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Going Up and Growing Out: How to go Blonde without Ruining your Length

I’ve always been something of a colour chameleon. From the moment I got my first whiff of peroxide, my hair has been red, blonde, black, and every shade in between. I was born with a mop of wild black hair and I grew up envying my more melanin-diverse classmates and relatives. As a kid, I dreamed of being a red-head. None of my friends had the exact shade of bright copper I coveted so I’m not quite sure where this dream was born, but it lasted until my parents allowed me some thick, 90’s-style copper striped highlights. I spent most of my teen and young-adult life in varying shades of red from copper to ruby to strawberry. In the years since I’ve written this blog alone, I’ve been different shades of blonde, violet, blue, lavender, red, and black. But I’ve been wearing my hair naturally for the better part of six months–needless to say, I’m getting bored!

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My problem is, I’ve also been working on growing out a pixie. Keeping my hair colour-free is excellent for its strength and health while it gains some length, but I’ve never been a fan of my natural shade. I’ve also been dreaming (literally!) of going blonde again… so what’s a girl to do? Can you still colour your hair without growth-hindering damage?

From L'Oreal Professionnel's SS13 Collection

From L’Oreal Professionnel’s SS13 Collection

When you’re taking your hair to and from drastically different colours, there are some things you need to consider. First, think about what you have in mind. Is it darker than your current shade? When you go darker, you can use gentler formulas like ammonia-free demi-permanents that won’t cause as much trauma to the cuticle, the layer of your hair that keeps it soft and shiny. If you’re going lighter, is your hair previously coloured? Remember, colour won’t lift colour so you’ll have to bleach out your last shade before attempting your new, lighter one. I highly recommend you see a professional to bleach out old colour–there are too many variables to account for at home, such as the level of pigment your hair needs to retain for your new colour, the amount of damage the strand can take, and the pigments used to create your last shade: some contain compounds that cannot be bleached, and could injure you if attempt it.

Goldwell ColorZoom 2013

Goldwell ColorZoom 2013

If you’re working with your natural colour, think about how much lighter you’re aiming to go. Pros work on a level system, calculating the lightness of a shade on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 is the darkest, while 10 is a platinum blonde. It’s generally accepted that you can lift two to three levels with permanent haircolour, so if you’re only looking to up your shade by a little bit or just want to change the tone of your hair, permanent colour will probably do the trick. But in my case, I’m looking at a natural black around a level 2. The sandy blonde I’m coveting is probably a level 8 or 9, which means there are some six levels I need to lighten. This leaves me two choices.

The first choice I have is to bleach my entire head. Bleach is very harsh on hair, even if you’re using a cream or oil bleach formulated for use on the scalp. I’ve bleached from dark shades to platinum in the past, but unless you’re willing to get a “chemical haircut,” I don’t recommend it. It’s less traumatic to the hair to bleach up a few levels at a time, taking the time to condition and treat the hair in between.

The second choice is to highlight, highlight, highlight. If you’re not willing to subject your head to all-out bleaching, it can be easier to select a complimentary base and then add highlights of the desired colour. While you’re still using bleach to create the highlights, less hair is being exposed to the caustic chemicals it takes to see results. It’s also a more natural progression: going from dark to light overnight can be jarring. Regardless of how badly you want it, seeing that newly dyed hair in the mirror the next morning is a shocking and surreal experience. Lightening a few shades and foiling in highlights a little at a time will not only save you that morning-after shock, it can also save you some damage with proper treatment and care in between.  I recommend regular use of good quality conditioning products and hair masks to everyone, but it’s particularly important for chemical junkies and ladies growing length.

Wella TrendVision 2013, "Fusion"

Wella TrendVision 2013, “Fusion”

While I’d love to wake up tomorrow with a perfectly coloured, silky-smoothe blonde mane, but   that’s just a dream. If I want to continue growing out my cut, my best bet is to gradually colour up: select a workable base and gradually highlight towards my ultimate goal. Staying within my desired tonal range will keep me from getting discouraged, and keeping my hair in the best shape possible will keep me on track with my length. I’d still like to grow a few inches before putting dye-to-scalp, but at this rate that won’t be long at all!

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Love Lists

Obsession: Pastel Nails

You're My Obsession

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When I was younger, nail polish was just for special occasions. I was a chronic nail-biter and even the most chip-proof formula lasted less than a day on my nervous little fingers, so decorating my nails was reserved for things like holidays or school shows. Even in adulthood, I’ve held jobs that have required me to keep my nails clean and trimmed short. I’d paint them on weekends or holidays, quickly removing it all on my way into work. While no longer a social taboo, the polish-deprived child in me usually gravitated towards forbidden, blackened shades of purple, blue, or greens–shades so dark they appeared black indoors. But as I began to paint my nails more and more, I’ve found I have an almost magnetic attraction towards pastels.

