My Double Process

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Emily Weiss
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Emily Weiss
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Emily Weiss photographed by Mathea Millman
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Emily Weiss and Viserys Targaryen
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Emily's Platinum Hair Products
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Karlie Kloss for Interview Magazine October 2013
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Karlie Kloss for Interview Magazine October 2013
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Karlie Kloss for Interview Magazine October 2013
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@Auracolorist
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@Auracolorist
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@sokothecat
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@sokothecat

“Hi Emily! I’d love to make you as blond as chemically possible!” Simone Mangano emailed me, by way of hello. Her Instagram handle reads, simply: “I like to bleach hair.” I had heard that if you want to go platinum, Simone’s your girl, and I wanted to go platinum—as blond as chemically possible.

Fun fact: going as blond as chemically possible takes four days. It’s not as easy, as, say, popping on a wig à la Karlie Kloss in the latest issue of Interview (my inspiration/the nail in the coffin of impetus). My hair’s been highlighted, it’s been dyed nearly black—and so I thought of the whole endeavor as one of those ‘we-don’t-know-what’s-under-there-till-we-go-in’ situations. But it’s also the one thing I’ve never done to my hair, and so of course I wanted to do it, even though the odds are against me in, in that A) it could go terribly wrong, and B) not look as good as it did before. I’ve always approached hair fuckery this way, though perhaps more unconsciously in my youth. There was the boyish crop inspired by Anja Rubik lopping off her hair circa 2006-ish, which I had to have no matter that my face looks nothing like Anja Rubik’s and I am not a model (this is the problem with copying mostly anything a model does). There was the urge to self-snip my bob up past my ears last fall, into a Leonardo DiCaprio-circa-Romeo-+-Juliet skater cut that, despite being totally on the nose, was not my best look. Just below the chin, angled longer in the front, dark cool brunette is my best look. I could do that forever and ever and know that I’m putting my best foot forward into the world. But when you start obsessing over a picture—be it hair or a bag—sometimes the only way to move forward in life is to go all in and get that thing.

Platinum as a hair idea isn’t new, but I like where it’s at in the zeitgeist right now. Models Aline Weber and Soo Joo Park; the singer SoKo; Kahleesi (or Viserys) Targaryen, and the wigs at Marc Jacobs' Spring 2014 show, with gradient black-to-ash roots and a jagged cut, all make white-blonde look weird and cool, not cheesy. Roots (faux or real) are key. Above the shoulder is key. And white is key—there mustn’t be a trace of yellow. It must look fake, artificial, and pure—not “natural.” It's more Kurt Cobain than Marilyn Monroe. And achieving the perfect tone is an art and a science and a labor of love and patience…from your colorist. (Maintaining said tone is up to you). Aura Friedman, at Sally Hershberger Downtown, is responsible for two of the aforementioned perfect platinums and it was her salon chair that I found myself in last Sunday—iPad, headphones, New York Times, book, and coffee in tow. (I'd even brought Clif bars; who knew how long I'd be there.) After an initial consultation—very important—we’d booked out roughly nine hours and set out to accomplish the whole transformation in one day, as opposed to a series of color lifting, bleaching, and toning sessions.

Calling it a “double process”—meaning bleach (strip existing color) and tone (achieve desired shade)—doesn’t really fully describe what happens. Between 10 AM and 1 PM, Aura and an assistant hand-painted paper-thin sections of my hair with bleach, wedging ribbons of cotton through my roots (“we do the roots last—the heat from your scalp makes the bleach process faster,”) mummifying my head with Saran Wrap along the way. I watched as the color drained from my hair—the limp mass turning first orange, then caramel, then flaxen. At lunchtime, they went into the roots. It’s PSA time: guess how bleach on your scalp feels? It literally feels like your head is on fire, and the kicker is that there’s nothing you can do about it, except pace the length of the salon like a woman in labor. I was told not to wash my hair for several days beforehand, as the natural oils would help protect my scalp. I wonder if I would have wussed out/fainted/had a full-blown panic attack had I not done that.

