Beauty blunders and terrible haircuts aren’t the sorts of experiences we forget easily, no matter how old we get. Rewind 20 odd years and I can still recall the first and up until recently, the only time I decided to stray away from my dark brunette locks. As a naive teenager, I somewhat audaciously thought that a haphazard spritz of Sun-In here and there would transform my chocolatey-brown tresses into beachy blonde locks.
Unfortunately, any serious brunette who has dabbled in at-home hair lightening know that’s generally not how the story goes. Needless to say, the brassy, orange shade did nothing for my inky black eyebrows and the hydrogen peroxide in Sun-In – I may as well have used household bleach – left my once thick and shiny locks limp and damaged.
While the allure of Alexa Chung’s iconic and oft-imitated balayage locks have always tempted me to try again, I’ve stuck to my brunette tresses for the last couple of decades. But it’s fair to say that colouring technology has changed dramatically since I regrettably reached for the Sun-In. And if anyone was going to successfully convince me to throw caution to the wind, it was going to be fountain-of-knowledge-where-all-things-hair-are-concerned, Rodney Wayne’s creative director, Richard Kavanagh.
Despite knowing that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, I still think coloured hair means lacklustre, unhealthy locks. In short, I tell Kavanagh I’m hesitant to colour my hair because I don’t want to sacrifice my healthy tresses. “There is an anxiety about colouring your hair and hair health.,” he says. “If you’ve never coloured your hair before or haven’t for a long time, you don’t know what it’s going to be like if you colour.” But here’s the surprising bit: Kavanagh says the advances in technology have been so amazing that some people actually find that their hair is in better condition. “Particularly with today’s demi-permanents, they add incredible shine and softness and at Rodney Wayne, we have a SmartColour service, powered by L’Oreal Smart Bond. By adding Smart Bond agent to the hair it means that you can change your colour and change your colour at every visit without worrying about the structure and integrity of your hair,” he explains.
“The bonding agent protects weakened bonds and protects the bonds that are already strong, and strengthens the weakened bonds so people are having incredible results and are feeling much more confident,” Kavanagh says. Even when you’re going from dark brunette to a handful of shades lighter I ask eagerly. “It’s designed for going lighter,” Kavanagh assures me. “It’s purposely designed to protect the hair structure as you lighten.”
The In-Salon Experience
Kavanagh says one of the easiest ways you can communicate what you want with your hairdresser is by taking in pictures of hair you love and hair you hate. Armed with 20 or so pictures of Alexa Chung’s glossy balayage locks, I think I’m ready. But first thing is first. Kavanagh says the best haircut is one that suits both you and your lifestyle and when I take a seat a Rodney Wayne’s Fort Street Salon artistic team member Milly Briant is quick to ask me everything from how often do I wash my hair to questions about my scalp health.
Once we’ve established my routine, we get down to business: what do I want my hair to look like. It’s my cue to whip out my pictures of Alexa Chung. “That celebrity high contrast doesn’t often translate well in real life,” explains Briant. Because my hair is so dark, Briant explains there will be warm tones. I’m not going to get an icy, cool blonde. “You’re a brunette and we don’t want you to feel like you’re now a blonde.”
Briant’s honest approach to my hair and what’s achievable is refreshing: far too often have I been directed to the salon basin without a thorough consultation. Because I do wash my hair every day, using bleach on my hair could dry out my tresses. I haven’t coloured my hair for years and technically have what’s called ‘virgin’ hair, so Briant decides to use what’s called a high lift tint instead.
“Bleaching expands and can damage the cuticle,” explains Briant. A high lift tint won’t have the same dramatic effect bleaching can have – that’s not what I want anyway – but it’s much gentler on hair and the scalp. Perfect for anyone new to colouring who really wants to retain the integrity and health of their hair. Briant uses the SmartColour service – the first part of Smart Bond is added to the lightener, the second step is done at basin prior to shampoo – to enhance and lock in my hair’s health. She also includes one of my all-time favourite in-salon treatments, Kérastase Fusio-Dose – a very clever nourishing treatment that is customised to suit your hair concerns and needs.
The end result: my hair looks just how I wanted it too – it’s sunkissed without looking overdone. And the best part is, it feels and looks just as healthy as my virgin hair did.
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