years, my hair is susceptible to breakage, so Spencer added a pH bonder treatment [ which he does with every Redken service ].
Spencer’s main tips for blonde highlights are…
- Use super fine micro stitch highlights to avoid lines and keep things soft + sun kissed.
- Use sulfate free shampoos to avoid rinsing out your toners and keep your color fresh!
- If you are just starting to highlight your hair, and are going from a darker shade, allow yourself three to four appointments to get your color where you want it. In Spencer’s words, “If a stylist says they can get you from black to blonde in one appointment…run!”.
If all of this colorist lingo seems confusing, don’t worry! Just show this post to your colorist, or go to any one of these three stylists IG accounts for inspo photos to bring into your salon. Please leave any questions y’all have and I’ll do my best to answer!
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