If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen that my platinum hair is already long-gone, but not because this color was anything less than fabulous (I just love change!). Before I took the white-blond plunge, I spent a lot of time on the internet searching for photos and tips, and honestly, a lot of what's out there is enough to scare anyone away from this risky shade. Scalp burns, hair falling out - sounds like fun! But I'm glad I went for it and was even surprised at how well my hair stood up to the beating it took to maintain this shade. After nearly two years of bleaching, it was still decently soft and shiny. To pay forward all my online research knowledge and more importantly, my own experience, I'm here to share what I learned after being a whiter shade of pale:
Get a good colorist
I'm all for doing hair color at home. Heck, the dark auburn I had for years was out of a 4€ box, done in my bathroom every 4-6 weeks. But platinum is another beast altogether. First off, it's bleach. The same heavy duty cleaner that wipes away any DNA after a homocide. It's no joke and used incorrectly, you can get burned or even cause all your hair to break off. Not to be dramatic, but those stories are out there for a reason. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who truly knows what they're doing and can help you out at home, then go for it. But if you're new to this process, it's best to go to a professional you trust. My colorist here in Berlin (Carolin at Friseurladen) took great care of my color, getting out pesky bits of pastel colors I had played with on my own - and with her - as well as toning to perfection. I actually started with another colorist, but she never could quite find that perfect balance between golden and grey, proving not all stylists are created equal. Also! Make sure to have your hair as dirty as you can stand it before every coloring session. The buildup protects your scalp from the burning and itching bleach causes, making it a much less painful experience.
Wash minimally, deep-condition regularly
Like every salon-achieved hair color, shampoo - and even water! - can strip that beautiful shade you just paid your hard-earned money for. Washing hair as little as possible is key, which can be a tough transition if you're a daily shampooer. Understand that it will take time for your scalp to adjust and you will be a greasy mess for a while until it stops overproducing oil. I wash my hair one-two times a week, and it took me several months to not look like a homeless person on this regimen. A good dry shampoo is key, as are the right shampoos in the shower (see my recommendations below). Whether you deep condition with an oil, like I did, or with a mask, do it often and for as long as you can manage to sit at home with your hair wrapped up. Trust me, your hair will thank you.
Hands (styling tools, hair elastics, etc.) off!
That gleaming white shade has been achieved by stripping all the pigment from your hair, including it's strength and a good deal of its volume. Even if you're lucky enough to have thick strands of hair to begin with (in which case, lucky you!), it's going to get a heck of a lot more delicate. Something as simple as running a brush through your hair can be met with a cacophony of snapping. This means wide-tooth combs only and minimal brushing, finger-combing in the morning should be your go-to. Hair elastics, bobby pins and the like will also strain your already stressed strands even more and should be kept to a minimum. Heat tools and blow drying are also torture for hair in this state, and should also be avoided. I was pretty stringent about all these practices and still suffered from a lot of breakage, though my strands were pretty fine to begin with. TLC should be the name of the game with platinum locks.
Protection, protection, protection
Platinum hair is so delicate, it needs more protection from the elements. That means keeping it under knit hats in the drying winter and under straw ones in the stripping summer sun. Additionally, what the sun does to make natural blondes blonder, will only yellow your hard-earned white hue, resulting in toning more often to keep the brassiness at bay. Don't forget thinning the structure of your hair with this process will also leave your scalp more prone to sunburn as well. I never tried any hair sunscreens for fear the ingredients would also yellow my hair, but if you've had any positive experience with this, please share in the comments!
Choose the right products
Speaking of products, it's important to remember this is another area that can kill the perfect white in as little as one use. These are the products that worked best for me:
- Phyto Subtil Elixer: This pre-shampoo oil did great things for the softness of my platinum hair. While the directions recommend to leave on for 10 minutes, sometimes I'd leave it on for over an hour. True, the product is a pretty deep golden that's probably not the best for white strands, but the right shampoo counteracts any discoloring that might occur.
- Lush Rehab Shampoo: What I originally bought as a deep-conditioning shampoo turned out to be one of my best weapons in fighting against the yellowing effects of the world on my white hair. Almost doing a better job of toning than Shimmer Lights, I was shocked at how one shampoo with this would restore my hair to the shimmering pale hue I left the salon with. It's important to note, this will not tone hair that was yellow to start with, it will only strip away the brassiness that has occurred between colorings.
- Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo: This American cult classic got it's status for good reason - it works! It's pretty strong stuff, both in color and old-lady scent, but it will tone hair all the way to lavender if you let it (which could be good, if pastels are your thing). It can also be diluted by mixing with regular shampoo. Keep an eye on how long you leave it on, as some more thirsty strands will hold the purple stronger than others. If you find it hard to come by or too expensive here in Europe, Lush's Daddy-O Shampoo is a solid alternative.
- Davines OI Absolute Beautifying Potion: I discovered this through my stylist, first loving the scent when she'd spread it on my hair but then loving the non-greasy softness it left behind. A lot more than I normally like to spend on hair products, I was pleased to find that a very little goes a long way and even the small bottle lasts for-ev-er with short hair. I'd put this on wet hair after getting out of the shower and also for small, smoothing touch-ups to dry hair between shampoos. It is by far my favorite hair product discovery of the last few years.
- Burt's Bees Baby Bee Dusting Powder: After discovering my go-to dry shampoo left my new platinum hair a parched, crunchy mess thanks to all the alcohol in it, I knew I'd have to find an alternate way to stretch my shampoos and preserve my color - without turning it to straw. Enter Burt's Bees baby powder. It's talc-free, smells divine and soaks up hair oil well with it's cornstarch base. Frustratingly, it's one of the few items in the Baby Bee line not available in Germany, so I have friends bring me a bottle anytime they visit. (I've been a big fan of this stuff for a long time)
Whether you are already platinum or looking to try out this color soon, I hope you find some helpful tips for your best blond!