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I love a good gold in the summer or a seductive plum for fall, but in the late winter and into the spring, nothing strikes me quite like a creamy pastel. I’m hopelessly addicted to seafoams and minty greens, and over the years I’ve amassed an arsenal of sky blues and lavenders, but my collection is sprinkled with milky pinks and petal yellows as well. Little Me might have thought that a dark vampy nail was the ultimate eye-catcher, but I’ve come to realize that pastel nails can make a subtler, but still equally effective statement.

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(1) MAC Mischievous Mint is a soft blue-green mint cream, originally released with 2011’s Spring collection, Quite Cute–it’s been discontinued, but you can still find a bottle here and there online. (2) Julep Renee is the exactly blued-lavender of spring lilacs, while (3) Zoya Marley is slightly more pink-toned and boasts a subtle silver shimmer. (4) Julep Jessica is one of the palest sky blues I’ve ever seen, without a single trace of grey in the formula. (5) Zoya Dove is a true, neutral grey soft enough to feel pastel. (6) Polishes like Julep Emmanuelle are few and far between in my collection–while it appears to be a nude in the bottle, it wears as a pastel peach-pink jelly that’s surprisingly fun. (7) Orly Lemonade is the perfect lemon-sorbet yellow, nearly as much of a statement as (8) Rainbow Honey Pinky Promiseand ice-cream pink filled with confetti-coloured glitter.

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In the midst of winter storms and barren landscapes and sub-zero temperatures, I used Julep Renee to brighten my mood. There’s something simultaneously soothing and invigorating about the perfect lavender cream, conjuring up images of relaxing herbal bouquets and exotic gourmet pastries. Each time I look down, I can’t help but smile at the delicate lilac shade of my nails–in a season of SAD and cabin fever, what more could you ask of an accessory?

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Cosmetics, Love Lists

Metamorphosis 52.0 – Creme de Menthe, a minty-green love list!

Every few weeks or so, I come down with some sort of colour-bug. Certain colours stick in my head and I just can’t get enough of them. These past few weeks it’s been mint green. In all honesty, mint has always been one of my favourite colours. I think my synesthesia is partially to blame, but the creamy, soft texture of mint has always struck a chord with me. (In fact, “Menthe” was an early web-moniker of mine.) But for Spring, it’s really hard for me to pin-point a better colour: it’s fresh, it’s delicate, and it goes well with everything. Lately, I’ve been pairing it with lilacs and corals.

Here are some of my favourite mint-coloured products at the moment. Full reviews of these products are forthcoming, I promise!

Shiro CosmeticsKawaii Shadow in Banzai is a very pale mint green with strong blue tones. The satin texture makes it perfect for highlighting or as a base for darker shadows. It’s fairly opaque on its own though it can be built up or blended out. I’ve been using this in the inner corners of my eyes for a bright pop of minty colour!

Evil ShadesFaerie Garden is a slightly darker green, more of a fresh mint than a creme-de-menthe. On site, it’s described as “primary green with golden shimmer,” but I’d say it’s a slightly blue-toned green with a shimmery finish. I usually pat this on my lid with a flat brush for a sweet, herbal green base.

I’ve really never been a body-shimmer type of girl, but I’ve really been loving Meow CosmeticsWildcats powder in Jungle Cat. I was obviously hesitant when I ordered a green body-powder, but it blends beautifully to the barest, palest minty sparkle. Like mint frosting for your skin! I use a large, flexible Taklon kabuki brush to dust this powder over my chest, shoulders, cheekbones, and brows for a very subtle highlighting effect. (It also works nicely mixed into a pump of body lotion or sunblock!)

I have to admit, I haven’t yet had a chance to wear Lime Crime‘s Mint to Be lipstick out of the house yet! Of course as soon as it arrived, I ripped it open and slathered it on, but I just haven’t had an appropriate occasion for it otherwise. Like most of the reformulated Lime Crime lipsticks, this is perfectly opaque and creamy when properly applied. I suggest covering your natural lip colour for truest-green results.

For a little bit of not-quite-swatchy fun, this is a shot of my pigment-encrusted hand after opening up and fiddling with all the jars for these shots. You can see quite a bit of Jungle Cat on my fingers and a bit of Faerie Garden on my palm.

Obviously, wearing all these beautiful minty products together might be a little green-overkill. As I said above, they pair beautifully with lilacs and lavenders (like Sugarpill’s Paperdoll or Weekender), peaches and corals (like Morgana Cryptoria’s Peach Daiquiri and Evil Shade’s Faerie Kisses), even bubblegum pinks (like Sugarpill’s Birthday Girl).

What colours are you loving for Spring?

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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