A Bit about Blonde

By Kim Taylor, owner and stylist at Essence

I believe I speak for just about everyone when I say that we are all ready to feel the warmth of the summer sun! Winter took her sweet time wrapping up and spring barely even popped in on us. Alas, we are headed for warmer days, and I am ecstatic!

Summer in Evergreen always delivers; long, warm, sun-filled days and comfortably cool star-filled nights. Who could ask for more?

The lightheartedness of summer takes its effect in many ways. In the salon, requests for lighter hair increase drastically when the weather shifts; making this a perfect time to address some of the questions we hear most frequently when discussing going blonde.


One of the most important things I want to address is compromised hair. This is hair that has been over processed; whether it is controlled over processing to get to the desired lightness or hair that has been taken from dark to light and back again several times. Neither scenario is unusual; people want what they want and change their minds regularly. As stylists, we adapt and do our best to meet the challenge. In walks Olaplex, a product that every type of color client can benefit from, but particularly blondes. Hair bonds are broken during thermal, mechanical and chemical services. The more chemically processed hair becomes, the more susceptible it is to every other type of damage. Olaplex is a product that is added to bleach or color when mixing. It reconnects broken disulfide sulfur bonds in the hair during processing. This is an amazing product that has allowed stylists to push further in terms of lightening the hair, but it has also provided us with a powerful tool for color correction and rebuilding hair that is in the most desperate condition.

In twenty years of hair styling, I have never seen a reparative product of this caliber. It can also be used in the salon as a restructuring treatment as well as a take home product that helps to ensure the longevity of the service between appointments. If you want to know more about Olaplex ask your stylist, it is worth its weight in gold.

Color vs. Bleach

This is a debate I hear a lot in the salon. Clients are concerned that their hair will be more damaged by bleach than by high lift color. First things first- lighter blondes (think Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston) could not be achieved without bleach. Most likely they have a combination of bleach, high lift color, and darker blonde in their hair.

The fundamental difference between bleach and color is that bleach lifts pigment (natural AND artificial hair color) out of the hair but it does not add anything back in. Color is designed to lift natural pigment (color cannot break through artificial color) from the hair while simultaneously depositing artificial color into the hair. A common misconception is that high lift color isn’t as powerful as bleach and therefore must not be as damaging as bleach. The simple truth is that bleach’s strength is determined by the volume of developer used, while high lift blonde colors can only lift as much as they do because they are loaded with extra ammonia and a higher volume of peroxide. This is not to say that high lift blondes are worse than bleach. They are different animals, but they are comparable in terms of chemical and strength. The bottom line here is that your stylist’s intention is to please you. A good stylist will choose the least damaging path to the desired result.

To Tone or Not to Tone

A toner’s job is to add tonal value to bleached hair (highlights or full head). Remember, bleach lifts color out of the hair, without adding anything back in. A toner can take a bleached blonde from raw to refined in twenty minutes or less. Not all bleach blondes require a toner; often times bleached hair looks beautiful in its raw form. This is highly dependent on where the bleaching process starts, for example how dark the beginning color is, how damaged the hair is, etc.

There are also shampoos and conditioners on the market designed to be used as weekly toners at home. They are usually purple or blue and are great for blondes who tend to evolve to more brassy/ golden tones between appointments. This happens a lot to swimmers and people who have well water. At Essence, we use and recommend a really nice purple shampoo called “Violights” by Framesi.

Base Bump

Base bumping is a quick color process that lightens the base color around the hairline and in the crown area just enough to subdue the harsh difference between the natural hair color and the lightness of the highlights. It is great for clients who like their hair to be very blonde and heavily highlighted but do not want to take the next step into being a solid blonde. It takes the edge off of their base color which gives an overall softer, lighter appearance.

Base bumping can be done on the same day as a highlight service, right after the highlights are rinsed. Base bumps can also be done in between highlight appointments to keep color looking fresh.

Maintain and Protect

Finally, blonde hair requires maintenance and upkeep. Most blondes need to be maintained every 5-8 weeks depending on how light the hair is and how fast it grows. In addition to regular salon visits, blonde hair needs to be cared for at home. Gentle shampoos, hydrating conditioners, and repairing masks are a good place to start. Additionally, thermal protectants, argan or bassu oil, and protein spray will go a long way in protecting the integrity of the hair between appointments. There is no shortage of products on the market that claim to protect and feed the hair. We are a bit picky and recommend a selection of tried and true products by Olaplex, Surface, Moroccan oil, and Kevin Murphy. At Essence consultations are always complimentary, and our staff is happy to help you decide which product is right for your hair.