From blah to blonde: My summer hair colour makeover story

I’ve always been a brunette. Well, sort of, if you forget about the time my 14-year-old self managed to get her hands on a box of magenta hair dye. On the advice of my mother, who so delicately warned me that “you can’t possibly leave the house looking like that,” I fessed up to my hair stylist, and submitted to a generous spattering of chocolate brown dye.

 At some point between now and my magenta mishap, I began to tire of my brunette tresses. Although I longed to go lighter, I silenced my inner blonde bombshell for fear of looking ridiculous, and justified – time and time again – leaving my hair the way it was: brown, basic, and a little bit boring. But, as the weather warmed up and I got into the groove of my new position here at Canadian Living, I decided to take the plunge, head first, into the world of pigment and peroxide.

Before photo

 The before photo.

After learning the ins-and-outs of hair colour psychology with Dove’s Colour Expert Kate Smith, I took a spin in the chair of Cody Alain, Hair Colour Expert for and Dove Colour Care.

It took some serious gusto and a whole lot of bleach, but after a lifetime of brunette tresses, I finally made the switch to the light side.

Hair colour psychology… Say what?!

“Intuition [about hair colour] just doesn’t lead us in the wrong direction.” – Kate Smith, Colour Expert for Dove

As a recent university graduate, I sought out a colour that would vibe with my personality and professional goals. Although I had no interest in reviving my magenta roots, I was happy to learn from Kate that “all women can try any hair colour, as there is a tone in every shade that can fit each woman’s personality.” I must say  – convinced my entire life that blonde would never work on my skin tone, I took Kate’s advice in stride.

I was still wary. Would blonde be a bad choice? “No,” Kate assured me. “I think it’s unlikely that a woman would opt for a colour that doesn’t feel right to her. When choosing a new colour, there is something that is pulling the person at a deep emotional level, and intuition just doesn’t lead us in the wrong direction.”

And with that I knew: blonde was the colour of choice. I headed down to the urban chic studio of Cody Alain, Dove’s celebrity stylist, to get primped and pampered for a sun-kissed summer ‘do.

Choosing the colour with Cody Alain

My consultation with Cody began at 10 a.m. sharp. “I want ash blonde,” I told him, and showed him a picture on my phone. “No,” he said, “if your hair gets too ashy, you’re going to look a little dead.”

Instead, Cody suggested a neutral blond tone, which he promised would strike the perfect balance between ash and gold and allow me to play around with every shade of makeup and clothing. And, just like that, I was sold on bottle blond.

Colour Consult

Chatting with Hair Colour Expert Cody Alain.

Taking the peroxide plunge

Getting my hair to lighten was a bit of a task, as I had two layers of dark, semi-permanent dye in my hair to begin with. Cody weaved a “lightening agent” (a.k.a. bleach) through my hair and carefully wrapped half-inch sections of my hair in foil. Forty-five minutes later, Cody removed the foils as I sat transfixed and waited for the big reveal.

BAM. My hair was way blonder than I had imagined. Thoughts of “oh-my-god-what-did-I-do-this-was-a-horrible-idea-how-much-will-it-cost-to-fix-this” ran through my head. Cody took one look at my expression, and let me in on a little secret: “Don’t worry! I know it’s light, but I haven’t put any toner in your hair yet. Toner is essential – it softens and blends the entire look. You’ll see.”

Right, toner. Cody painted my mane with an ashy toner to “neutralize the natural warmth” in my hair and “introduce a cooler tone.” After letting the toner do its thing for 10-or-so minutes, Cody lathered my tresses with Dove’s Colour Care Shampoo and moisturized my mane with the line’s luxurious Conditioner.

Getting my hair coloured by Cody Alain

Cody working his hair colour magic. // Feeling like a bionic Farah Fawcett. // Waiting for good things to happen.
(Click here to enlarge the image) 

Debuting the new blonde ‘do

After a quick towel dry, Cody distributed Dove’s Colour Care Leave-In Conditioner through my ends, because, Cody told me, “the tips of your hair are lighter and they need more love.” One masterful blowout later, and my hair was buxom blonde perfection. I “oohed” and “awed” as I mussed with my hair in the mirror for at least twenty minutes.

Let’s be honest: if you were me, you’d do the same.

Next, head over here to see how I’m maintaining my pricey summer dye job. Armed with these tips, tricks and great product recos, you’ll look salon fresh all summer long.

The perfect neutral blonde.

The perfect neutral blonde.
(Click here to enlarge image)

Let us know your own hair colour tips and tricks by sharing with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Also, we want to know: Are you planning on going light for the summer?

All photos by Michelle Ramalho