Just How Much Work Is A Dramatic Change in Hair Color?

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Choosing a Color

Before you even think about taking the plunge, celebrity hairstylist Marie Robinson, the woman often responsible for both Stone and Hathaway’s color, not to mention Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart, suggests trying “large swathes of hair against your skin instead of a full wig, because when you get your hair colored professionally there’s depth, and different colors, and a wig is so monochromatic.” Head to a wig store and try layering different colored hair on top of your own strands.

Prepping Your Hair

Even highlights will change your hair’s texture, so imagine what a full transformation will do. “The best color results happen on healthy hair,” says Robinson. Stay away from hot tools for at least a few weeks before your appointment and use a moisturizing mask, like Goldwell’s Dualsenses Color Extra Rich 60 Second Treatment Mask ($20), once a week (though you should be using one anyway!).

Time + Money = Lots of Work

“You want to find out if you can afford the maintenance—and have the time for it,” Robinson advises. The best colorists charge hundreds of dollars for highlights, let alone a huge change, and a drastic color change isn’t the best time to score a deal. With roots the opposite color of your ends, you’ll be going to the salon once a month and you’ll probably need specific shampoo and conditioner, not to mention treatments and products like glosses, moisturizing masks, and serums, to keep your color looking healthy; it’s not an inexpensive endeavor and though touch-ups are less expensive than the initial process, they’re still time-consuming.

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‘The Mother of All Warnings’

If you’ve tested colors, readied your hair, and decided that maintenance isn’t a problem, we suggest speaking with someone who’s already taken the plunge. We rang up Erika Bearman, Oscar de la Renta’s Senior Vice President of Global Communications, a.k.a. OscarPRGirl, to ask about her 12-hour transition from black to platinum. “Basically the mother of all warnings is that you’re going to ruin your hair,” says Bearman. “Of course everyone’s right.”

You Have to Commit

“It’s very difficult to maintain and to care for,” says Bearman, who spends four hours at Robinson’s salon every four weeks. “I can go to six weeks if I want to, but then I have to sit in the chair longer.” She only washes it once a week, with Kevin Murphy’s Blonde Angel Wash ($32) and Treatment ($34), and she’ll put a deep conditioning mask in her hair before heading to hot yoga.

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Your Hair Isn’t the Only Thing That Changes

Bearman says everything, from her makeup to her wardrobe, had to change with her hair. “It’s almost like your hair is a color,” she says. As a blonde, she wears far less makeup: “Next to none,” she says, “though I do like to accentuate my brows a little bit.” The bright colors she wore as a brunette are too harsh against her white hair and even her style’s had to change. “Blonde can make things look pinup-y.”

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So Why Do It?

"I’d wanted to dye my hair since I was an adolescent in the ‘90s,” Bearman says. Anne Hathaway was in need of a new image, and even her quick spin as a blonde did the trick. Of course, it’s a much easier switch to make when you’re sporting a pixie cut as opposed to waist-length hair. Though not low-maintenance, it’s a fun, non-invasive way to look dramatically different in hours.

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Is it Worth It?

That’s the one question we can’t answer for you! Bearman spent over 15 years thinking about it, so her answer is yes. “But I don’t think it’s sustainable for me,” she says. “I think you’re probably always prettier with your natural color—but this is just so fun!”

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