What I Wish I Knew Before Spending $500 to Fix My Brassy Highlights
My last highlight job was the perfect storm of Mercury-retrograde misfortune. My first mistake was going to a new salon and placing my hair's fate in the hands of a total stranger without doing a consultation—and my second mistake was not saying anything the minute I saw the outcome. I was hoping for light blond; instead I got brass. And a hell of a lot of it. I left the salon, held back tears, and sent an email a few hours later asking for corrective color.
They agreed and asked me to come back the following Tuesday evening, but when I showed up 10 minutes late (from a doctor's appointment—but we'll count that as mistake number three), they apologized and told me they didn't have time for my appointment. I tried to salvage my session by telling them I was flying to Mexico the next morning—on a group trip where my ex would be present—and I didn't exactly want to show up with orange roots. Still, they didn't budge, and I actually saw my colorist see me and bolt in the opposite direction. Enter my living nightmare.
In my blurred judgment I decided to run down the street—now in a full-on ugly cry—to another salon. Mistake number four was asking another colorist to try to fix my situation, again, without a consultation. She warned me she wouldn't be able to do much because of my previous botched job, but I left it up to fate and said the only prayer I remembered from Hebrew school.
It didn't work. After getting two highlight treatments and a ton of exposure to sun and salt water, by the time I came home from Mexico, my hair was damaged and my hairline could have easily been mistaken for a carrot. Despite people telling me otherwise, I didn't care. This wasn't my hair.
I bought purple shampoo after purple shampoo and even threw in a platinum blond root concealer to spray all over my entire head—after it was all said and done, it cost me around $500, and my hair was no closer to the beautiful bright blond I'd set out to get.
Then I was referred to Rita Hazan, the woman who saved my life. (I might have a slight flair for the dramatic, but bear with me.) She promised to turn my two-toned brassy highlights into a sun-kissed blond, and when Beyoncé trusts someone to color her hair, so do you. She started the process with a first round of highlights to lift the color since the problem with my last two treatments was that the lightener wasn't left on long enough to take my dark roots into a light blond. She used a teasing technique to highlight my entire head and left me in foils for 10 or so minutes. After washing out the color and drying my hair, she applied more lightener using the standard weaving-comb technique to correct the color closer to my roots. After a few more minutes of foil, I had a new head of hair—and new bouncy layers, because why not?
After spending the day in Hazan's chair, I learned that I've been far too nonchalant about being a blond. I could have easily prevented my disaster of a highlight job by simply following some basic guidelines: (1) Do your research (one way: look up colorists' portfolios on Instagram to see who does a great job at the color you want), and (2) get a consultation. I'm embarrassed to admit I did neither—especially considering my breathing to Insta-stalking ratio.
If you make my mistake and don't do your research, there's a right way and a wrong way to ask for a corrective color. "If you don't like your color, just say you don't like it," explains Hazan. "If you start crying or get aggressive, it makes the colorist not really want to help. It's best if you simply state, 'I wanted it a little lighter, would you mind making it a little lighter?' If you come at a person in an aggressive or dramatic way, you lose the sense of wanting to fix your hair and get caught up in emotion." Seems pretty obvious, right? Not if you're like me and get riled up in the moment, but Hazan pointed out that I could have told the manager of the salon if I didn't feel comfortable telling my colorist.
I'm the clear case study of what happens when you feel too awkward to tell someone you don't like their work, but I am so thankful I didn't try to correct the color myself. There's no doubt in my mind I would have either lost all my hair or turned it green if I had attempted Pinterest hacks or used drugstore dye. Purple shampoo and purple glosses don't count since they're not so much corrective as they are preventive. In fact, Hazan is super pro-gloss.
"The system that everyone is missing from their routine is glossing," Hazan told me. "Your hair is going to fade and get dull, so you have to do something in between at home to keep it shiny and vibrant." She suggests using her Breaking Brass Gloss two or three times a week to prevent your hair from turning yellow or orange. (It comes in five colors so you can pick whatever makes the most sense for your hair.) Additionally, I've been using DryBar Blonde Ale and Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo to keep my color fresh and bright to wild success.
Hazan's Weekly Remedy is another treatment she recommends using once or twice a week, especially if you're blond. "It's one of my favorite products. I manipulated conditioner to do what I want it to do," she says. "The first step has all of these great ingredients and a high pH balance so it opens the cuticle, and the second step has a lower pH balance so it locks in all of those great ingredients." I honestly couldn't believe it was my hair after using her product only once—especially after all the damage I'd accumulated. Also a goodie: Hazan's Triple Threat Split End Remedy. It basically glues up your split ends to keep your long hair healthy. Dynamic duo? I think so.
Obviously, products don't come cheap, but having to redo color and throw down for corrective treatments ends up being even more costly. Now I'm committing to a maintenance routine of touch-ups every three to four months with a colorist I trust (ahem, Rita, my saving grace). It sucks I spent my trip to Mexico (and my 24th birthday) with a brassy hairline. But at least it led me here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour