If there is one sacred rule that Every Important Hair Colour Expert will tell you, it's that under no circumstances should you EVER bleach your hair at home—because it is a Very Risky thing to do and must always be done (expensively) in a salon.
For the most part, I don’t disagree with that.
But me being me, I decided to do it anyway (‘cos I’m impulsive like that). This will surprise nobody who has read about my previous hair colour adventures, including my recent journey from mid-brunette to the warm blonde in the pic up top, on the left. So you know that I’m a complete advocate of home hair colouring and I’ve been doing it for more years than I’m proud of.
Nevertheless, bleaching IS a whole other ball game...
The Difference Between Bleaching and Dyeing
The fundamental, most basic difference between bleaching and dyeing hair is this:
To dye hair is to cover the existing colour with a darker shade, but to bleach hair is to literally strip away all of the pigmentation.
While this is only a simple description, what it effectively means is that dyeing your hair is reversible, but bleaching your hair is not. And I think this is what really scares people the most about bleach—the permanence of it!
Why I Wanted to Go Platinum
I’ve been thinking about going platinum for a long time because it signifies a transformation in more ways than one. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m about to make a huge change by moving to London and attending fashion school, and I felt that reinvention was necessary.
I was discussing this with a fellow blonderexic friend, and we both agreed: being platinum blonde is like being a better version of yourself. It has this weird effect on your confidence, but also on how other people see you.
As my new favourite hair person, celebrity colourist (and splashlights inventor) Aura Friedman told Elle.com, “It's especially striking when you take somebody who's not meant to be blonde at all and make them white blonde. You get a different kind of attention from the platinum hair, and it becomes an addictive thing.”
My Platinum Blonde Inspirations
After stumbling across Emily Weiss’ brilliant piece, "My Double Process," on Into The Gloss, I realized I wanted the properly bleached, not-a-trace-of-brassiness silver hair that suggests a unaffected, cool fashion insider (i.e. Weiss herself!)
For me it was, as she says, “the nail in the coffin of impetus," so I immediately consulted Michelle (because who else?). She wasn’t convinced, but when I showed her this picture of Emily, it was all but decided!
Just take a moment to fully appreciate this hair, because it is one-of-a-kind magical.
My other inspirations were Oscar PR Girl Erika Bearman’s platinum transformation (documented by Vogue.com):
And America’s Next Top Model contestant Chris Hernandez:
Both have since returned to brunette, which I fear is an inevitability when going platinum—at some point you just get tired of the upkeep.
Here’s some more platinum inspiration. Actress Debby Ryan:
And these models:
How I Went Platinum Blonde at Home
NOTE: I can’t stress enough that this is NOT a tutorial. Unlike most other hair colour processes, this is not something I think everyone should do by themselves. There's so much more that can go wrong with bleaching at home, so although I’ll loosely detail what I did, it won’t be a how-to as such, because I’m not necessarily recommending you do this—or that it’ll turn out well! This is just my personal experience and what I have learned from being bleached.
Like Emily Weiss, I wanted to be "as blonde as chemically possible," so I turned to the best of the best: Bleach London. The salon’s recently-launched home range includes a Total Bleach kit and a White Toner, which I picked up for the initial blonding.
I also grabbed their purple-pigmented Silver Shampoo to keep brassiness at bay (very important when going platinum).
These are available at Boots in the UK, and are a little pricier than normal dyes (£7 each for the bleach and toner and £5 for the shampoo). The packaging is really funky as well; they’ve definitely managed to embody the brand’s style in their products.
The application was fairly easy. I simply applied the bleach all over my hair, starting with the roots (as they were darkest), covered it in cellophane and let it process for 45 minutes.
I have to say, I was mega-impressed with the Bleach London bleach. Because normal bleach is blue, it can be hard to tell how far the hair has processed. This one is white, so the colour you see it turning is a lot truer to the colour it will end up. When I washed it out, my hair felt super-soft—so soft, in fact, that for a minute I was worried it had over-processed and jellified (it can happen, seriously).
An added bonus is that there's a conditioner in the kit (also available to buy separately), aptly named the Reincarnation Mask. I’m not exaggerating when I say that if there was a mass conditioner extinction, leaving only the Reincarnation Mask surviving, it would probably make everyone's hair a LOT better. It is that good.
Unfortunately, I wasn't so impressed with the White Toner. It turned all the yellow parts distinctly green, which was quite horrifying, and the white parts went silvery grey, which wasn’t atrocious but not what I wanted from a WHITE toner. Luckily, this effect faded to a nice silvery white, but I wouldn’t buy it again.
The Silver Shampoo is far superior! Mixed with some of the Reincarnation Mask and left for 15 to 30 minutes, I found I had a highly effective and very nourishing toner that turned my hair a perfect snowy white, almost transparent. (That said, I love to change up the tone, so I’ll often go full-out silver, or even leave it to develop a slightly yellow tinge—gasp!—when I’m feeling low-maintenance.)
Here's the final result:
Should You Try Platinum Blonde?
It's fun, it's young and it's fashionable! But know that it's also a high-maintenance colour and probably not one you'll want to keep forever.
For anyone with hair longer than shoulder-length, platinum blonde could majorly compromise the hair's condition. It does look incredibly beautiful when it's long and well-groomed (see Devin and Debby, above), but that requires a major investment of time and money that most of us just don’t have. If you're not willing to do that (or sacrifice the length), then step away from the bleach because platinum just isn’t for you.
Luckily it looks just as great short, a la Emily Weiss. With my hair, it gets cut off before I need to worry about any extreme damage, and I personally love the bleached hair texture. It's thicker and more pliable—it stays in place better!
At some point, I know I’ll want to leave the platinum behind—because it's always been my nature to chop and change my colour—but for now I’m just going to keep on riding this icy wave. Even if you opt for the sensible route and head to the salon, consider being a bit more adventurous with your blonde this summer! You might just surprise yourself.
Are you thinking about going platinum?
Have you ever been a white-hot blonde?
Which celeb has your ultimate shade of platinum?