Around 3 PM, the hair was deemed as light as it was going to get, the bleach was rinsed out and we went into toning mode—Aura’s specialty. I can’t really tell you what happened next, except that there was a lot of mixology, rinsing, and repeating happening all around me at the sink, and by the time I got back to the mirror station it was 5 o’clock and I was a blonde. A little too blond, in fact—so we went back to the sink and painted in ashy roots (again, Kurt not Marilyn).

By most accounts, this would be considered a “makeover.” Augmenting your appearance so drastically that it elicits a reaction from literally every acquaintance you greet is a sea change. (See: baby bump.) But oddly, I don’t actually feel very different. More than wanting to feel different, or wanting a reaction, I wanted something to work out—a reason to experiment, if you will. At dinner the night before it went down, my friend Violette, a makeup artist, told me I would need to wear makeup—and it’s true. Now, the absence of foundation makes my already pinkish skin looks extra baby-mouse. I’m rethinking clothes thanks to a tip from my pal, stylist Stevie Dance, who sees The Hair working best with chic, sharp looks, not my usual sweatshirts and skinnies. But the part I’m most excited about—believe it or not—is the fact that all of a sudden, I am the proud owner of a head of “dry and damaged hair” (the texture of which is amazing—3x thicker and permanently beach-y), and this means that a whole new world of beauty products has been opened up to me! I’ve already done three hair masks this week and ordered Christophe Robin’s famous silver conditioner from Paris. Oh, and I’m heading back to Aura on Saturday for another round. My gut tells me it’s chemically possible to be blonder.

—Emily Weiss

Photos [1-3] by Mathea Millman; [4-10] by Emily Weiss.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • BlondeGordon

    You look great in platinum!

  • DAYNA

    love IT

  • Marleen

    Welcome to the blonde club! It's awesome, it looks so good on you!

    onadailybeautybasis.blogspot.com

  • mlle p

    LOVE it - this is exactly what I want, have wanted, for years now, but am never sure who could get it right as I don't live near New York or Los Angeles where so many of the great colorists are. My hair is naturally med-dark brown so all my friends tell me to forget it, but sometimes you just have to take a chance!

  • Rosie von Waldherr

    I actually think it looks good on you!!! I've never bleached my hair, but I heard it's horrible =X I'm actually thinking of becoming a redhead by the end of the month =)

    xoRosie

  • http://hellionyell.wordpress.com/ Helen

    Ahh it looks so good! I've had my hair bleached white but get roots within one day... wigs only now.

  • http://redlipspinkcheeks.blogspot.co.uk/ Georgie

    Looks amazing! One of the reasons I'm considering turning to the bleach is for the texture - I kind of abuse my hair with a hairdryer but the effects only last a few hours... I need bleachy dryness! Not sure I could pull off anything that light though

  • Amanda GREY

    Very punk! I would never work on with my olive skin.

    • Katrrr

      A girl at my uni has olive skin and white hair - chinese olive skin - she looks amazing! Crazy and amazing.

    • http://www.anisephoto.com/ anise

      olive skin is actually the kind of skin that is perfect for bleached hair. its the reddish skin that most stylists frown upon.

  • k80

    What! You look AMAZING Emily! (ps. it's the first time I've heard someone else acknowledge that they feel their skin looks extra pink with white blonde hair. Finally I feel less mystified about why tinted moisturiser never seems to cut it for me, and justified in my prolongwear concealer addiction!).

  • Aly

    I'm naturally platinum and I wish I had deep chestnut hair. You look amazing with it, though.

  • Tiffanni

    You have no idea how good this looks! Well maybe you do.. amazing

  • http://www.glittergeek.ca/ Arianne

    That's a magnificent colour on you. You're totally pulling it off!

  • Devi

    Love it! I must know, though--who designed your coffee table!?

    • IntoTheGloss

      Hi Devi! I did : ) xE

  • Den den

    woww!, such a drastic change, but you look really good :)

  • Jane S.

    You really do look like a modern-day Khaleesi —and that's a good thing. Now...where to find some dragons....

  • circafashion

    You look great!

  • Janine

    Very Debbie Harry! I love it!!!!

  • http://www.ofstrangersensibilities.com/ Joy of Stranger Sensibilities

    Totally living vicarious through you. I kind of like my natural black hair the way it is.

  • Nikki

    Emily you look gorgeous! Love it!

  • Greta L.

    Like!

  • Katie

    This looks pretty great, actually. I wouldn't go any blonder though, it's definitely the perfect white blonde.

  • http://diamondsandpebbles.wordpress.com/ Alice

    wow! LOVING the new hair

  • Jani

    Love it! You look great. Do tell about the Christophe Robin silver conditioner. I've never heard of it and don't see it on his website. I am addicted to his products!

  • Erin Frye

    I went platinum about a year ago and I will NEVER go back! There is def a maintaining process but totally worth it. The new products are awesome too...and essential to keep it from being too dry! Looks great!

  • Emily Doyle

    This is so exciting! I love a good transformation. Looks fantastic - thanks for sharing the journey. Sidebar, kinda jealous of your H&M IM shirt ; )

  • Maggie

    LOVE IT! The ashy roots are perfection, amazing.

  • hautehippie

    I love it!

  • Farhan

    it looks awesome!!! i'm really jealous, i've been wanting to bleach my hair so badly, but i'm afraid i'm gonna look like Jay Manuel. (i'm Pakistani.)

  • http://modetteblog.com/ Kate | Modette

    I think it suits you so well! Gorgeous. Xx

    modetteblog.com

  • isilnoir

    ahahaha I seriously laughed out loud when I saw "Emily Weiss and Viserys Targaryen" photo :D you guys are amazing. and Emily looks amazing, I think I want to go blonde, too...

    http://isilnoir.wordpress.com

  • http://thecornerapartmentblog.com/ Elizabeth @ TheCornerApartment

    You look incredible! I love the contrast with your dark eyebrows. Way to take the plunge.

  • Lisa

    Have you experienced any hair breakage since the bleaching process?

    • IntoTheGloss

      Hi Lisa-- no, not really, but I've also been REALLY careful. Haven't washed it once, just conditioning with Davines or Christophe Robin silver conditioner. My scalp, however, was another story. It basically molted. Bleach is a bitch. xE

      • kathS

        So sad - I had to stop bleaching my hair b/c of what it did to my scalp. Burns and dandruff - not good! But I love yours and it is making me wish I could go back! Now I just have an "ombre".

  • Ana

    You look great & this look really suits you. I miss my white hair- I've had them for a few years before growing them out but maybe its time to experiment again...Are those Isabel Marant for H&M trousers you are wearing? Oh, how wish I got those! I got black ones instead but I cannot get the white ones out of my head since yesterday!

  • Lili Barbery-Coulon

    I absolutely love this post, well written, funny, witty, personnal, this is everything I come seek here on ITG. I miss you, I wish I had been there in NYC with you and Violette and Nick for dinner. God, you look stunning, even Bastien said so (and he's not very good at making compliments). Can't wait to hug that blonde hair girl. And yes, you do need loads of make up, either on eyes or on lips now. Amazing, you DID IT!

    • ikillplants

      Emily @IntoTheGloss:disqus you look stunning. I adore the ITG team, but do wish we could get more of your voice in the website's features.

  • Aubrey Green

    It looks great!

  • Dawn Joyce

    A friend went double platinum after a major bad box dye moment. Seeing the look on Emily Weiss makes it feel much less like an accident

  • Juliana

    Looks very stockholm cool, I love it. Edgy.

  • sharon

    nice!

  • thunderlegz

    very beautiful

  • mels

    j'dore!

  • Nicole B.

    Wow seriously in love with this color. Really makes me want to bleach my hair now!!

  • http://www.thepinkwars.com/ Lynn Doan

    Just did this to my hair recently! Can you make a post/list the products you use?

