So in case you haven’t noticed, I’m all about the DIY, and I’m proud of it. I love that I can do my hair whenever I want, change the colour weekly, and that I can rinse my bleach off when it burns my scalp too much.
When I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, I left behind my family hairstylist, and I never really took the time to get a new one. I hair-modeled a bit, and got a cheap haircut last winter, but in general I avoided the salon chair. It was liberating, it was more creative, and it cost significantly less than paying for salon services that often left me feeling disappointed and regretful.
A few weeks ago, I found myself searching for new things to do to my hair (because as I’ve said before, I treat my mane like an ever evolving art project). The lady who sells me my Davines products mentioned to me that I could try using their Alchemic line to maintain/colour my pink hair, and I was instantly intrigued.
As much as I stand behind Manic Panic, nothing makes my hair happy like Davines, and I was really interested to try a new technique. I got into contact with Davines to ask more about the line and how I could use it, and somehow ended up with a salon appointment with one of the Davines educators to get a professional dye job that utilized their new back bar collection, Pure Colours.
Driving to the ritzy salon in Yorkville, one of Toronto’s most fancy neighbourhoods, I felt a little bit nervous. What if they thought my at-home dye job was horribly tacky and awful? What if everything I’d been doing was all wrong and they laughed secretly while mixing the colours? What if my hair was so burnt and dead that they needed to shave my head?! My anxiety was flaring up to say the least.
But when I walked into Blyss salon, all of my worries and preconceptions floated away, evaporating into the incredibly good smelling air. When I went to the desk to explain I didn’t even know the name of the colourist I was there to see, the receptionist automatically knew who I was, and a woman promptly appeared to take my coat and offer me a tea. I was so overwhelmed, I put on the black gown they gave me backwards.
Next I met my “team”: Amanda, a strawberry blonde beauty that just dripped with Davines amazingness introduced herself as my colourist, and Carla, who had the most gorgeous, long, dark, wavy hair ever would be taking over after to style. They discussed my hair amongst themselves for a few moments, at which point I was filled with a sense of dread. The bleach damage had taken its toll: I just knew they were going to have to take it all off.
OK, so the verdict wasn’t that bad. My hair was damaged and had a lot of breakage, but they knew just how to fix it. They loved my colour, and really admired how much I had managed to do from home, but they wanted me to work on improving my hair health as much as possible moving forward.
Carla tried in vain to brush my knotted, hairspray-matted hair into something smooth and workable while Amanda discussed the colour plan with me. She wanted to do something I couldn’t do at home, so she offered up a pink ombre.
I have seen a lot of really horrible ombres in my time here in trend city Toronto, but something about Amanda’s general warmth and loveliness convinced me to trust her. I told her to go for whatever she felt like.
Three hours, two treatments, and a lot of TLC later, I walked out of the salon with brand-new hair. Seriously, my hair had never in my life looked and felt so good. Ever.
Between Carla and Amanda, I had ended up with the most perfect pink ombre, a fresh haircut, gorgeous, huge waves, a lot of amazing new tips and tricks to try, and a whole bunch of products to maintain my new 'do.
It was like I had floated up dead to hair heaven, and had managed to be reborn as a soft, fluffy, baby-haired person.
Turns out going to the salon once in a while and splurging a bit if you have the money is actually just as important as regularly visiting the dentist. Here’s a list of all the important things I learned:
1. A good ombre is created with a lot of backcombing. This helps to blend the colour so it doesn’t come out in a straight line around your head.
2. There is nothing better than head massages. Nothing.
3. Always brush your hair slowly and carefully before you shower. A huge amount of breakage comes from brushing your hair post-shower, especially when you’ve put shampoo through it. Brushing before showering will also help take some of the oil buildup at your scalp down to your roots.
4. My hair was really damaged. I mean, this is something I already knew, but I had accepted that there was nothing I could do to change it except (*shiver*) dye my hair dark. Carla was clearly in a state of disarray when she first started to comb my hair, but as the appointment went on she became a woman on a mission. She told me my hair would never grow super-long because of all the breakage at my ends, but if she cut my ends every three months and I really took proper care of my hair, she could turn the damage around. My hair wasn’t doomed, she said; it just needed some time and special treatments to relax and recover.
5. There is this amazing line colours called Finest Pigments, and the pearl shade made my hair so beautiful and shimmery. Amanda made a special conditioner mask with it to leave on my hair after it was washed so my remaining blonde hair had just a hint of pearly pink to it. I want to have a bottle at home so badly. The line is also made with 98% natural ingredients, which is sort of amazing right?
6. According to Carla, I should be washing my hair only once a week, but twice in one go. She explained taking a fast shower is never worth it: the whole thing should be a strategic, dedicated amount of time to give your hair some serious love. Carla’s shampooing process is wash once, roots only, and rinse. There will probably be a lot of oil buildup, so this shampoo won’t lather much. Then wash with shampoo again, roots only, and lather up. Squish your ends into the shampoo right before rinsing so they don’t get too dried out (there is much less oil down there) and then rinse again.
7. Nice salons have a really impressive roster of beverages that they are very eager to serve to you while you’re being combed and coloured. It was exceptionally nice to have hot tea constantly delivered to me. How do I get someone to do this in my everyday life?
8. Angelo Seminara is basically the god of hair colour.
9. There is a special way to wrap your hair after a shower with a small towel (hair towel). You part your hair in the middle, then do this fantastic tucking routine to get your hair all wrapped up to dry. Apparently, this technique will help me avoid the horrible bumps I get at the back of my hair from using the “flip upside down” towel method. I just need to to buy a hair towel.
10. A lot of breakage happens while we sleep at night on cotton pillows. The cotton causes friction, and this leads to matted hair, knots, and breakage in the night. Carla suggested I cover my pillow/hair with a silk or satin scarf to avoid this issue. So far, it’s worked nicely and makes me feel extra-fancy.
11. There is an even better and easier way to get wavy mermaid hair than my elaborate night braiding routine. It is as follows:
•Apply Davines OI Oil to wet hair after the shower.
•Towel dry hair gently until it is just a bit damp.
•Spray hair with a bit of sea salt spray for hold and body.
•Make super-twisty big buns (twist hair, then twist into bun) on either side of your head near your ears.
•Unravel when dry and admire your big beautiful heat-free wavy curls.
12. Apparently, before you condition in the shower, you should pop your head out and towel dry a bit first. This helps the conditioner adhere better to your hair, encourages better absorption, and means you use less conditioner and can therefore save more money for more salon visits.
13. Be more gentle with your hair. Everything from brushing to shampooing to ponytail-making needs to be gentle, or breakage will continue to occur and my head of hair will never reach its full length and body potential.
14. I know it seems obvious, but professionals are professionals for a reason. I may have gotten pretty good at all-over dye jobs in my tiny bathroom, but by no means am I a pro. Amanda had 12 years of colouring experience just at Blyss alone, and access to a whole bar of colours and amazing products that I will never be able to get my DIY hands on (and probably wouldn’t want to), and Carla at one point literally stuck ten big round brushes in my hair to help it curl. My hair was severely damaged, and although I already knew it needed help, they were the ones who knew how to fix it.
I left the salon full of new information, a big bag of products that were doled out like prescriptions, and ready to take much better care of my hair. It was like visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning, branded toothbrush and lecture, but much prettier.