How to: Pull Off Platinum-Blonde Hair
Fri, 15 February 2013 3:54PM
Back in the day, Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe made ultra-blonde the ultimate in Hollywood hair. A little later, the likes of Debbie Harry and Gwen Stefani rocked the look, giving it a cool edge. And, more recently, models such as Abbey Lee Kershaw and Daphne Groeneveld (below) have ensured that platinum hair has become a must-have accessory.
But while platinum hair does indeed look glam and cool and chic and all of that, it’s also extremely tricky to pull off.
Lucky I’m here to help! Think of this as your all-you-need-to-know super-blonde survival guide …
What is it? Platinum blonde hair is the lightest shade of blonde achievable, usually with a hint of silver making it cool in tone, yet vibrant.
The Downside: Salon upkeep can vary from anywhere from three to five weeks, depending on how fast the hair grows and how soon those pesky dark roots make an unwelcome appearance. As well as the regular visits to the salon, time in the chair can also be lengthy and often a tedious journey … Patience is a virtue here, Primpers!
The Technical Talk: The platinum process involves stripping all the pigment out of your hair. Bleach is the key ingredient used; it’s then mixed with an oxidising activator known as peroxide. The activator is what helps the bleach work its way into the hair shaft and dilute all the colour molecules. Hair lightening goes through a series of phases. Remember the three primary colours that make every other colour? As in, blue, red and yellow. Well, bleach first – and quickly – removes the blue molecules, which leaves the hair red. Next, the red molecules begin to be stripped out. This process takes a long time, and if you rinse the bleach out during this process, you’ll be left with orange hair. Not pretty. Finally, out go some of the yellow pigments, which leaves hair pale yellow. That’s because the natural colour of keratin, which is the protein that hair is composed of, is yellow. Never fear, your hair will not stay yellow; here is where a toner comes into play.
Don’t Try This at Home! As you can probably deduce from the above, lightening hair to achieve a platinum blonde result can more often than not be a tricky process; therefore it is recommended that you leave your beloved locks in the hands of a professional for this process.
Maintenance: Just as it’s important to sign up to regular salon visits, it is just as essential to commit to good colour maintenance at home. Here’s what you should use:
- Shampoo and conditioner for lightened hair: Shampoo formulated for platinum-coloured hair can help neutralise unwanted yellow tones and prevent brassiness, while a colour-protecting conditioner can help maintain the brightness of your platinum hue. Just a warning: some platinum-hair shampoos and conditioners should be used under the guidance of your colourist as they react differently to each hair type, due to porosity. This can be why some such products turn platinum hair silver or violet (which, of course, you might dig). Try Schwarzkopf Bonacure Colour Freeze Silver Shampoo and Colour Save Conditioner, $25.95 each, 1800 251 887.
- Leave- in conditioner: This should be used regularly to keep hair moisturised and split ends at bay, as bleaching hair strips away natural moisture, making it vulnerable to breakage. Try L’Oréal Hair Expertise EverPure Leave-in Conditioner, $14.95, pharmacies.
- Heat-protection treatment: Always apply this after washing your hair and before using any thermal styling tools. It will help protect over-processed hair from the damage heat appliances can wield, as well as taming any frizz. While all hair types benefit from such a treatment, it is essential for platinum blonde hair, which is more fragile than usual due to the intense lightening process it has undergone. Try Kérastase Ciment Thermique, from salons.
- Hairspray for blondes: Try Schwarzkopf Professional Blonde Me Glorious Hold Hairspray, $28.45, 1800 251 887, which is a perfect for a platinum ‘do. as it provides a flexible finish with UV filters to help protect against colour fade.
- Treatment: Bleach doesn’t just strip the colour molecules in your hair, it tends to strip protein, vitamins and moisture. It also changes the structure and texture of your hair. That’s why extra TLC is essential. Try to commit to two weekly treatments. One that will provide a moisture boost – try Moroccanoil Hydrating Mask, $44.50 available at selected salons – and one that will provide an effective dose of protein – in this case, go for Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask, $49.50.
- At-home toner: As well as a weekly treatment depending on the porosity of your hair and its ability to hold your desired tone, you may need to tone anywhere from weekly to fortnightly in between salon visits with a semi permanent, fast acting conditioning colour foam which effectively refreshes hair colour in-between salon visits. Try Goldwell Colourance Soft Colour, $21.95, salons.
Tell me, Primpers, are you platinum?
What are you top tress tips?
Or are you tempted to go to the light side?
– Lucy O’Donnell