Blonde Ambition

By Kim Taylor

I believe I speak for just about everyone when I say that we are all ready to feel the warmth of the summer sun! Even a mild winter like this one wears out its welcome eventually.

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 as 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 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; we want what we want and change our minds regularly. As stylists, we adapt and do our best to meet the challenge.

One of the most powerful tools we have for these occasions is Olaplex. This additive is a product that every type of color client but particularly blondes can benefit from.

Hair bonds are broken during thermal, mechanical and chemical services. This is a fact. The more chemically processed the hair becomes, the more susceptible it becomes to every other type of damage. Olaplex is added to bleach or color when mixing and works by finding single sulfur hydrogen bonds and cross linking them back together to form disulfide bonds. This amazing product 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-two years of hair styling I have never seen a repairing product of this caliber. Olaplex can also be used in the salon as a restructuring treatment and has a take home product that helps 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 Katy Perry, Michelle Williams, and Jennifer Lawrence) could not be achieved without bleach. Most likely they have a combination of bleach, high lift color, and darker blonde in their hair to create the lightness and dimension that we are all so drawn to.

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 in a consistent manner) 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 mixed with 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 two to twenty minutes. Toners wash out over time so depending on how often you shampoo your hair, you may be a candidate for toning in between highlight appointments.

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 toning shampoos and conditioners on the market designed to be used as needed at home. They are usually purple and are great for blondes who evolve to more brassy/ golden tones between appointments. This happens a lot to swimmers, people with well water, and those who spend a lot of time outdoors. At Essence, our favorite is Surface Pure Blonde Violet Shampoo and Conditioner.

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 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 is done at the shampoo bowl, right after the highlights are rinsed. Base bumps can also be done in between highlight appointments to keep color looking fresh.

Good Color Takes Time

While many color services take about 2 hours, drastic changes cannot always happen that quickly. Sometimes, (and especially with blondes) it takes a much longer appointment, or several appointments to achieve the desired result.

If you have dark hair naturally, or if you have colored your hair dark and want to be light, you may be looking at several appointments to get your hair to its optimal color.

It should also be noted that blondes require regular salon appointments every 4-7 weeks to keep them looking their very best. You may not need “the works” every time, but rest assured, your blonde will need a little something to keep it fresh, on tone, vibrant, and looking healthy.

Protect Your Investment

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 your hair between appointments. There is no shortage of products on the market that claim to protect and feed the hair. We recommend a selection of tried and true products that we carry in the salon: Olaplex, Surface, Moroccan oil, and Kevin Murphy to name a few.


When it comes to pricing color services, a consultation is necessary. Our basic color services start at $80. Dimensional techniques such as highlights and balayage increases in price according to technique and time required as well as how much product is used. At Essence, consultations are always complimentary and never obligatory. Our staff is happy to hear your vision, make recommendations, address concerns, and quote you a price based on a recommended path of action. We love what we do and look forward to making you beautiful!