Few hues are as attention-grabbing as platinum blonde — and none are harder to maintain.
"Platinum blonde is the most high-maintenance shade of blonde you can choose, says Chrissie Gilberti, hair color director for Paris Parker Salon Group (www.parisparker.com).
"[Platinum blonde] is a lifestyle," says Alise Lavergne, color director at Glenn Michael Salon (1623 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-828-6848; www.glennmichaelsalon.com). "It takes money, and it doesn't happen overnight."
Depending on your hair's natural color and whether it has been colored before, the multi-step process can take anywhere from a few hours to a year to complete. For natural blondes or light brunettes, the process is less invasive. People whose hair is dyed a dark, artificial hue have to remove old color first, a process that might take months. People with dark brown or black hair may sacrifice some length, because processed hair is more fragile.
"Anyone can be platinum," Lavergne says. "Some people are going to get there faster than others."
Hair has three color molecules, Gilberti says: green, red and yellow. Going platinum blonde consists of lifting blue and red color molecules from the hair using bleach, which "chews up cuticle ... like a little Pac-Man," says Glenn Michael, owner of Glenn Michael Salon. Balancing the remaining yellow color molecule with a violet or blue toner gives hair its platinum appearance.
Going platinum damages hair and strips its oils, so colorists recommend gentle, nourishing products and low pH shampoos: Gilberti recommends Aveda's Damage Remedy line, and Lavergne suggests the Wella Luxe Oil line. If hair becomes brassy, a shampoo that deposits blue pigment, such as Aveda's Blue Malva, will cancel out warm tones.
"If your hair feels dry, grab the moisture product," Gilberti says. "If it's brassy, use the blue product. If it feels damaged and fragile, use a damage product. You basically have to feed your hair what it needs."
Platinum blonde hair also requires TLC. Cut back on blow-drying, lower your flat iron's heat to 355 degrees, and use thermal sealant when heat styling. Hair will be a little drier, so shampooing can be less frequent.
"I suggest a dry shampoo and not washing every day so the hair doesn't dry itself out," Laverge says.
Maintenance is essential. Naturally dark hair can show roots as soon as two to three weeks after going blonde.
"Being platinum is a commitment," GIlberti says. "Is it fun? Absolutely. I think everyone should try it. But you have to invest the time and money to do it right."