"I've made up my mind," I declared back in March while reflecting on a pretty epic haircut that took several inches off my long, damaged hair. "If 2015 was the year that I was perpetually bored, then 2016 is the year of a single haircut that's anything but boring."
The funny thing is that even as I wrote it, I chuckled at my own earnestness and puffed-up conviction. Would I possibly stick with that look for the rest of the year and beyond? Perhaps. But I know myself, and it was far more likely that sometime in the later months of 2016—probably around autumn when the transitioning seasons always give way to a sense of restlessness—I would start feeling the itch to try something different again.
Sure enough, by the time August rolled around, that boredom returned with a vengeance. It didn't help that I had neglected to maintain said haircut whatsoever, and the overgrown bangs and layers felt predictably stale. But really, it was the colour that seemed most overdue for an upgrade, and after nearly a year—I know, a whole 10 months—of a dark brown hue that largely resembled my natural colour, I was ready to do something drastic; to indulge a little wanderlust from myself.
I'd wanted to go pink for years, and it was time to make that happen.
Of course, the more trend-appropriate term is "rose gold," in all its variations. There was the desert-inspired, blonde-tinged copper we saw on Emma Roberts earlier this year. A more pastel variation labelled "quartz pink" has made the rounds on Pinterest, while a washed-out punk-rock take was popular this summer with the cool-girl set on Instagram. I envisioned something in between the latter two: a root-y pale blond with a wash of translucent pink, equal parts pretty and grunge-y.
And so I found myself in a salon chair at L.A.'s It colour destination, Nine Zero One, attempting to explain this rather specific vision. But within five minutes of talking, swatching out shades, and picking tones with my very attentive stylist, Amber, I knew that I wouldn't be settling for anything less than what I hoped for. For one thing, Amber is very much the cool girl herself—we bonded over our Scorpio sisterhood and chatted about her badass plans to buzz off her hair. For another, she had donned rose gold hair to her own wedding.
I was right to assume I was in good hands. Two days and approximately 10 hours in the salon chair later, I got my first glimpse of my newly pinked hair—and it was so on point with what I had envisioned that it almost felt as familiar as it did new.
Slide the tool below to see the before and after, and keep scrolling to see how the whole process went down.
I have the kind of ultra-thick hair that draws exclamations from seasoned professionals and takes a half-hour to simply shampoo and condition, yet I was naive enough to assume that because it's relatively short, my time at the salon would be less extensive than usual. Oh, how wrong I was: All in all, it was a two-day process, and the first alone totalled about seven hours.
After hashing out the details with Amber, she spent the long afternoon taking my very dark hair to a very pale shade of ashy blonde. This was slightly complicated by the fact that while I had several inches of natural roots, below a certain line, my colour was still artificial—which means it processes dye differently than the virgin section. I had also requested dark roots as part of my list of demands, both for the effortless look and the lesser maintenance required. Creating this natural-looking colour fade involved back-combing my roots and then brushing them out again—a fascinating but admittedly painful endeavour. And—cue the praise-hands emoji—I finally got that much-needed trim.
"If anyone asks, tell them it's not finished!" Amber implored as I left the salon, exhausted, a little after 9 p.m. Tomorrow we'd add the rose to the gold. But while she insisted that my newly blonde locks were imperfect, I still craned to catch my reflection in the windows of the darkened storefronts and later, in my rearview mirror. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't revel in the gasps that met me the next morning in the office.
The following afternoon, I met Amber and Nine Zero One co-founders Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee on set at another one of the salon's locations. We'd be documenting the final, colour-defining steps for Nine Zero One's Beauty Coach TV—a video series that educates stylists on techniques and tutorials. The team was kind enough to whip up a teaser just for Byrdie so we could relive the highlights of the final transformation.
Courtesy of Nine Zero One/BCTV
For starters, let me just say that as much as I trusted Amber, I was vaguely alarmed to see the rainbow of dyes that went into my final tint (green?!), which ultimately combined into something that uncannily resembled ketchup. Still, it wouldn't take long for me to see it all come to fruition, especially compared to the previous day's marathon appointment. Within two hours, my hair was dyed and blow-dryed, and I was finally able to take a peek at the final result in the mirror.
Four weeks later, I'm still basking in my new look, even as the pastel pink has given way to a warm, coppery blonde. In my (very amateur) experience, the mark of a great colour job is how well it fades out. Amber gave me an amazing base colour specifically so that this would happen, and I'm really feeling the pink-opalescent colour it's evolved into.
But I'm also definitely not messing around when it comes to maintenance. Because my hair is very prone to dryness to begin with, I learned the hard way when I bleached it last year that going lighter is a slippery slope to irreparable damage. (It's why I cut it all off in the first place.)
Amber sent me home with a large bottle of conditioner mixed with the dye she used, which I've been using to refresh the colour every couple of weeks. In between, I stick with a very gentle, all-natural shampoo. (Reverie's Nude Shampoo, £30, is my current go-to.) When I get out of the shower, I apply copious amounts of Christophe Robin's Lavender Hair Oil (£37) to my strands as well as hair oil on the ends, before letting it all air-dry.
I usually look a tad greasy on the first day, but it can pass for an editorial "wet look," and it kind of works with the whole punk-ish vibe, anyway. By day two, my strands have drunk up all the excess moisture, and I'm left with impossibly silky waves. Apparently finding the best version of my hair texture required bleaching it first—go figure.
I know better now than to make sweeping declarations that I'll stick with this colour forever, but I certainly won't try to downplay how much I love it either. Even if boredom is an eventual inevitability, I've made up my mind again: This is perfect for right now.
What do you think of the transformation? Tell us in the comments below.