How to Prep Your Hair for A Healthy Change

If you've ever dyed your hair--highlights, balayage, Sun-In--you've read one of a million tips on how to care for it post-change. You've probably purchased color-safe shampoo and invested in heavy-duty moisturizing masks to nourish your damaged locks, maybe even worn a hat or experimented with hair sunscreen. But what about the before? Like anything else, being proactive about protecting your hair before jumping in the colorist's seat can save you time, money, and irreparably damaged strands. Because it's summer-and because Emma Stone's rocking those glossy blonde locks from here to Timbuktu-we can't be the only ones inching toward blonde. So we asked Michael Canale, the man behind Jennifer Aniston and Heidi Klum's always-perfect color, and Tracey Cunningham, the artist (yes, artist) responsible for Stone's flawless jumps from one color to the next, what to do before taking the plunge.Canale's first tip? Max Detox Shampoo ($40). "It actually goes into the hair shaft and takes out the chemical elements," he says. In fact, the all-natural formula is so strong that it's often used before drug tests (it allegedly strips the hair of any illegal substances, though in your case we're talking product build-up like your daily dose of MorrocanOil, dry shampoo, and hairspray). "You have to remove everything to avoid a chemical reaction [to the hair dye]."

Then condition, condition, condition. "Make sure your hair is well-conditioned before you attempt to do something as drastic as going blonde," Cunningham says. "If it isn't, you run the risk of either being turned away (if it's me) or seriously damaging your hair." Whichever brand you choose (Canale favors Kérastase Age Recharged ($60) while Cunningham recommends the All Soft Conditioner ($17) by Redken), rinse it out with cold water so that it stays in the more porous parts of the hair. And what should be universal knowledge: don't wash your hair for at least a day before seeing a colorist, because your natural oils help hold the color.

Canale says the most important factor might not be what you do before or after the coloring process, but the patience you exercise throughout. "When you're going from brunette to blonde, you'll probably have to do it three times, conditioning between every process," he says, adding that ideally you'd wait at least a day in between each session. Most celebrities, Canale says, end up with extensions thanks to the breakage that ensues from taking their hair from one color to the next way too fast. "Try and give it as much time as you can to get back to normal and then start the procedures again."

One last note from Cunningham: "Be sure to share your entire hair color history with your colorist. If you were originally blonde, but went brown for the winter you must share this fact. Repeated coloring, if done incorrectly, decreases the health and integrity of your hair. You're not going to be one of those 'blondes who have fun' if your hair is dry and damaged."