Some people live for the extremes in life. They always seem to be booking adventure vacations in South America (skydiving, anyone?) and attempting to down the spiciest peppers known to man. For them, the adrenaline rush makes life worth living.
When they’re not hurtling off the side of mountains, these adventure-seekers are finding ways to indulge their whims in everyday life. Platinum hair? Black on blonde? Why not.
Hair should be about self-expression and creativity, so jumping around is encouraged. Your only limitations should be about what your hair can take. With that in mind, we reached out to Jason Backe, L'Oréal Professionnel ambassador and celebrity colorist. Backe rules the hair color world, which means dramatic hair color transitions are a nearly everyday occurrence for him.
If you’re thinking of taking your blonde strands all the way black, read over Backe’s beauty advice first. When you’re wearing silky, luscious raven lengths, you’ll thank him.
What to Expect
If you’ve ever colored your hair before, you know the process like the back of your hand. Booking an appointment or buying a box dye is the first step, closely followed by the one where you panic about your decision.
Once you’re set on a color and technique, coloring your hair is normally all downhill from there. Blonde hair, however, is a little bit of an enigma. Because it’s been lightened, the strands are extra fragile and need to be handled carefully.
Still, the good news is that darkening blonde hair most likely won’t cause any further damage to your mane, according to Backe. That’s a major win.
Still, we always recommend treating your hair nicely in the weeks leading up to a big change. That means minimal heat styling, regular masks, and sleeping with your strands in a bun or braid. The more you take care of your blonde hair, the better it will look dyed black.
How to Choose a Colorist
You may think booking an appointment is the easiest part of the dye process, but Backe is only too happy to prove you wrong. In fact, a great deal of your final shade rests on your colorist’s shoulders.
“Dramatic change requires a lot of brain work,” Backe says. “A good colorist can rely on solid formulation and a thorough understanding of color theory. A little formulation mistake can have a horrible outcome.”
Why spend all that money on dull, streaky color? It’s so much easier to do your research first and achieve the inky black mane of your dreams.
To find the right colorist for you, turn to social media. You’re hunting for a professional who has plenty of experience with blonde-to-black hair transitions, or one well-versed in the art of dramatic color transitions.
“Find a colorist with a strong social media account that shows a wide variety of transformations,” Backe says. The more images that show off his or her skill, the better.
As a rule of thumb, you should also look for at least two or three snapshots that look just like your dream hair on his or her social media page before committing to an appointment.
The Process of Going from Blonde to Black
Wondering what the journey from blonde to black looks like? Worry no more.
Once you’re settled into your chair, expect the first step of your salon session to be a single process color to create a new color for your colorist to work with. Think of it like this: Bleaching hair blonde strips it of yellow, red, and orange notes. You may not want that brassiness in your honey strands, but an inky black requires it.
If your stylist doesn’t take the time to “fill” your hair color with these missing shades, that’s a major red flag. Beautiful hair colors begin with well-executed base colors.
“Without the proper steps, you will end up with a gray, drab, or muddy end result,” Backe warns.
After your base shade has been established, expect your colorist to jump into action with your new hair color. When you include washing, drying, and perfecting your new shade, the salon appointment should last between three and four hours, according to Backe.
Still, a few hours are nothing compared to multiple follow-up visits.
“[Clients] can probably achieve a beautiful, dark shade in one visit,” Backe says.
The At-Home Routine
The ultimate rule of thumb for dyed hair is that most the work takes place at home. If you’ve dropped hundreds of dollars on a new shade, it’s crucial to protect your new ‘do with products formulated to help maintain color integrity.
“When you go from light to dark it can fade quickly, so regular maintenance is important,” Backe says.
With that in mind, invest in a haircare system (a shampoo, conditioner, and mask formulated to work in sync) that’s salon quality. Backe loves L’Oréal Professionnel’s Vitamino Color A OX line, which he says is “awesome” at keeping hair color looking straight-out-the-salon good. To find the products near you, you’ll want to call your local studio instead of heading to the nearest drugstore.
It’s not just the product you buy that’s important, but how you use it. To maintain your newly coal-like color, adjust to shampooing your hair less by using a dry shampoo for freshness between washes. When you do finally suds up, Backe recommends sticking to cool water.
Finally, you’ll want to invest in regular visits to your colorist for semi-permanent color.
“Be prepared to have a gloss every couple of weeks to keep the tone rich and the surface glossy,” Backe says.
Unlike a root touch-up, hair gloss doesn’t involve color. Instead, you’ll get a translucent gloss that makes hair feel denser and boosts the look of shine. As with your color, you’ll want to create a budget and make sure you can afford the treatment before scheduling an appointment.
Do you have an adrenaline rush just yet? So do we.