I'm a natural brunette, but a couple of years ago, I decided to go blonde (much to my mama's disproval — "the upkeep! the cost!"). I only do highlights, never a base, and I've only done balayage because it's better for my hair and allows for a more natural grow out. But even still, every 12 weeks like clockwork, the dark roots start to peep their little heads out, and into the salon I'd go and it made me wonder: how is one supposed to maintain highlights between salon visits!?
After a while, life started to get busier: I was traveling a lot, I moved to New York City, I started graduate school and a new job, and hair maintenance became the least of my priorities. Not only did I not have the time to sit for two hours in a salon, but I was also afraid to part from my colorist (he always nailed the perfect shade of blonde for my coloring) and let someone new touch my tresses. So that meant waiting until I flew home to visit, which pretty much happened twice a year: Christmas, and summer. It's safe to say my roots have more than peeped out by this point.
Luckily, grown-out highlights is sort of in right now. More and more celebrities are ditching to-the-root highlights, including one of the most iconic blondes, Blake Lively, who kept her dark roots even after giving birth. So I'm on trend, or something like that.
But waiting six (six!) months in between highlights isn't an easy feat, and even if you can tolerate the dark roots (I actually prefer the more natural look), you still aren't in the clear, because those existing highlights can and will turn brassy with that much time in between salon visits. Here's a few tips and tricks, both from personal experience and talking with a colorist, to ward off the brassy, orange tones and help keep your blonde bright, vibrant, and beautiful — even if you go half a year between visits!
1. Stop Washing Your Hair
I'm not shy about the fact that I only wash my hair once a week. Shampoo and harsh chemicals in tap water can cause your color to change, so the best solution? Don't wash it as much!
2. Cold Water Is Your Friend
Hot water is notoriously bad for your hair. Cold water helps preserve color, and bonus, it seals the hair follicle and prevents frizz, leaving it shiny.
"Use a purple shampoo, such as Clairol Shimmer Lights, and leave it on for five minutes," says celebrity colorist Dani Hernandez from the Jonathan and George Salon in Los Angeles. These shampoos refresh faded highlights by distributing purple pigment to neutralize brassiness. Disclaimer: don't use this more than every other week because it will dry your hair out and leave it feeling a tad bit brittle. I generally use it once a month, maybe every 2-3 weeks if it's really necessary. And always use it in conjunction with a deep conditioner.
4. Put On A Hat
This one is obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people forget about it because it's so simple. Sun exposure, in addition to aging you, will cause your blonde to turn yellow/orange. If you plan to spend excessive time in the sun, playing a sport outside, tanning, or going to an outdoor event, throw on a hat. Wrap a scarf around your head. Just do something to keep your hair away from the suns harmful rays.
Whenever I use dry shampoo to extend my washes, I always notice it somehow tones down the yellow tones in my hair. A buildup of oil and dirt can definitely cause color to look funky, so spritz some dry shampoo all over when your color starts feeling lackluster.
Put down the Moroccan oil. Oils that are yellow or orange in color can and will, with repeated use, turn your highlights, guess what color? Exactly, yellow and orange! If you need to use an oil on your hair, opt for coconut oil or pure argan oil. Anything that is clear is a-OK!
Images: Getty Images; Giphy; Amazon; Sienna Fantozzi