By stylist and host of web series WhateverOrs Orsolya Szabo
Once upon a time, I was a die-hard brunette. The hard core 'I'll never be blonde' type. I had never dyed my hair. Solidarity amongst my brunette sisters was strong...unless they were chopping and changing wigs, 'going blonde' felt like a bit of a betrayal.
And yet here I am, brown roots with grey blue hair, and I'm kind of feeling it. I'd love to be able claim it involved a big existential realisation - everything is meaningless so I may as well go through all the hair colours under the sun; or that it was a statement on the strength in choices as an empowered female (and wait, I'll get to that bit) but initially.. I put a blonde Simone Rocha brooch on my head that looked like a wig (really) and liked how it looked (it looks like it's my hair, not as absurd as it sounds, see below.) I've never received more clapping hand emojis so I figured it couldn't look too bad. Then I forgot about it.. Until I got dumped and everything had to change.
Suddenly my hair felt drab, exhausted. I didn't care about consequences or 'it looks nice now, why change it'. I wanted to do something borderline reckless (I did say borderline). I wanted to evolve in some way, or at least (subconsciously) make a statement of change and power. Making a bold decision felt like a power move, taking control of things and going blonde was the start. I decided I wanted to be an ashy white blonde blonde, and move to bluey grey as soon as my angel of a hairdresser would let me.
The angel in question was Samantha Cusick who instantly understood what I wanted. She was at the Taylor Taylor salon in portobello at the time but has just set up her own salon. We spoke about it, deliberated, then the whole process took about 4.5 hours. She told me about the importance of Olaplex (a protein based treatment and basically crack for coloured hair) and as my hair isn't the thickest, she put a treatment on before and after the bleach. Then after the bleach came toner, shampoo,conditioner and more Olaplex. The toner sets the ashier colour after the blonde so it's also this that then made me grey.
But first - I was suddenly blonde. I did it at the height of summer, I'm olive skinned so it felt right. I felt lighter, sun kissed, and... didn't recognise myself in mirrors for about a week. I forgot people were not looking at the old me anymore, inside I was screaming 'I'm brunette really!!' yet staring back was someone very blonde. People kept saying blondes get more attention in public (I didn't) but I feel like people responded to the significance and representation of such a change. Boys I hadn't spoken to in years were suddenly finding my number again, one went into a very detailed (unprompted) description on why he thinks blonde suits me more (based on hues and tones) Meanwhile my girl friends were either genuinely into it, or thought I shouldn't have taken such a plunge but didn't say.
After being blonde for a week or so I transitioned to a grey-blue. Someone commented it felt more natural on me than blonde. I preferred the tone of bluey grey. It suited my skin tone better and it felt different. Someone said I looked like Storm from X Men. I realised I looked great in camel. But lots of clothes suddenly didn't look so good and other colours significantly better.
And I liked how it changed every time I washed it, like a little hair wash surprise. It became more and more grey (I recently saw me in a blog post and the comment was 'granny hair yeah'.
And now? Well upkeep is intense. I think I hassle Sam for needy top ups probably more than she would like. Because hair grows, toner fades and keeping blonde or grey hair looking expense is a lengthy and committed process. I was meant to put an Olaplex treatment on it once a week after it was first done, but I was travelling a lot and I didn't, which has caused a bit of breakage. I've had to cut it anyway (and I prefer how it looks shorter now it's coloured) but having thin hair to start with means you'll need to put in a lot of love if you're going to take the plunge. I'm now religious with Olaplex and Davines conditioners to keep my hair soft and smelling pretty incredible.
I've also crossed into the realm of finding the holy grail of purpleshampoo (L'Oreal is pretty good, Fudge Clean Blonde is so purple it made the almost washed out toner in my hair magically return).
I'm at a bit of a cross roads with the colour at the moment mainly because of the upkeep. If I don't do my roots then I'll probably have to dye it all brown and I'm not quite ready for that yet. The truth is I like having hair that's a pastel tone. I like how it's different and it softens the often all black I tend to wear. Oddly it also feels less sexy which I find weirdly liberating, like the unnatural colour makes it cool, and steers it away from any social obligations to be conventionally sexy.
All in all I would say get a good hairdresser you like and happy to keep seeing a lot, and look after your hair in between it being in their capable hands. I may just stay grey for a little longer - and at least now I'm not dreading actually going grey when I'm older.
Samantha Cusick, 284 Westbourne Park road, 0207 221 2227