To my friends back home and my newly made New York City friends, I am known as two different people. To my best high school pals, I have always been the curly-haired blondie with a thick mane of unruly hair, which I always griped about but other people seemed to love. To my NYC friends, I was (until recently) a darker shade of mousy brown after having grown my hair out to its natural hue for the first time since 6th grade. At the same time as going darker, I had also chopped my locks into a shorter bob. Everyone except my mother seemed to love my darker hair color, but you know what they say blonds always go back. And even though they also say that you should always go darker in winter, after a year of au natural, I was more ready than ever to say hello to blond again.
As a devotee to ION Studio since I moved to New York (they have an amazing staff of stylists and colorists who’ve worked with the likes of Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar and ID, and the amazing modern space boasts a dedication to a green mentality with 85% of the studio being created from recycled materials), I was not ready to leave my hair oasis for newer and less greener get it? pastures. Thus I headed back down to Soho to the hidden location on Wooster street to perform yet another hair transformation since I chopped all of my hair off last spring.
When I arrived at ION, I was greeted by Sara Lynch, one of the salon’s top stylists who would be cutting my hair. After doing a once-over of my poorly grown out locks (see above), Sara recommended using a point cutting technique to thin my hair a bit (it’s naturally super thick), which would help my cut retain a cute shape in-between salon visits. The point cutting technique allows the hair to lay into itself rather than on top of itself, Sara explained.
Since I straighten my hair (not only is it naturally super thick, it is also beyond curly), Sara decided to cut it dry first because she knew the texture would change once I started the coloring and rinsing process. She reassured me that she would be going back in afterwards to touch up the initial cut.
Check out my grown-out blond highlights above, which I’ve attempted to disguise as me “getting in” on the ombre trend for the past year.
The interior at ION Studio NYC, above the salon’s three founders and owners, Marco Santini, Pasquale Ferrante and Leonardo Manetti, were all friends in Italy before moving to the U.S. Adorable! I’ve also had my hair done before by Pasquale and he is genius! Highly recommend!
After Sara went in for the initial dry cut, I headed downstairs to meet Lena Ott, ION’s color director who concocted a platinum blond color to match the inspiration photo I had sent her. Here, Lena proceeds to paint on the color for a double process, warning me that it might sting a bit it did.
Lena had to mix extra color because my hair is so thick. Whoops.
By the time Lena was done, I basically looked like a member of the N’Avi in Avatar. You can’t tell as prominently from the pictures above, but my hair and a small bit of my surrounding forehead were legit blue.
Then it was under the heater for about 20 minutes but not before having my head wrapped in plastic to help hold the heat in first!
After rinsing out the first coat, Lena bleached (for a second time) with toner to shadow the roots, and put a lighter toner on the ends to give my hair a more believable look.
Lena’s key tip for gals going super blond is to use a violet shampoo and conditioner (which brightens the hair color) once every 2 weeks but NOT more often that that. If you use a violet shampoo more frequently than that, Lena says it actually dulls the hair more and over-tones. She recommends using products by Davines, which is not only a high quality product but it is also environmentally responsible, using as many natural ingredients as possible and 30 percent less paper and plastic in their recycled packaging. Davines is also the main product line that ION carries.
While my hair was getting a blow out, Lena stressed the importance of getting my roots touched up no less frequently than every four to five weeks and while I’m no root lover, I was surprised to learn that her logic goes beyond avoiding that skunk head appearance. “The first half inch of hair growth is soft, so it lifts easily,” Lena told me. “Once it gets past that half inch of regrowth it starts to harden, so when your colorist puts the bleach on your roots, the first half inch will easily get white, but the remaining length will stay yellow causing a band. Bands can be corrected, but it’s a very long, tedious process making it very expensive,” she explained.
Once my hair was totally dry, Sara went back in to put the finishing touches on my cut. Sara told me that this shape (angled from back to front with more length at the front) can be flattering on most face shapes, but that she probably wouldn’t recommend it for a face shape that was extremely narrow. For me, Sara suggested that this cut would work well because of my longer face; bringing the length above the shoulders works to break it up.
Tada! Five hours, two cuts, several rinses and a blow dry later, I’m newly blond again! Post cut and color, I am advised by Lena and Sara to refrain from washing my hair for at least 48 hours to let the natural oils sink back into my scalp as the double process is a super stripping process. I’m happy to showcase their amazing work for more than the 2 day minimum.
The takeaway? I say, don’t be afraid to go back to blond, even if the weather is getting cooler. It’s all about looking and feeling your best, just make sure to upkeep so that your color stays fresh.
ION Studio NYC
41 Wooster St.,
New York, NY 10013
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM- 8 PM
All photos by Joseph D’Arco for StyleCaster