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The Reality of Transitioning from Dark to Blonde

by Mary Kaleta | March 7, 2019
 @marissapusateri
@marissapusateri

You've seen the memes. They point out the potential extreme effects of drastic color changes if done improperly. The process of going from dark to blonde is something influencers and celebrities have made seem so painless and easy that colorists' frustrations with clients wanting one-session results continue to rise.

Pittsburgh colorist Marissa Pusateri @marissapusateri jumped on this trend by posting a color correction that showed the realities of going blonde. The post was so successful, it help her hit the 10,000-follower mark.

"The reason I decided to make the post about the process of going blonde was to educate other stylists and clients about how hard it is to achieve the perfect blonde in one session," Pusateri says. "I wanted my clients to see what the process looks like so they know going into it what to expect. I also wanted to give stylists a visual to show their clients. With Pinterest and these amazing transformations you see on Instagram, it can be difficult to tell your clients that they won't be able to achieve the perfect blonde in one session."

Pusateri says this particular client wanted a dark shadow root into silver blonde all over. They were both aware that achieving the end result would be a process.

"I prepped her hair with three Olaplex treatments (once a month for three months she would come in for just an Olaplex treatment)," Pusateri writes on Instagram. "Once I felt her hair was healthy enough to go forward with bleaching, we started with one session of bleaching. This is a three-hour process of just bleaching+washing+blow drying her hair. Taking extremely thin sections+taking my time applying so I do not overlap and cause breakage on her ends. I was on my client's head for nonstop three hours. I then stopped to take this picture to educate clients+stylists that it’s not easy going from dark to blonde; it takes time. It’s a process."

This is what her hair looked like after one bleaching process:

"That band of brass in the center of her head is from the previous 2N that was applied on her hair at a different salon. Now with banding there’s not much you can do. I did everything that I could to avoid it, but even with my thin sections and applying a higher volume where the previous color was+taking my time to reapply...this was the outcome. After I was done taking this picture I then mixed up more lightener to just bleach the band of brass she had. Even after two sessions of lifting she still is hanging on to this band. The color didn’t want to budge from her hair. I then toned her to cool down everything so she could function for six weeks."

Colorist and balayage expert Lisa Walker, @lisalovesbalayage, reposted Pusateri's image and amplified the message of blonding further. 

"I came across this pic by @marissapusateri, and it’s probably the best example I’ve seen of virgin hair vs previous colored hair vs previously lightened hair," Walker writes on Instagram. "This is probably the worst situation you can have when trying to go lighter. When you use permanent color it permanently alters the hair, and unless it’s completely cut out it’s still there. It doesn’t matter that it’s “faded” or that it was 2 years ago. Unless you’ve cut off 2 years of hair then guess what...It’s still there."

Walker continued the discussion by explaining how virgin hair will always lift cleaner and lighter than previously colored hair. 

"I would prefer to lighten a virgin level 2 than a previously colored level 5," she writes. "Permanent color also mimics underlying pigment, so if you put level 2 over level 2 you're going to have to go through every warm stage times 2. Future maintenance should always be discussed and the consequences of going dark to light."

Pusateri posted an updated photo of her client's hair after another session. This time, she was able to post the hair at four different stages to show the impact in a more dramatic way.

"My client had her second appointment with me yesterday, and we finally broke through that band," Pusateri wrote on Instagram. "It’s still not perfect, and we have one more round of lifting to do before we achieve her hair goal."

The band was lightened four times within two hair appointments. She took fine, tiny sections and 20 volume and carefully applied it to just the darker areas to avoid overlapping on the ends and the level 8/9 virgin top of the hair. No heat was used during the process, and Pusateri says her client is one session away from her hair goal.

"Clients, trust us when we say going blonde is a process," Pusateri writes. "It takes time, money, and awkward phases."

To colorists, Pusateri leaves this wisdom: "Bands are scary and intimidating, but stay calm, and be confident. You know what you're doing."

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