First of all, if you don’t know who Storm is, shame on you. Here’s a picture for reference and my photo underneath for comparison:
Close enough. Where do I even begin? Well, here are some typical questions people ask when they first see my hair, after eyes widening:
- Why did I decide to do it?
- Where did you do it and how much was it?!
- How long did it take you to get to the colour you’re at now?
- How do you upkeep this hot mess?
- How long are you going to keep it at this colour?
If you’re interested in any of the questions above, then scroll directly to where I answer it below.
1. Why did I decide to do it?
I’ve always wanted to bleach my hair and go full platinum blonde/white; I’ve always wondered how my face would look with gray/white hair. I actually bleached my whole head back in January in New York when I was getting a balayage but ended up really liking the colour from the first bleaching session. But because my goal at the time was a balayage, I ended up going darker than expected. This pretty much was me chickening out from going all the way to white. This past April, I went back to the same salon in New York City and decided to just go all the way to the white/gray shown in the above photo. I also didn’t know when would be a better time to try this than now when I’m still young and my scalp is still somewhat healthy. Not to mention, it looks crazy cool on Instagram!
2. Where did you do it and how much was it?!
When I visited NYC for New Years 2017, I wanted to do something with my hair that was getting too long. I found @ The Salon in East Village, NYC, by yelping and after looking at their photos, I decided to try this place out (they also have 20% off for new customers, I love a good deal). I got booked with Steve and while I didn’t know it at the time, he was the mastermind (masterhands?) behind many of the Yelp photos. Fast forward to April, I’m back in NYC again and trusted him to take my hair delicately to white/gray. The whole process (2 bleaching sessions + toner + wash/dry/style) only cost me around $300 USD before tips.
3. How long did it take you to get to the colour you’re at now?
My appointment took an entire afternoon, from 2PM to 7PM (I felt bad for Steve having to deal with my hair for so long, the sun was down when I left the salon :P), and we were pretty much the only people left in the salon. Great hair definitely takes time. I also wanted to get it all done in one day so I don’t spend any more days on my hair while I was on vacation… My scalp was fine the first 2 bleaches but was definitely burning after the toner because the toner also had lifting chemicals to bring my colour even lighter. Though my scalp was screaming for help, I really appreciated the time and care Steve took with my hair, he ensured the result was something I really liked and felt confident in, while being delicate with my mane. I didn’t think the price was expensive at all for what I got and for the treatment I received, I would highly recommend this place and ask for Steve if you’re in the area!
This was what my hair looked like right after that long, tiresome 5 hours in the salon, SO WORTH and exactly what I wanted. My hair looks fairly healthy too, on camera. 😛 My Instagram also shows a pretty good evolution of my Storm-like white hair.
4. How do you upkeep this hot mess? (Probably the longest section, be warned)
I knew that this kind of hair faded fast, especially when your natural colour is dark, but I just didn’t know HOW fast. Soon after this day, my hair pretty much changed colours everyday. Depending on the sun (sun bleaches the hair too), the angles, and shadows, for some reason, my hair looked different EVERYDAY. The amount of effort went into taking care of this mane was/is enough to bankrupt me.
First of all, there are so many purple shampoos out there (a special kind of shampoo that dulls away the brassiness that results when the toner fades; Asian hair tends to turn brassy after bleaching anyways) that it’s literally impossible/expensive to try and know which one suits you the best. After reading numerous reviews online, I gave up and just listened to what specialists recommended. A hair stylist in Vancouver recommend me a shampoo (Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel Wash) and conditioner (Davines Alchemic Conditioner Silver) with the darkest shades of purple, so when you use it in conjunction, it works best to take away the brassy yellow colours. These two products cost me ~$75 (tear). My hair was getting dull at this point (~3 weeks after appointment) so when I used these two products together, I saw instant results after one wash. I left both on my hair for a while before rinsing and you could tell the hair was whiter again and brighter. The shampoo smelled great while the conditioner was a bit more chemical-smelling.
Steve recommended that I also invest in a good protein hair mask. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HAIR MASKS WERE A THING, but apparently they are so real and so helpful. He recommended the Moroccan Oil Restorative Hair Mask, for damaged and bleached hair, to nourish it (hopefully) back to its former self. This product is also pretty pricey, I bought the 250ML one for around ~$40. It is pretty big and you only use it every 2 weeks until your hair feels normal again so it will probably take me a long time to finish it. You apply it to your hair post-shampooing and towel drying and leave it in for 20-30mins before rinsing (I wear a plastic bag on my head when I do this), then you towel dry again and use your preferred conditioner. Several stylists also mentioned that if you use this mask too much, it might swing your hair the other way and actually make it more brittle (WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!).
I’ve been using the shampoo and conditioner every time I wash my hair, which is around twice a week, maybe three times if I go to the gym or swim, and the hair mask every 2 weeks when I wash my hair. I try not to wash my hair too often to let the natural oils seep out, and the colour fades more every time I wash so it’s my way of salvaging the colour for longer. The colour hasn’t died on me so far with the exception of my roots growing out; it is still fairly white. Another stylist told me that using purple products every time you wash isn’t so great because purple products can actually dry your hair out, so I always have my handy Costco-sized Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture conditioner ready when I need it. Honestly, if I didn’t have bleached hair, this is my go-to conditioner – it smells great and it leaves my hair feeling silky soft every single time.
Some of my post-shower hair routine include Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair and Pantene Expert Advanced Keratin Repair Split End Fuser. For the first, I run it through and leave in my damp hair if I want to style it later on by curling, as the product helps prevent heat damage. I actually love the Damage Remedy repair very much as I use it before I blow dry and my hair feels great afterwards. For the split end fuser, I just apply it to my split ends when my hair is almost dried, the best thing about this product is that it smells AMAZING. I’m not sure if it actually works though because on the back of the product, it says “hair is mostly keratin”. Coming from a Science background, hair is all just dead keratin so this not-so-scientifically-correct statement from Pantene makes me question the product…
Apart from product usage, I would usually towel dry my hair and proceed to blowdrying it with cold air. Did you also know that bleached hair takes longer to dry because of their lack of ability in taking in heat? This means taking night showers earlier to account for hair drying before sleeping. My usual go-to style is just loose beachy waves, I never like tight curls and I feel like straight just doesn’t do the colour justice. Having a slight wave definitely adds more depth to the colour.
5. How long are you going to keep it at this colour?
The short answer is I don’t know. The long answer is until I am sick of taking care of this, and maybe when I don’t see a point in paying for this anymore… so possibly when my products run out? Until then, I’ll try my best to upkeep this high maintenance mane while continuing to complain about it. If I were to give up, I would probably go for a darker balayage so when the roots grow out, it won’t be a huge difference and therefore, there won’t be an urge to get it touched up quickly. Recently, I went into Brush Salon in Gastown, Vancouver for a touch up of my roots and overall colour, after around 8 weeks since the initial session in April. I’m pretty good at maxing out my time but don’t wait until your roots are around 2 inches to go for touch up… My roots were about an inch and a half when I went in for the touch up. The touch up looks even more amazing, my roots are half a shade darker as per the stylist’s recommendation, to give it more depth and to prevent the colour from washing out my face – it totally works! Some photos below to show you my colour now.
I hope the above long blurb helped/gave you insight into the world of blonde Asian hair. I’m lucky that my hair has been so strong and resilient for me to experiment with it. I’ve definitely heard horror stories of people’s hair frying off as they straighten, blow dry, or curl their hair. So far so good so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
See more hair and follow along my adventures here and let me know what you think / your hair dying journeys below!