I've been wanting to change my hair for quite some time, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and brighten my locks with a beautiful brunette blonde balayage.
You may not know this, but 4 years ago I actually cut my hair into a caramel-blonde bob. Yes, seriously! Length-wise, I can't see myself cutting it that short any time soon, but colour-wise, it was beautiful having multi-tonal blonde hair, so I wanted to achieve that colour again.
My gripe with having a full head of caramel/blonde - and you'll know this if you also have dark hair - was having to touch up my roots every 3-4 weeks. SO, I figured a brunette blonde balayage was the perfect compromise because it meant I could achieve that multi-tonal blonde look once again, but I didn't have to kill my hair with colour every month.
My colour transformation
I partnered up with BRUSH Salon to achieve the look and I am unbelievably happy with the result. Jes, my stylist, did a fantastic job and she created a fade from my natural colour - very dark brown - to a caramel/honey and then light blonde at the ends. Jes trained directly under Michael Gibson, co-founder of the salon who is known in Vancouver for his amazing balayage work, so I felt confident that I was in good hands.
I never realized how much was involved in a balayage. All in all, it took a whopping 6 hours to achieve this look because I have so much hair, but by the end of the afternoon I was very happy with how the colour turned out. Jes employed a variety of blending, fine weaving and tipping techniques to achieve a natural fade from dark brown to blonde. My hair needed a good cut, so she also chopped 3-4 inches off the bottom layer to tidy everything up and get rid of any straggly or frayed ends.
As well as lightening my hair Jes applied an Olaplex treatment, which for coloured hair is honestly AMAZING. This is a must-have if you're lightening/bleaching your hair, as colouring causes your hair a lot of damage.
Olaplex works on a molecular level to repair and rebuild broken disulphide bonds in the hair and leaves it feeling healthy, shiny, and silky smooth. I found that after we coloured my hair it did feel a bit dry and brittle, especially the first few days after. Jes advised me that this is normal as it takes the bleach a few days to settle, so I went back after a week for a second Olaplex treatment.
My hair went from being dry and a little lacklustre (from the lightener) to soft, silky silky smooth, and just in a beautiful condition. I'd even go as far as saying that after the treatment my hair felt softer than it did before I bleached it. In theory, Olaplex is permanent as it doesn't wash out, however if you heat style your hair a lot, the heat will proceed to break the bonds so you may want to do a treatment or two between colours to keep the hair strong and healthy.
How to keep bleached hair healthy
My number #1 priority when taking my hair lighter was to maintain the health and integrity of my hair. Jes was conscious of this and was gentle with the colour intensity, but she also stressed the importance of aftercare. I know that aftercare products aren't always cheap, but there's really no point in investing $300+ in your hair and not looking after it properly. Spending a little bit of money on treatments or products will maintain the colour and health of your hair, so it's worth every penny.
As mentioned above, the Olaplex treatment is a must when bleaching. My hair is significantly stronger since the two treatments and my hair has so much elasticity and shine. I also bought the Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy hair treatment mask which I highly recommend. You do the mask once a week and it deeply restores and solidifies the fibres from within. It helps your hair to regain strength too, so after you've finished the tub you can move onto something less strong. It cost $66 CAD from the salon, however, I felt it was a very worthy investment especially as it works so well.
Achieving this colour
If you're interested in achieving this brunette balayage look, I can't recommend Jes enough. She's such a lovely girl and listened so closely to what I wanted, which for me is one of the most important attributes in a stylist. My hair is my pride and joy, and to say that i'm picky is a bit of an understatement! However, she did everything I asked, paid so much attention to detail, and talked me through every step so I understood what we were doing to my hair.
We wanted to achieve a very blended sombre/balayage, keeping my natural dark base around the roots with blonde ends. This is fairly low-maintenance, and the only upkeep will be the occasional toner treatment to keep the colour fresh, and hair treatments to maintain the condition. To achieve a lighter blonde, this would require further sessions to get rid of any/all orangey tones, but I don't think i'll go any lighter at this point as I love the colour as it is. If you're interested in achieving this look with Jes and have dark brown hair, here's what was involved:
1) A full-head of foils adopting a fine weave technique & high density, using Loreal Powder Lightener + 30 vol and Olaplex.
2) Tipping out the ends to create a natural blend using a Lightner and Olaplex.
3) Lifting my hair to a level 9 to ensure that my hair didn't fade to a brassy/orange tone.
4) Applying toner to the roots and a different toner to the mids and ends. Jes used Loreal Dia Richesse and feathered out the root toner past my cheek bones, and then applied a slightly different tone to the midsections and ends. She emulsified the two toners to create a soft and natural colour melt.
5) Jes then applied Olaplex No. 2 to my entire head, which was the second stage of the Olaplex treatment, and shampooed and conditioned using Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy. This was followed by cutting 3-4 inches off the ends, and creating long layers and framing around my face.
I am super happy with the result, especially since i've achieved what I thought was impossible - a drastic colour change while maintaining the health & condition of my hair.
A huge thank you to Jes and BRUSH Salon for the experience and creating this beautiful colour. If you're interested in learning more about how Jes achieved this look, aftercare, or anything else, leave me a comment in the box below or drop me a tweet and i'll be happy to answer any of your questions 🙂
See BRUSH salon's website for more details and pricing.