I recently swapped my creamy blonde locks for a rich, brunette hue and if I could sum the experience up in three words, it would be: it’s not easy. From making the final decision to take the plunge (much to my hairdresser’s dismay), to dealing with fading and also learning the tricks of the trade for proper maintenance, I have built a wealth of knowledge that I must share with you, my like-minded beauties.
#1 It’s a tough decision
Before I moved over to the dark side, I spent several weeks umming and ahhing over whether I should make the change. Will brown hair suit me? Will I miss my blonde locks? What shade should I go?
Janelle Dongalen, Technical Director from Aveda Salons, stresses the importance of inspiration. “Always have a pin board on either Pinterest or a small amount of hair colour pictures that you aspire to.” Doing so not only gives you the opportunity to work out what you really want, but also ensures you and your hairstylist are on the same page.
Cost, maintenance and how often you change your hair should also be kept in mind when making the dramatic change. Janelle explains, “It’s not an easy step to lighten the dark [colour] back out.” So if you like to chop and change your colour often, perhaps opt for lowlights instead.
#2 There’s a shade for everybody
No matter your skin tone, there’s a brunette hue out there for you. Aleks Abadia, Co-Founder and Hair Director at Esstudio Galleria explains, “Fair skin will suit slightly warmer tones, while people with a darker complexion will suit ashier tones.”
Similarly, your hair type should influence your colour. “Depending on the desired effect, a block colour will be a solid rich tone great for fine hair… and on most people it can bring out your best features: eyes, skin colour. If you have thick hair, a highlighted shade will create dimension and texture,” says Aleks.
#3 It’s a process
“There are three stages to achieve going blonde to brunette,” says Aleks. “The hair must be filled, then a double application of the desired result will help with fading issues.” Chances are, you’ll have to book in another appointment with your stylist to retouch and regloss.
#4 It’s going to fade
When I first took the plunge, my hair became a slightly lighter shade of brown with every wash. After just a few weeks, my ‘do was less Bella Hadid and more Gisele Bündchen. So is this normal?
Fading is unavoidable, but as Janelle explains, proper practice can ensure your colour stays fresher for longer.
She says, “Colour fades due to poor hair colouring application, washing your hair every day, by not using the appropriate haircare and hair treatment masque, as well as mechanical damage such as ironing hair every day and blow-drying.”
#5 The health of your locks is key
If your hair is dry, it will be more prone to fading. “You will need to rebook back in with your stylist for a second round of glossing, [because] if your hair was dry to begin with then it won’t hold onto the first colour.”
If this sounds like you, then opt for a rich, block colour. “Going for a block colour will give you instant shine, thickness and… most importantly your hair doesn’t look as dry if it was dry to begin with.”
#6 It requires maintenance
To prevent fading and to keep your locks looking salon fresh, you’ve got to put in work. Limit the amount of times you wash your hair each week, keep blow-drying and straightening to a minimum and use professionally prescribed haircare for best results. Janelle recommends using a moisturising mask weekly, and leaving it on for 10 minutes. Pigmented products are a must-have too. “Purchase a colour mousse or brown pigmented conditioner to refresh the colour at home,” she suggests.