How To Go Platinum Blonde Without Destroying Your Hair

Find out how to avoid dryness, dullness, and breakage.

Beauty Bright Blonde
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Platinum blonde hair is a study in extremes: Next-level confidence, impossible glamour, ultimate cool girl vibes, and not to mention the all-eyes-on-you shock factor.

Equally extreme: the road it takes to get there.

A total hair transformation of the sparkling platinum blonde variety, is not a simple dye job (pro tip: get comfy in the stylist's chair — you're going to be there all day). And the aftercare? Basically a part-time side hustle.

But like most boss power moves, the end result is so worth the effort.

That's why we asked the top celebrity colorists, renowned for their blonde mastery, for all the details on exactly what to expect with bleached hair. Everything you need to know about the daily routine and maintenance to tips for the first-timers, how to bleach your hair at home if you really need to, and all the products your bathroom can handle to keep your strands in formation and hold onto your hue, ahead.

Book a Consultation Before Your Colorist Bleaches Your Hair

Going platinum is a commitment in nearly every way, from the time you'll spend in your colorist's chair, to the amount of money you'll invest in the upkeep. So without properly discussing your hair goals and vision with your stylist beforehand, you're missing out on a lot of key info.

Consultations are essential, says Angela Haight, colorist at Marie Robinson Salon in New York City, not just to review the basics, like time, pricing and maintenance, "but also to get a sense of what the client's hair has gone through prior to seeing me," she says.

"When it comes to bleaching your hair, being completely honest with your hair colorist about every chemical treatment you've had done is key," she continues. "It's better to know in advance what we are up against and how to prepare for it, than to be surprised later."

If you've color-hopped the rainbow on your hair or recently had a chemical straightening treatment, you may not be cleared to go full-on platinum, because the risk of damaging the hair structure is too great.

How Prep Your Hair Before Bleaching It

Expect to begin your platinum hair journey about a month before your actual color appointment, with additional measures the closer you get, right up until the night before.

"The healthier and stronger your hair is to begin with, the more beautiful the result will be," says Haight, who recommends pausing on heat styling entirely for the month leading up to your first appointment. "Heat styling makes the hair very weak and porous, which will result in a very sad looking blonde."

Plus, bleach is extremely drying, so in the lead-up to your appointment, you'll want to pack on as much moisture and hydration as you can. Haight recommends liberal and frequent applications of the deep conditioning treatment Olaplex No. 3 each week, or even just combing the coconut oil in your kitchen through your strands, which she calls "a great option because it's clear and won't deposit an unwanted color or tone onto the hair."

Nikki Lee, the colorist behind famous blondes Jessica Simpson, Charlize Theron, and Britney Spears, and founder of the West Hollywood salon Nine Zero One, tells her clients to sleep with an oil or leave-in mask the night before. "Any added moisture to the hair before lightening is helpful," she says.

Bleaching Your Hair At a Salon

Getting hair to a perfect shade of platinum is a multi-step operation, with strand tests and color check-ins throughout, and variables like your hair's color history, damage level, texture and current shade, could mean extra treatments and time to get you there.

"The initial process is time consuming and pricey," warns Haight. "You have to be willing to commit to four to 10 consecutive hours at the salon."

People with "virgin" hair, meaning it hasn't been touched by any chemicals, period, as well as those with strong, healthy blonde hair, can usually achieve their platinum hair in one very long sitting, according to Haight, while brunettes or serial-dyers first need to undergo a color remover treatment to strip out "any excess color that's built up on the hair over time" followed by a test swath of bleach to see how the hair responds and lightens, the stylist explains.

To prevent hair breakage and damage, most colorists will spread processes over a period of several days, Haight says, in order for "the hair to regain strength after each color service."

For Lee's clients, delayed gratification is the norm, thanks to her "slow and steady" platinum philosophy. "Typically when going platinum, you can expect it to take at least three appointments to get the shade as bright as you want it to be," she says.

Pro tip: Like Lee, always make sure that the between-appointment color is "wearable" so you don't give scarecrow vibes until your next session.

How to Bleach Your Hair At Home

While it's ideal to get your hair bleached by a trained colorist at a salon, it is possible to DIY blonde hair at home. Here, colorists share their tips.

