They say blondes have more fun. But being born Asian and blessed with jet black hair, going blonde can be a lot of work! Is it really worth all the effort? To answer that you need to ask two other questions:
1. What does it take to go blonde and how do you maintain it?
2. Are blondes really having all that much more fun!?
Well, with the second question, let me dispel one myth right now (for me anyway)… no, I haven’t had any more fun blonde than I have with any other hair colour. And I’ve tried a lot! Then again, I did get proposed to and had the most incredible wedding while I was blonde. So maybe…
That aside, I’m one of those people who would be bored with having the same hair style day in and day out, year after year. So I’ve pretty much done it all… except shaving my head. Given my past experience with different hair colours and styles, I can say with absolute certainty that keeping my hair blonde has been by far the most laborious of them all! So what does it take?
No matter what, make sure you’re going to a colourist who knows what they’re doing! That generally means you need to go to a reputable salon, which can be expensive, but not always. The first time I went fully blonde was for a TV show shot in Vancouver. My stylist at the time warned me that dyeing my hair from black to blonde was no small feat and needed to be done right, and her friend was the only one she trusted to do it for me. But unfortunately, due to production budgets, my stylist had to bleach my hair after all. 5 hours later I had yellow hair that was so dry and wrecked that just a small breeze could cause hairs to break off!
An emergency meeting was held, and the next day me and my yellow malting hair was sent to that colourist friend who worked in a small unassuming salon just outside of downtown Vancouver. 4 hours later I came out with beautiful platinum blonde hair that was soft to the touch. The difference was drastic! So what did she do differently?
Firstly, like needing good produce to make good food, you need good products for good results. Then it comes down to experience. Patti Kool, the colourist, took her time experimenting with different mixtures before deciding on what she believed would work for me. There’s no question that it must have taken her many years to reach this level of mastery and understanding. And the secret to restoring the health of the hair? Olaplex. This is a product that works on a molecular level by restoring broken bonds in the hair that have been damaged by harsh treatments such as bleaching. After adding toner to my hair, which gives it a cooler-toned, platinum finish, Patti gave me a bottle of Olaplex No. 3 to take home with me. I would use it before washing my hair by first wetting my hair, then letting it sit like a mask for 20 minutes up to an hour. Then I’ll rinse it out before using purple shampoo and conditioner, especially made for maintaining blonde hair. Yes, it’s a lot of extra work!
To match the look of my character I had to have my roots bleached, hair toned and repaired every 2 weeks, and I was on that TV show for about 5 months. I was later told by production that my hair style turned out to be the most expensive of all the characters, and I was on a sci-fi show!
Needing That Blonde Fix
When I finished the show and returned to Hong Kong I decided I wanted to grow out my hair, as I had it partially shaved for my character, but I wanted to keep the blonde colour. I spent a month in LA before returning to Hong Kong so my roots had grown out and needed attending to, and so I went to my usual stylist. 5 hours later I came out with yellow and damaged hair. I couldn’t believe it. My stylist and their salon were very reputable (and expensive!). I had done other colouring with them and never had any problems before, but platinum blonde obviously was a bridge too far. After that horrid experience I became a lot wearier with other salons. It wasn’t until I was introduced to David Gouygou at BRUNEBLONDE that I found the right person to give me my blonde fix. Here they take hair care even more seriously by making their own haircare products which I love using. Now having a better idea of how to maintain my blonde hair, I was able to ask deeper questions of David. Things I learned from him were:
- Product quality is everything. If you’re not using the right ones you won’t get effective maintenance of your hair.
- Apply a regenerating balm (or bonding liquid) to the hair before shampooing and leave it on your hair for about 20 minutes – I use the BRUNEBLONDE Yasamen Royal Regenerating Balm, which contains mango seed butter, an antioxidant, good for hair growth, Vitamins A, C and E; Prickly Pear Extract, for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and conditioning; Cocoa Butter, for conditioning, nourishing and anti-frizz. The multi-purpose product is like the Tiger Balm of hair and skin care – except it certainly smells a lot better!
- Use a good hydrating purple shampoo and conditioner to keep the tone of your blonde hair at home. A hair mask with blue pigment is a great product to have in your “at home” hair kit.
- You can get even more help to repair your damaged hair by using a mask for your hair. I use Olaplex No. 3 hair masks for 2 or 3 days on the first week after my first bleaching, then once a week afterwards.
- Try not to wash your hair daily. Once every two days would suffice. Daily washing is very harsh on the hair and scalp, so try to get into an “every other day” routine. After a while, your scalp will adapt to this frequency and you will see the benefits.
- After washing, don’t dry your hair using heat on your blow-dryer. Cool blow drying of course takes longer, but saves your hair. David explained that cool air drying will help to close the hair cuticle (shampooing the hair opens the hair’s cuticle). Closing the cuticle gives hair a more sleek and shiny effect.
- Further maintain the perfect shade of blonde by visiting your stylist every 3 weeks to refresh your toner.
Now, my brunette brothers and sisters out there, armed with the above knowledge go out and give blonde a go. I can’t guarantee that you will get proposed to, but you’ll definitely get looks!
Photographer: Ethan Chan @ Mad Minds HK
Hair: David Gouygou @ BRUNEBLONDE
Makeup: Faye Chow
JuJu Chan Szeto: My Journey To Becoming a Martial Arts Actress
EditorJuJu Chan Szeto
CreditLead image: JuJu Chan Szeto with David Gouygou by Ethan Chan @ Mad Minds HK