How to Go Blonde the RIGHT Way

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If you have dark hair, you don't have to feel intimidated about trying a sun-kissed color; there is a way to go light that won't destory your strands and leave you with a miscolored mess on your head. Just follow these tips from Sally Hershberger stylist Lucille Javier, who specializes in hair-color transformations.

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Don’t Try This at Home

First things first: Leave the drastic color changes to the professionals. “It takes a lot of training to do it right,” says Javier. “You could lose a good amount of hair and ruin your hair completely." Plus, at-home dyes don’t have the strength of ones available at salons, anyway. “You have to be a professional to use hard-core lightening products,” says Javier. And take note: If you already color your hair on the regular, Javier doesn’t recommend going blonde since you’ll just be piling on the damage (previously colored hair will need to be stripped out with bleach or a similar lightener first).

RELATED: Here’s When At-Home Dye Is a Good Option—and When It Isn’t

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Lighten Your Hair in Stages

If you want a lighter look, it’s best to lift the color in increments, says Javier, who notes that this could take up to four sessions, depending on the hue you’re going for and the damage that that could cause to your strands. If your hair is in very healthy condition, Javier says you can get away with getting your desired blonde shade in one appointment. In that case, expect to be in the salon for seven to eight hours.

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Make Sure You’ve Moisturized Before Leaving the Salon

Javier does a variation of masks and treatments before a client leaves the salon. First, she uses a new bonding agent called Olaplex after the hair has been bleached to fill in any damaging holes in the hair strand. She follows this with a gloss (which adds shine) and a hair mask that she leaves on for 30 minutes to an hour. “I want to make sure the hair is soft and hydrated before the client leaves," says Javier.

RELATED: 11 Ways to Use Honey to Get More Gorgeous Skin, Hair, and Nails

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Keep Up the Good Work at Home

"The first week, you have to acknowledge that you just stripped the hair of all its natural pigment,” says Javier, so “hydrating the hair is the most important thing." She suggests nourishing your strands regularly with masks and oils. Javier likes Shu Umuera Essence Absolute Nourishing Protective Oil ($69, birchbox.com) because it absorbs into the hair without feeling greasy.

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Be Very Gentle in the Shower

"I always educate [clients] on how to take care of their hair before they leave the salon," says Javier, who recommends using a professional shampoo and conditioner that are both color-safe to protect your new color. And when you shampoo, remember to be gentle. After you hop out of the shower, pat your hair dry and don’t excessively scrub with a towel, which can cause breakage, says Javier. Then spritz a leave-in conditioner, such as Sally Hershberger Keratin RX Spray ($24, sallyhershberger.com) and brush through with a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair, she says.

RELATED: Should You Be Using a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

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Prep Your Strands Before You Swim

Your new color doesn’t stand a chance against chlorine. If you’re getting your hair colored in the summer, take a shower before you jump into the pool, apply a color-safe conditioner (don't rinse it out), and throw your hair into a bun. Hair is porous, so the more moisture you slather on, the more you fill up the holes where chlorine could get in. You'll thank us when your hair isn't a tangled mess (or green). 

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Prepare to Get Friendly With Your Stylist

You’re about to see a lot of each other since a bold blonde hue requires a lot of in-salon upkeep. "I become good friends with my clients after a transformation," says Javier, who sees them every two weeks for a gloss, every four to five weeks for retouches, and sometimes even more often for a repairing hair mask in between appointments.

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