Courtesy of Popsugar Beauty/Sarah Wasilak

Whether you're thinking about lightening your locks or you already have, it's definitely important you familiarize yourself with my learnings about toner, deep conditioning, and highlighting methods.

November 24, 2015

As a certified beauty dummy — I'm scared of the daunting appliance that is an eyelash curler and was not aware when I overtweezed my brows — I had no business walking into the nearest barber shop and declaring, "I want to go blond!" But that's what happened about two years ago, and the result was not so pretty. A "stylist" applied a single-process blond treatment to my dark brown mane, and I came out with just about the brassiest shade of blond you could ever imagine. It had hints of red and brown and serious streaks, and I'm going to refer to it as "brande" from here on out.

Since then, I've been working on improving and lightening my color on my own. And I recently booked a touch-up at Studio B Salon in New York, where I had an eye-opening experience. There, I met with Beth Minardi, who touched up my hair by hiding my roots with fresh highlights. Beth is a color specialist who's worked with A-list celebrities likeCameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, and Julianne Moore, and she offers her ownchemically advanced product line, Minardi.

For the three hours that I sat in her hot seat, patiently waiting for my refreshed dye job, Beth gave me a handful of useful tips and shed light on the many mistakes I had been making during my transition from dark brown to blond. Read on for some important takeaways and a few snaps of my latest look — plus one of that not-so-lovely "brande" shade I started at. Whether you're thinking about lightening your locks or you already have, it's definitely important you familiarize yourself with my learnings about toner, deep conditioning, and highlighting methods. That way, we can all walk out the door in the morning knowing we're the best blondes we can possibly be.

Make Sure You Make an Appointment With a Colorist You Trust

Photo: Courtesy of Popsugar Beauty/Sarah Wasilak

Here's a snap of my not-so-hot "brande" stage. I know I'm smiling, but on the inside, I'm totally panicked. One of the first things Beth said to me upon seeing and feeling my strands — which are in a lot better condition now — was, "You can't make a steak medium rare once it's well done." In other words, once you fry your hair, you won't be able to get back that silky texture you once had.

Of course, if you approach the dye process in a smart way, which starts by making an appointment with a well-trained specialist, you won't experience the same problems I did. By allowing someone to apply a single process on my dark mane, I damaged my hair, and the photo above is the result.

Avoid this by sitting down with your colorist and discussing the lightening process before your appointment. Going blond takes work and a lot of time. If you're not careful, it can result in permanent change to the texture of your hair.

There's a Method to the Highlighting Madness

Photo: Courtesy of Popsugar Beauty/Sarah Wasilak

Beth and her team shared a little secret with me: when Marilyn Monroe dyed her hair blond, her colorist would travel to her home and apply highlights strategically with a Q-tip! While that sounds like a pain, Beth's method is quite intricate, too:

"We wrap highlights in a vertical ladder-like pattern up through the back and sides of the head. We do this to provide extra pop in longer, thicker hair types," Beth said. She and her staff custom-shaped my highlights in order to enhance my unique look.

Your Toner Might Be Too Light

Photo: Courtesy of Popsugar Beauty/Sarah Wasilak

When Beth applied my toner — a base lightening product that prepares your hair for highlights — she gave me a few pointers. I learned that the colorist who had touched my dark brown hair initially selected a blond toner, and that's much too light. Instead, your toner should only be a shade or two lighter than your roots, and it's actually the highlights that help you achieve the blond you want!

Beth's method to all this madness: "I'm going to apply a quick toner that's just one shade lighter than your real hair color, then highlight the crap out of you!" It worked.

You Need to Deep Condition If You Want to Keep Your Locks Silky-Smooth

Photo: Courtesy of Popsugar Beauty/Sarah Wasilak

Beth's Minardi nourishing wash boasts some seriously hydrating ingredients, including vitamin B5, which she used to nourish my locks while I was in the salon. It doesn't only preserve the shade achieved at your appointment — it moisturizes your strands to prevent breakage and helps to restore that silky-smooth look and feel that I missed so much.

If you dye your hair blond, you should invest in a similar product to use in between touch-ups and experiment with leave-in hair masks and conditioners while at home.

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