"All hair types can be bleached at home, but you must always do a strand test to make sure your hair is strong enough to be bleached and to see how well your hair lifts," says Alex Brownsell, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Bleach London.

Just keep in mind that depending on the base color you're starting with, you might not be able to go platinum on your first try. "If your hair is very dark you may need to go for a warmer blonde or a copper before you get to your goal blonde," Brownsell shares. "This doesn't mean it went wrong, it's just the safe amount of lift your hair can take at this time."

  • Ensure you have enough hair dye: Depending on the density and length of your hair, you may need multiple kits in order to bleach your hair. For example, Brownsell says Bleach London's kit covers 1 inch of roots and medium density hair. If you have long or thick hair, you may need two kits.
  • Start at the mid-lengths to ends: "Virgin bleach application should stay 1/2 inch away from the roots," says George Papanikolas, Matrix Brand Ambassador. "This is because the heat from your scalp will activate the bleach faster than the hair further away from the head. Once the hair is lifted to yellow, then you can go back and apply the bleach to the roots."
  • Smoosh the bleach into your ends: Brownsell says to gently smoosh the bleach into your lengths and ends. This will ensure strands get coated evenly.
  • Let the bleach process: "Let the bleach develop on the mid-lengths and ends for 20-40 minutes or until the hair has visibly lightened," Brownsell says.
  • Apply the bleach to your roots: When you go into your roots, Papanikolas suggests lifting the hair until it's the color of a banana.
  • Shampoo hair: Once the bleach has fully set, rinse it out and shampoo the hair.
  • Apply toner: A toner will neutralize any brassiness and balance your newly-bleached hair. "Centre-part your towel dried hair and apply the toner mixture to the warmest/yellowest bits of your bleached hair first, then do the rest," Brownsell says. Don't forget to smoosh the mid-lengths to ends to saturate the hair. Let the toner set for 20 minutes.
  • Shampoo and condition hair: Rinse, shampoo, and condition hair. You may opt to use a silver or purple shampoo for an extra icy finish.

If you do end up running into trouble while bleaching your hair at home, it's best to consult with a colorist rather than attempting to fix it yourself. "If it's too yellow or orange, it will require more bleaching. If it is uneven because of a sloppy or uneven application, it will be very difficult to fix without going darker," Papanikolas shares.

How to Touch Up Your Roots

"Hair typically grows a half-inch per month," says Lee, who strongly recommends a root touch-up at four to six weeks. "You will also need to invest in all the proper home care. Adding a water filter to your shower is key to eliminating brassiness." Lee's favorite shower filter is the Raindrops Shower Filter.

Be forewarned that if you push your root touch up beyond six weeks, it "will become very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve that cool, toned blonde most double processes aspire to have," says Haight.

VIDEO: Hair Colors That Experts Say Will Be Everywhere in 2022

How to Care for Bleached Hair

Get ready to make tending to your bleached hair your new favorite hobby, because the maintenance here is no joke. After the appointment wraps, most colorists send clients home with a color-safe shampoo and conditioning mask in hand, along with a brand new haircare routine and instructions.

"After hair is bleached, the most important thing is to treat the hair and strengthen the hair bonds that have become weakened through chemical processing," Papanikolas says. "Matrix Unbreak My Blonde collection is a three-part system that strengthens, nourishes, revives and leaves hair three times stronger after lightening, highlights or any in-salon chemical service."

Washing your hair too often can cause further dryness and it can get brittle. Haight recommends washing your hair once or twice a week at most. A purple shampoo can also come in handy to help cut out brassiness and dullness.

"Maintain your blonde mane with Bleach London Silver Shampoo and Conditioner every other wash if you want to keep it on the icy side," Brownsell suggests. "To keep a little warmth in and add a luscious, pearly shine with Bleach London Pearlescent Shampoo and Conditioner."

The bottom line? When it comes to platinum hair, don't forget the golden rule: If you pamper, you will prevail.

Updated by
Erin Lukas

Erin is a Brooklyn-based beauty editor and has been with InStyle since 2016. She covers all facets of beauty for the site.

Related Articles