How to Go Platinum Blonde the Right Way

In the annals of men’s grooming, going platinum blond is not the newest trend, but it is one of the most advanced. Once relegated to rebels and punks, the trend made a come back a few years ago among cool kids like Kanye West and Jaden Smith. Since then, going platinum has gotten the closest to mainstream it ever has.

Case in point: Zac Efron, Chris Messina, J. Balvin, Jonah Hill. And I can keep going. Donald Glover even recently bleached his beard (and in the process, made a case for never bleaching your beard.) What’s notable is that not many of these celebrities are known for grooming experimentation, but they’ve all shown up lately with their hair bleached.

These guys make a case for the democracy of bleach. The only thing it really takes to bleach your hair is commitment. Well, that and a good colorist. “Almost anybody can go platinum,” says Elisabeth Lovell, co-founder and stylist at Whiteroom salon in Brooklyn, NY. “It depends on the tone that you choose rather than whether or not you can do it. If you have really dark hair, you may have to have it bleached twice to get it to that white color, if it’s possible.”

Mark my words, we’re going to see more bleached hair than ever before this year and it’s a trend that’s surprisingly easy for anyone to participate. Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to try platinum for yourself.

Is Bleaching Your Hair At Home Bad?

Seriously, don’t try this at home. “The difference between color, hair color, and bleach is that bleach is continuous,” says Lovell. “Hair color kind of has a built-in timer, so it only works as long as it can, and then it stops. Bleach will work forever until it dries out.” That means that it’s really easy to leave it on for too long, which can cause serious damage. Over-bleached hair, according to Lovell, feels gummy and will eventually fall out altogether. This also makes it extremely difficult to get a consistent dye job, because you can’t apply it all over your head at once. If you don’t know when to wash out each section, you’ll end up with inconsistent color. A skilled colorist can avoid all that. So, the first step in any bleach job is to call to a hair salon.

Do Your Research

Bleaching a man’s hair isn’t inherently different than bleaching a woman’s, but when you’re trying to find a good colorist, look for someone whose Instagram account has pictures of men. It will not only let you know the colorist is experienced with men, but can give you some ideas too (and reference photos to bring to your appointment.)

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The Shorter The Hair, The Easier To Bleach

Funnily enough, if you have very short hair (think the aforementioned Kanye or J. Balvin), you’ll have an easier time bleaching. “The heat from the scalp makes the bleach process so much faster,” Lovell says. “Hair that’s long and far away from the scalp processes at a much slower rate than anything right next to the scalp.” It’s also easier to get an even color, since there is less hair to contend with. On average, a full bleach will take about 45 minutes, depending on how long your hair is.

You Need a Good Toner for Platinum Hair

Still not convinced you can’t do this yourself? I bet you didn’t know about toner. It’s the all-important step after bleaching that helps get you exactly the color you want. Especially if you have dark hair, “the most important part of the process is the toner,” says Lovell. “The bleaching kind of does its own thing, but the toner is really what makes it look good or bad.” Color theory plays a huge role here in knowing exactly what kind of toner to put on to help achieve whatever look you want. It can cut down on yellow, bring out silver, and even make yellow-tinged hair bright white. Without extensive training, you run the risk of getting old-lady blue.

Maintaining Bleached Hair is Key

The biggest part of a bleach job is understanding what you’re in for, especially after the fact. Maintaining a platinum dye job is much different than natural hair. Expect to get your roots touched up about every six weeks if you don’t want them to show (sooner if you cut your hair often.) The longer they get, the harder they are to keep consistent with the rest of your hair. Unlike other color, bleached hair doesn’t fade technically, but the toner can wear off. That’s why platinum hair can start to look yellow, which is what people refer to when they say “brassy.”

Change Your Products

Lovell recommends using a purple conditioner specifically for bleached hair at least once every few days (or every day if you get to bright white.) “Purple cancels out those brassy yellow tones that start to come through as the toner wears off,” she says. Bleached hair can get crispy easily, so use a super hydrating, color-safe shampoo that will keep it moist. The same goes for styling products. “The usual like wax or pomade might not be what you need anymore, you might need more like a leave in conditioner and a styling cream because you’ll need hydration,” she says.

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