Ready to Return to Your Natural Color?
For many women, changing up the color of their hair is a way to express themselves and feel confident. I was the lead colorist and salon owner of Blonde in Toronto for 15 years, so trust me, I totally get how emotionally connected we are to our blonde hair! I myself have been blonde since 14, I am now 41. My blonde ambitions peaked around the age of 36, and I now have a very rooty balayage, bronde-like color. I am not emotionally ready to identify as a brunette. Whether you have been bleaching your locks for years like me or just started coloring your hair recently, you may find yourself wondering when and if you should return to your natural color. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to ditch the bleach and go back to your roots, read on for some help making that decision.
Signs That It’s Time for a Change
It’s normal for any kind of chemical service like coloring to cause some damage over time, and bleaching is no exception. If you notice that your hair feels more brittle than usual or has become excessively dry, it may be time for a break from the bleach. This doesn’t mean go back to brunette in one visit, maybe just tone down and taper off the bleach so you can stretch out your appointments a bit more without bad roots. Remember, damaged, dry blonde hair is still going to be dry and damaged when it’s brown, so before you commit all the way, be 100% sure! I always asked my clients at Blonde, what color do you see yourself being in 6-12 months? If the answer was blonde, then going back to their natural color was not an option. Getting back to baseline blonde without excessive damage can take years depending on your natural color.
Being blonde is a full time job. Seriously. It takes a lot of commitment and money to maintain it well. For me, my transition to a more natural color happened when I couldn’t keep up with the every 4 week retouches. And then the pandemic really helped me embrace my natural color! If you read my blog on finding the right stylist, you know how important the consultation is. Appointment frequency and cost is often factors for why clients change their mind and want to go back to their natural color. I believe you should know this ahead of going blonde so you can make an educated choice to do it or not in the first place. Life happens though and priorities shift. I have taken some of my die hard blonde clients back to their natural or a slightly enhanced state because they don’t want the maintenance anymore or they need to reevaluate their budget because they are going back to school, laid off or having kids.
If you frequently experience scalp irritation or redness after bleaching, this could indicate that it’s time to give your scalp a rest because you may be triggering an allergy. If you have an allergy, chances are it will get worse each time you are exposed to the allergen, in this case hair bleach. Once you have signs of an allergy, you should go see a doctor and start planning your new look with your stylist if needed once the results are in. Do NOT continue to use bleach or any hair color after you have an allergic reaction- consult with a doctor before you color again!
In general, as long as your hair looks healthy and vibrant with its current color, or has the potential to look better if you changed up your homecare routine with a few new products, then there is no need to worry about transitioning back to your natural color.
How To Make The Transition Back To Your Natural Shade
If you do decide that now is the right time to go natural again, the first step is figuring out what exactly “natural” means in your case. Depending on how long it has been since you last had natural hair color, it can be difficult to remember exactly what shade it was—or even what shade you want it to be! Before making any drastic changes (or spending money on expensive salons), try using an app that shows you what you look like with darker, more natural colors but avoid the ones that alter your face to look like you are totally AI generated. You can also check out a wig shop and take some selfies. Or have your stylist place some swatches (preferably extension swatches because they are longer and realistic) close to your face and the top of your head. I also recommend letting your natural color grow out at least two inches, possibly up to four so see what your true color is and so does your stylist before you make a bold change. Once you have chosen the perfect hue and are ready for a permanent change, consult with your stylist to walk you through the process, duration of the appointment, at home care and follow up appointment details.
The decision of when—and if—to transition back from blonde depends entirely on personal preference. However, bleaching can cause significant damage over time and as we age, our hair is less forgiving. Pay attention to signs of damage- brittleness, dryness and weakness. In my experience, I have access to all the best products and colorists and my hair in my twenties is not as resilient to bleach as it is in my forties and it was the right choice for me to taper off the bleach. If after taking all things into consideration and exploring all options available (treatments, homecare) and going natural still seems like an appealing option, then go ahead and make the plunge! Taking control of whatever new look makes you feel most confident will do wonders not only for your appearance but also for how good you feel each day.