Dyeing dark, Asian hair blonde is no easy task. So we’ve consulted Hong Kong’s top colourists and hair professionals to walk us through every step of the process, including how to choose a flattering shade, what to expect during your appointment, and the best products for aftercare.
Our panel of experts includes Indulgence Salon’s Creative Stylist Ilya Yurlov and Creative Director Rebecca Schmieg, and Hair Culture’s Technical Director Roy Wong. They answer our burning questions on what it takes to achieve supreme Asian Blonde strands, like that of supermodel Soo Joo Park or It-girl Vanessa Hong of @thehautepursuit.
Why is Asian hair so difficult to dye blonde?
In a sentence: You have to penetrate a tight cuticle and several layers to reach a dark base colour.
- Rebecca Schmieg, Creative Director at Indulgence: “You are starting with a much darker base colour so you not only have to lift the hair many more levels, which is opening the hair cuticle further, but you are also dealing with a lot more warmth in the undercoat as you are lightening.”
- Roy Wong, Hair Culture’s Technical Director: “When bleached, Asian or dark hair pigment passes through black, brown, red, orange, yellow and pale yellow colours. Since the red pigment is so hard to lift, most people encounter the orange phase more often than they’d like to and hair eventually turns brassy because the initial treatment didn’t lighten the hair enough.”
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How do I choose a flattering blonde shade for my complexion?
In a sentence: Choose a shade that complements your skin’s undertone to avoid looking washed out or sallow — and be realistic.
- Roy Wong: “Those with paler or cooler skin tones look stunning with ash blonde, mint blonde, lavender blonde and pearl blonde shades. Those with warmer skin tones look good with golden, rose golden and peach golden hues.”
- Ilya Yurlov, Creative Stylist at Indulgence Salon: “It also depends on the variety of factors such including current hair situation, budget, client’s ability to maintain the right hair care routine.”
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How long is the process?
In a sentence: It really depends on the client, but you can expect one to three appointments.
- Rebecca Schmieg: “If you want an all-over platinum look it will take multiple applications of bleach, usually done in one day, to achieve the cleanest light ash blonde. If you want to have highlights and go two-to-three shades lighter than your natural colour, it will take two-to-three appointments for the best results.”
- Roy Wong: “It also depends on what technique is used – foil, balayage or ombre.”
What does toner do?
In a sentence: Toner is an optional last step to your hair appointment that fights unwanted brassiness.
- Ilya Yurlov: “The main purpose of the toner is to eliminate brassy yellow, orange or red tones that may appear on bleached hair. Most of the toners are semi-permanent so it won’t damage the hair. It compliments the bleaching and is the last step of the whole process.”
What do I need for aftercare?
- Purple Shampoo:
“Hong Kong’s water has a lot of chlorine in it which is very yellowing to hair, so a purple shampoo and conditioner can be used to maintain neutral and ash blondes.” -Rebecca Schmieg
“Olaplex is the only treatment that rebuilds the bonds in the hair after intense chemical processing. It’s very useful during, after and between color services to maintain hair health.” -Rebecca Schmieg
- Colder water for washing your hair:
“Use color maintenance shampoo with cold or lukewarm water. Lower temperatures can help close the hair’s cuticle, which makes your hair color stay longer and look shinier.” – Roy Wong
And the products the pros swear by…