    • IntoTheGloss

      Yep! I expect several : ) xE

  • Nancy

    AMAZING!!

  • A Karina Zatarain

    Its funny how you say you got your inspiration for boy hair from a model and that you later learned you didn't look like a model to pull it off as well. Just so you know i got my inspiration for my boy hair from you haha

  • allyouneedisblush

    LOVE it. Your brows (and roots) look so good with the platinum hair!

  • Lana

    Congrats! You look stunning!

  • Darinne

    I heard "we share our mother's health" in my head when I saw this.

  • http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/ Nomadic D.

    My god you look AMAZING! I am now officially extremely jealous. I've always wanted to do this (is there anyone who hasn't? at least secretly?) but have always been so chicken. I'm guessing you have now just empowered ladies everywhere. Oh man, I so want to do this!

    Interesting about the makeup though, I never would have thought of that...

    http://www.nomadicd.com

  • alicake

    Love! I want to do the same but what about root maintenance? I have dark brown hair naturally and not a fan of the look when the roots start growing back. How often will you need to have the roots done?

  • http://brklyngirl.com/ jj

    SO Gorgeous! Welcome to blonde-dom! Going straight to platinum is a ballsy move. I know all too well the scalp burn. Worth it, though!

  • Marie

    Seriously that looks so amazing on you

  • Mady

    You have the face for brown hair (ie. a good one!) but this platinum business looks pretty great as well. I've wanted to bleach mine for a change, but the dry, tangled hair that would ensue makes the hassle tolerable for only shorter hair.

  • Guest

    Wow!

    Well, first of all, you look amazing, but that's nothing new. I've always thought you were gorgeous.

    But I find myself wondering: is everything OK? Is this massive change indicative of something more? Or something bad?

    I once asked a hair stylist, who's also a good friend, to take by hair from very dark brown to a golden/caramel blonde. She asked me where all the self-loathing was coming from! Yes, I was offended, but in the end, she really made me think. (We are still friends and she is still my hairdresser.) I had to ask myself what it is about our culture that makes so many of us think that this blonde-ness, this whiteness, if you will, is the best, the most beautiful, the thing we should all either want to be or regret that we are not?

    The idea seems transcendent. I have seen platinum blonde Asians, Africans, Latinas -- you name it. What does it all mean? I have no answer, but I find the question endlessly fascinating.

    For the record, I did not end up going blonde. I chose an ombre, with lighter shades of brown, instead. I'm pretty happy with it. For the moment, at least. I guess sometimes hair color is no more significant than lipstick. Except, of course, when it's not.

  • Lauren

    so fun and inspiring!

  • joannanyc

    I totally know this feeling:

    "Just below the chin, angled longer in the front, dark cool brunette is
    my best look. I could do that forever and ever and know that I’m putting
    my best foot forward into the world. But when you start obsessing over a
    picture—be it hair or a bag—sometimes the only way to move forward in
    life is to go all in and get that thing."

    It can be so boring to do your "best look" all the time. Change looks pretty good on you!

  • Rachel J Lee
  • babs

    Holy cow! When I saw the photo, I thought it was someone's Top Shelf and when I realised it was YOU, my jaw dropped. You look AMAZING! I have always loved platinum hair but I don't have the skin tone to pull it off.

  • http://www.thenycdet.blogspot.com/ ~The NYC Diet~

    an unexpected good move. it could have gone terribly terribly wrong.

  • ELKYI

    BABE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Abeille

    You can also tone with food dye by mixing red & blue & adding one drop to your regular shampoo. I'm not blonde but went from jet black to light brown hair and use blue & purple to keep orange & golden tones at bay.

    • Tilly

      I have brown hair, dyed darker, and am always struggling to eliminate the red and orange undertones that come through, since achieving ashier tones through dye doesn't seem to do anything - the red in my hair always comes out eventually (even though it isn't naturally red). Will have to try this tip - thank you!

    • moonlaff

      that's an interesting tip! thanks.

  • Lori Santos

    You've got balls, girl. