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Brown to Blonde: Myth or Miracle?

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You might say I have hair ADD. In 2013 alone, my locks went from brown with blonde highlights to a graduated ombré to a bright pink undercut to jet-black with grown-out pink streaks. So when I had the itch to make another change, to full-on blonde, I was naturally worried about completely obliterating—or potentially losing—my hair.

But I was inspired to take the plunge when I found out about a brand-new bleaching system developed by IT&LY Hairfashion creative director Pasquale Caselle. Caselle’s Blondly Bleaching Cream was designed to lift brunette hair up to seven levels safely and evenly, using a formula fortified with argan and jojoba oils to strengthen and restore locks while adding extra conditioner and shine. Those are big claims to make for a process most colorists warn you against, and I was curious to see if it could truly be done.

Caselle, who works with the styling teams at a number of hit TV shows like Modern Family and The Voice, invited me into his Los Angeles home to complete the transformation. He analyzed my hair type and existing color (dark, dark brown with pink highlights) and decided on a cool, platinum shade with some darker blonde highlights to add dimension. Although he was concerned about the pink (it’s apparently one of the more difficult colors to strip), he proceeded, separating my hair into three sections to apply the formula. He concentrated first on the middle section (where hair is the strongest), then moved on to the fragile ends, and finally the scalp, which, since it radiates body heat and will quicken up the bleaching process, must be treated last.

The bleaching was successful after about 30 minutes, perfectly lifting out the darker shades in my roots and the middle section of the hair. The pink, though, proved to be a problem. It took three applications to lift most of it out from the ends. Surprisingly, my hair is still intact after all the bleaching even though Caselle did have to chop off several inches that had frayed (a consequence of my constant coloring combined with product build-up).

Nevertheless, the results were impressive as the before and after photos prove. After a four-hour process, my hair came out shinier and easier to comb through than before (how is that even possible?!), and the color is glowing with uniform results, which were helped by the application of an equalizer that Caselle sprayed on between applications. So, consider the myth busted: brunettes can become blondes and still come out with good hair. Interested in trying it? Look for Caselle’s product line is in a number of boutique salons across the country, where he personally trains colorists on how to use it.

Caselle left me with three helpful tips to maintain my hair’s health and boost its strength as it grows out.

1: Try silica and selenium supplements. “Silica will help your hair grow longer and stronger, and selenium helps improve shine and breakage,” says Caselle, noting that you can get the daily required amount of selenium by eating just three to four Brazil nuts per day. You don’t want to overdo either, but Caselle has seen clients hair transform with these.

2: Add essential oils. Caselle recommends adding any blend of the following into to your shampoo or conditioner (put it right into the bottles): rosemary, bay laurel, lavender, chamomile, cyprus, sage, or ylang ylang. If you’re over age 40, he says iodine and licorice root can help aging locks; try 30 to 40 drops of each.

3: Stock up on almond oil. Of all the naturally derived oils on the market, this is Caselle’s pick. Massage raw almond oil into your hair at night, then braid and pin it. “When you wake up, you’ll have gorgeous, healthy waves,” he says.