So You Want to Go Blonde This Summer?

Here's everything you need to know if you have natural hair and want to take the plunge.

ALL NATURAL: So You Want to Go Blonde This Summer?
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Going blonde can be a drastic decision for those of us with natural hair.

Beyond the dyeing process itself, figuring out pre-treatments, post-treatments, a new color-safe haircare regimen, and whether or not your hair is even healthy enough for a big change are all factors to consider. But the good news is that you can take baby steps to get there.

"There are many options to achieving blonde that do not involve coloring your entire head of hair," says Jamie Mazzei, Creative Director for NuBest Salon & Spa in Manhasset, NY. "Some of the options you might want to explore would be highlights, babylights, or balayage. You can try a placement that just frames your face to start. Of course, if you want that full head of blonde, go for that global application."

Regardless of whether you're just starting out with highlights or are ready to take the full plunge, we reached out to a handful of expert curly hair and coloring specialists to share everything you need to know before going blonde this summer.

How Should I Prep My Natural Hair Before Going Blonde?

First off, you want to ensure your hair is in a generally healthy state. So it's a good idea to do deep conditioning treatments every week leading up to your appointment.

"I have my clients strictly use the whole Olaplex line leading up to our appointment," says celebrity hair stylist and Olaplex ambassador Christin Brown. "Many naturally curly people use a wide range of products, so I try to have them commit to a line that is based around strengthening and repair."

Matrix brand ambassador Takisha Sturdivant-Drew and Matrix Global Artistic Director Michelle O'Connor both agree, adding that the hair should be clarified the day of your color appointment and fully detangled for optimal service.

We're fans of the Pattern Clarifying Shampoo and the Felicia Leatherwood Detangling Brush.

Should I Go to the Salon Or DIY?

While there's a time and place for box dye, if this is your first time going blonde, it's best to see a professional to ensure you end up with the color you desire and prevent hair damage.

Plus, even if you're ready for a full head of blonde, depending on the state of your hair, it may be best to start slow — you'll have to be in the stylist's chair before deciding the best route to go.

"Highlighting is the subtle or bold entryway for getting that overall dimension that many are looking to achieve without dying their whole head," Brown explains. "Sometimes, the most subtle highlights can give a dramatic effect, so you can always start small and work your way up to something more."

Will Going Blonde Destroy My Natural Curls?

As long as you go to a professional who is trained to work with curly and coily hair, you will be in good hands. And believe it or not, color products have come a long way.

"Going blonde isn't always damaging for natural hair as color and lighteners now have bonders built within the product, which offsets and minimizes damage," explains O'Connor.

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Will I Need to Revamp My Natural Haircare Routine If I Go Blonde?

Yes and no. You'll definitely need to introduce some color-safe products into your regimen to ensure your color doesn't fade or get brassy, but much of your regular routine can remain intact.

"The Matrix So-Silver All-In-One Toning Spray is a great option for blondes for at-home maintenance," Sturdivant-Drew shares. "It neutralizes brassiness, prevents damage, and tones the hair." The stylist also recommends using the brand's Total Results So Silver Triple Power Hair Mask for deep conditioning and color protection.

To keep hair strong, Brown says to use Olaplex's at-home collection. "It has a patented bond-building technology that repairs and strengthens hair. This not only gives them the support they need at-home, but it also gives me peace of mind that the condition of their hair will be on good shape for our next session."

What Should I Expect As My Hair Starts to Grow Out?

"The grow-out process for curl color is such a graceful experience due to the fact that this hair is naturally lifted off of the scalp," explains O'Connor. "It lives high, bold, and big. Maintenance should be every three to four months, making it a lower-maintenance color commitment. Where you want to focus your energy is keeping the curl moisturized and strong with consistent treatments."


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