Here’s How to Take the Platinum Plunge (If You’re a Black Woman)

What doesn't kill you makes you blonder.

After many years of testing the waters with a butter blonde ombre ‘do, I first went fully platinum and took the platinum plunge in February of 2016. While I definitely consider it one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, it’s taken (frustratingly) a significant amount of time and money to get to a place where I feel like I’ve finally gotten the entire aftercare process down pat. 

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers. Over the last three years, I’ve spent over $5000 having my hair professionally bleached twelve times, and, after each double-process, my color is lifted twelve levels. Also, I’ve used over 150 bottles of product, cut roughly 48 inches of hair, lost countless strands to shedding, and experienced more breakage than I care to admit. 

Even still, I’ve come down with a serious case of blonde fever and I’ve committed to being a (bottle) blonde bombshell for life. You, too? Learn from my mistakes. Below are my top tips on how to ensure your fresh flaxen edges continue to flourish—while tapping into your inner blonde bombshell.

1. Always Color Match

First things first: get ready for the shock factor. Not everyone is used to seeing Black women with blonde hair in everyday settings, so head-turning stares will come with the territory once you do take the platinum plunge.

With that said, know that blonde hair looks good on everyone (and don’t let anyone tell you anything different). You just have to find the right blonde for you. Your ideal shade of blonde is not dictated by your race or even your skin tone; it’s actually your skin’s undertone that matters the most. 

If your undertone is cool, ashy colors like champagne, silver, and beige will look best on you. If your undertone is warm, golden hues like butter, honey, and caramel will best complement your complexion. And if your undertones are neutral (like me!), absolutely anything goes, which is why I rock an icy platinum shade with ease.

2. Embrace Your New Texture

Every 12 weeks like clockwork, I walk into the salon with at least three inches of 4C new growth. Then, like magic, I walk out three hours later with a head full of 3C/4A corkscrew coils. (As you may know, the bleaching process is absurdly harsh on kinky hair types as it significantly alters the molecular structure of your hair fiber, ultimately loosening the curl pattern.)

I actively avoid all heat-styling tools for at least a week after my color appointment. Since my strands are in an incredibly fragile state in the days just after they’re bleached, blow dryers, flat irons, curling wands etc., are completely off limits—I can’t risk any further damage. (Besides, we should all embrace the air-dried ‘au naturel’ look with pride.)

3. My Cleanser/Conditioner Combo

Bleached blonde hair is incredibly dry, so overwashing is a no-no. Once a week, I cleanse with a sulfate-free shampoo (like the Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Milk & White Jasmine Sulfate Free Shampoo), because it doesn’t strip my strands of what little natural moisture it has left. 

And since bleached blonde hair is highly porous and extremely prone to brittleness and breakage, it needs all the moisture it can get. I never skip my weekly deep conditioning sessions; a nourishing, protein-rich mask (like the Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque) is the intensive treatment my hair is always so desperate for.

4. Battle the Brass

Not-so-fun fact: bleached blonde hair often gets UV damaged (even if you don’t live in a typically sunny locale). For that reason, once a month I’ll switch to a purple shampoo (like the Bed Head By TIGI Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo) to neutralize any brassy-yellow tones that inevitably pop up in-between appointments with my colorist. Why purple? Yellow and violet are opposite to one another on the color wheel, which is why they cancel each other out. Purple shampoo is integral to hair maintenance once one takes the platinum plunge!

 

Pro tip: Apply the toning shampoo to dry strands (it’s far more effective this way than it is on damp hair). 

Another pro tip: Don’t leave these color-correcting products on for longer than 15 minutes each, or you’ll likely overtone and end up with uneven lavender patches that look obviously accidental—not cool and trendy.

5. Mane Maintenance

Even when it’s not wash-day, bleached blonde Afro hair still needs daily TLC. Every morning, I mist my hair with a detangling spray (like the Suave Cream Detangler Spray) to revive and de-frizz my curls. This is especially important because if your hair isn’t properly lubricated before the detangling process, you’ll be more likely to cause breakage. 

Once I’ve fully detangled my strands, I work in a bit of softening curl cream (like the Suave Curl Defining Cream) and a dollop of curl mousse (like the TRESemmé Flawless Curls Extra Hold Mousse) to help my style take shape. This works whether I’m blow-drying for volume, creating waves or rocking braids. 

Three nights a week, I slather a creamy leave-in conditioner (like the Suave Nourish & Strengthen Leave-in Conditioner) in my hair for even more added moisture, before wrapping it in a satin sleep cap for overnight protection. 

6. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blonder

As you can probably tell, living my best blonde life is a full-time job. But I love it so much, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hopefully, you’ve been inspired enough to join me on the lighter side of life and take the platinum plunge!

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