When I was younger, I swore to never colour my hair as I didn’t want to deal with the maintenance, the regrowth and the damage. My hair is naturally black like your typical Asian and it was naturally thick and I had lots of it. I always had my hair like this until about two years ago when I felt like doing something adventurous and dyed my hair the deepest shade of brown. Haha. In fact, it was so dark that you could barely tell I dyed my hair brown – only in the sunlight. Nothing really changed in terms of hair care or maintenance since it was so close to my natural colour, and so I was hooked.

Suddenly, there was a whole new world of hair possibilities.

Rakis On Collins have been looking after my hair, ever since then. When I first visited Rakis on Collins, they introduced me to highlights. And highlights changed my world. Suddenly, hair had dimension and more visible texture! Over time, the talented team have took me through balayage, through rose golds, to bright magenta pinks and everywhere in between. And it’s been so fun to colour my hair that I haven’t looked back.

I’ve had heaps of questions from you guys about my hair colour over on Instagram so I thought I’d put all the info here so you can refer back to it any time. I hope you find this helpful should you ever want to embark on colouring your hair too.

THE PROCESS OF LIGHTENING DARK HAIR

For me, I always wanted to have pastel colours in my hair and in order to achieve this, you need a really light base to start off with. Cordell (my colourist at Rakis) took my hair lighter over a few visits in order to protect the hair and keep the condition of the hair at its healthiest. As I had never lightened my hair before, I had no idea how my hair would react, but luckily, everything went alright and we were slowly able to achieve the really light blonde ends that I always wanted.

When it comes to lightening black or dark hair like mine, Danny (Creative Director at Rakis) says that it’s really important to seek a professional because it needs to be done in a controlled way. In most cases, it can take a few applications to get the final result so it’s best to seek professional advice. It’s important to not do too much in one sitting as you don’t want to stress the hair too much. The salon uses L’Oreal Smartbond whilst colouring to protect the integrity of the hair and recommends Shu Uemura and Kerastase for conditioning treatments and home care.

COLOURS 

Once the hair is lightened, you can start playing with hair colours! Every time I visit the salon, we try a different shade of pink. With colours, a simple rule of thumb is that light, pale and pastel colours stay in the hair only temporarily and bright, vibrant and fluoro colours will stay in the hair for much longer. With all my shades of pastel, I have had them stay in the hair from anywhere between 2-4 weeks. With that time I went bright pink – the plan was for it to fade into a really rich pastel pink over time so that I could be all sorts of shades of pink over the course of a few months and it totally worked! What happened was that I had about 2-3 weeks of bright pink, followed by maybe 2-3 weeks of a rich pastel pink before fading into a stunning dirty pink which lasted for a few more weeks too.

That time I went bright magenta pink! This was at about the 2-3 week mark. It has already started to fade out.

MAINTENACE / SALON VISITS

The maintenance that comes with the hair lightening process for me was mainly visiting the salon every 2-3 months to touch up the root regrowth and also during the process to lighten the hair colour even more.

I’ve always been into low-maintenance hair so the salon chose a really natural dark brown for my hair which means that any regrowth that occurs will blend in quite well with the dark brown. I think that’s what I love most about balayage and my current hair colour over something like a full head of blonde where any black hair regrowth would stick out majorly. It makes maintenance so much easier.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HAIR 

Caring for my coloured hair has been a real learning journey for me as I’ve previously never had coloured hair before, so I had no idea what to do. I used to ask Cordell so many questions because I wanted to make sure I got it all right once I left the salon. Here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way.

Firstly, make sure you invest in the right hair products and use ones that are specifically formulated for coloured hair. When I first had really dark hair, it made no difference what kind of shampoo I was using. As my hair has gotten lighter, I’ve found that it needed something more nourishing. I find that, if you use the right products, your hair can actually become quite low maintenance! But if you use the wrong products, then your hair can get really dry and break and that’s when things get really high maintenance.

I’ve finally understood how to care for my hair now. Right now, my hair is at its lightest it’s ever been, but yet it is also at the healthiest it’s ever been.

Here’s my current winning hair care routine featuring some absolutely miracle products – I literally can’t believe how much better they are compared to other products I had previously used. These products literally turned my high maintenance routine into one that was as simple as having uncoloured hair. I really couldn’t see myself without these products anymore. Note: most of these products are more expensive than your typical supermarket options, however if you’re going to invest in taking your hair lighter, you should most definitely invest in after care too.

Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy shampoo (Available in salon at Rakis) 

Whilst most shampoos can leave my hair feeling really rough and brittle until I condition my hair, this Shu Uemura shampoo actually makes my hair feel strong and smooth. How weird is that? I’ve cycled through many shampoos before, most of which are formulated for coloured hair, but no shampoo has ever left my hair feeling this good. I used to be scared to shampoo because I knew my hair would feel rough or tangled until I conditioned it. But like, this is really crazy good stuff. I wash my hair every 3-4 days and don’t even need a lot of product because it works so well.

Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy masque (Available in salon at Rakis) + L’Oreal Smartbond (Available in salon at Rakis) 

After shampooing, I alternate between the Shu Uemura masque and the L’Oreal Smartbond. I’m going to have to check I’m doing this right next time I head in salon as I don’t use an actual *conditioner* but for me, this combo works really well. The Shu Uemura mask I put in my hair and leave in for five minutes before rinsing out and the same goes for the Smartbond. Both leave my hair silky soft once I leave the shower which is such a great feeling! If you’re new to masques and hair treatments (like I was, when I first coloured my hair), then they’re basically products you leave in your hair for a few minutes that are like extremely conditioning conditioners. Again, I rarely use much product because it works so well. With other brands, I’d double the amount of product I’d put in my hair and would get worse off results.

Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil (Available in salon at Rakis) 

When I’m drying my hair, I put one pump of this oil onto the ends of my hair. It’s so nourishing that I only need one pump and I have a lot of hair. It spreads really easily throughout all my hair and instantly makes my hair feel strong and silky smooth. In the past, I’ve used other hair oils where I’ve had to use 3- 7 pumps and they’ve felt heavy and weighed my hair down. So I’m definitely not going back!

Colour toner products at home

Like I said, pastel colours don’t last long so the way most people keep pastel colours in their hair for extended periods of time is through toning (‘colouring’) their hair every few weeks – whether it is done in salon or at home. Over time, I’ve tried various hair colouring products. Here’s the two I recommend.

  • Evo Fabuloso (Available in salon at Rakis): This is a condition that is only available in salon for coloured shades as the salon will need to customise and mix the colour you want into the bottle for you. After I shampoo, I get out of the shower, towel dry my hair and massage this product into the ends of my hair. I then let it sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing it out in the basin. It’s probably easier if you hop back into the shower and rinse it out, which now that I think about it, I’ll probably do from now on. The thing I love about this product is that it is a conditioner, so its conditioning properties make your hair feel really healthy once you rinse it out. Plus, the colour staying power is great and the fact that you can get the exact colour you want is an absolute bonus. However, the only downside for me is that I like to keep things simple and prefer not to have to leave the shower haha.
  • De Lorenzo Novafusion Colour Care shampoo in Rosewood: I bought this shampoo after a recommendation from a friend. These shampoos come in a range of pre-formulated colours and are available in places like Hairhouse Warehouse. To use, you first shampoo your hair with your regular shampoo, and then follow with this shampoo which you leave in for 5 minutes. The thing I love about this product is the fact that I can use it in the shower as an extra step. However, it does leave my hair feeling kind of rough after but a dose of the Shu Uemura masque or L’Oreal Smartbond often fixes it. Also, it’s not the exact colour that I want, but it is still a rose gold pink kind of shade. If you’re on a budget or haven’t got access to Evo Fabuloso, then I’d definitely recommend this one – just follow it up with a really nourishing conditioner, masque or treatment.

So for me, I’ll use the De Lorenzo shampoo if I’m lazy or don’t have much time – because I can do it in the shower. And I’ll use the Evo Fabuloso when I have a few extra minutes. I often alternate between the two and so sometimes have varying shades of pink in my hair. They’re all really pastel toned, so you can’t really tell the difference too much!

Hope you guys enjoy this post and thank you to the talented Rakis on Collins team (Danny, Cordell, Chris, Pasquale) for taking care of my hair! It’s always so fun and relaxing in the salon and everyone who works there are absolutely lovely and full of fun and energy.

Rakis On Collins

Level 2, 178 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

If you want to visit – my colourist is Cordell :)