It was the beauty bang heard across Instagram. Reality star Kim Kardashian lightened her famously dark hair from an intense raven to an icy, platinum blond, changing her entire look and signaling to fans that perhaps it's true that blonds have more fun.
But platinum blonds are also the ones saddled with more upkeep, particularly when going from a rich black or dark brown shade to stark white-blond. There is the laborious lightening process, which must be done carefully to avoid damage, and frequent trips back to the salon to bleach out roots before the hair becomes a two-tone, color-blocked mane.
"If you're going to do it, take the time to do it right or just don't do it," says celebrity hair colorist Lorri Goddard, co-owner of the Goddard + Bragg salon in West Hollywood and the woman who gave Kardashian her new bombshell shade.
In addition to Kardashian, Bragg also keeps regular clients Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence and Iggy Azalea various shades of bright blond.
She calls the shade she gave Kardashian, "a sultry platinum; combining a medley of beachy platinum hues throughout and with a subtle smoky overlay." With hair color, "smoky" tones translate to a muted, pearly, ash shade of blond. "The shade most synonymous with Old Hollywood starlets," says Goddard.
If you're thinking about taking dark hair blond, there are several things to take into consideration, Goddard says.
First find a trusted professional colorist who will perform a strand test on hair to see exactly how it will withstand the processing. "Through a strand test, we can see how the pigment is lifting," says Goddard. "There's always the history of the hair. Someone who is dark and hasn't done as much color is going to have more success. For people who have done a lot of color, all that color is still underneath. It's all about the history of the fabric on the head. The history is what dictates where the hair is going to go."
Goddard says the test can be done one to three days before taking the plunge into platinum.
The initial lightening session usually will take a minimum of three hours, but it could increase to five or more hours depending on the length of the hair, and it might take multiple sessions to achieve the desired result.
The hair colorist should go slowly to make sure hair is maintaining its strength throughout the process, which involves two steps: bleaching to remove dark pigment and applying toner to add the new color.
"I keep hair strong by being gentle," says Goddard, who always has a towel and a bottle filled with water and grapefruit extract nearby so she can remove the solution from hair as soon as she sees an area that isn't reacting favorably. "You have to let certain areas of the hair rest, and other areas can keep pushing," she says "It's like working on a canvas. You want to get each specific area just right and the texture of each area of the hair isn't all the same due to dying, heat and styling."
The path to platinum takes one initial session, after which the hair must rest for at least six or seven days to see how it oxidizes and restructures. Then, depending on how the hair is holding up, a second session may be needed, "if you want to push it to that next level," Goddard says.
When dark roots begin to appear varies depending on how fast an individual's hair grows. But generally upkeep requires a visit to the salon every three weeks for a touch up.
Maintaining platinum color at home requires using non-sulfate shampoos that won't strip out the toner, which is imperative to keep the color intact.
"Don't go in the pool and do use UV protectant spray," Goddard adds. "The toner is very delicate and temperamental and will come out very quickly if you don't use the right shampoo." She also has her clients sleep in a hair mask of organic coconut oil for two to three days after lightening, to help the hair regain strength.
"Platinum is a lifestyle," says Goddard. "Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe and the Alfred Hitchcock blonds — it's been going for decades. Platinum has a vibe. It's an adventure."