Learn how to avoid dryness, dullness, and breakage.

By Kaitlin Clark
Updated May 20, 2020 @ 11:00 am
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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 white hot 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, and all the products your bathroom can handle to keep your strands in formation and hold onto your hue, ahead.

Don’t Skip The Consult

We cannot emphasize this enough: going platinum is a commitment in nearly every way, from the time you’ll spend in your stylist’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.

Prep Your Hair — A Lot

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 #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 sun-drenched 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.

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Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3

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Bumble and bumble. Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer

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Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair!™ Strength + Moisture Leave-In Spray Hair Mask

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Expect Several Appointments

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.

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Everything About Your Hair Will Be Different

Not to be dramatic, but...the bleaching process will fundamentally alter your hair, from root to end.

“Once you remove all the pigment, hair will never be the same until you have new growth,” says blonde colorist visionary Chelsey Pickthorn, founder of Pickthorn Studio. “Bleaching your hair will change the structure and the way it responds to color forever.”

A fresh double-process is a totally different head of hair that goes way beyond color. Texture-wise, platinum hair will feel different, especially if your hair is on the curly spectrum, but coarse-feeling strands can be softened with conditioning masks and oil treatments, says Haight.

“Platinum hair is very sensitive and it must be treated like your finest handbag,” says Pickthorn. “You don’t put it on the ground, you polish and treat it with respect. I always stress the responsibility it takes to take exceptional care of platinum hair. It requires more work than many people are willing and able to devote.”

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MoroccanOil Intense Hydrating Mask

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Color Your Roots Consistently

“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.

Take Aftercare Seriously

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 stylists send clients home with a color-safe shampoo and conditioning mask in hand, along with a brand new haircare routine and instructions.

“If you are not up for caring for the hair, the quality will fail and there is generally no return when damage is done,” warns Pickthorn, who advises her clients to switch to a silk pillowcase and scrunchie, limit heat styling, and religiously mask their hair at least once a week for damage-control.

“Washing your hair too often causes it to dry out and become very brittle,” says Haight, who recommends washing twice a week at most.

But there is an upside to all this: bleached hair doesn’t get greasy and dirty the same way virgin hair does, so it should be pretty easy to go a week without washing, especially with some colorless dry shampoo.

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Christophe Robin Antioxidant Cleansing Milk for Highlighted or Bleached Hair

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Shu Uemura Silk Bloom Restorative Treatment- For Damaged Hair

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Bumble and bumble. Prêt-à-Powder Dry Shampoo Powder

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“I tell my clients to get creative with different hair styles while they are platinum,” suggests Haight. “Wearing braids, ponytails, buns and hair accessories are all ways to buy you time in between washes without looking like you have dirty hair.”

When it comes to platinum hair, don’t forget the golden rule: If you pamper, you will prevail.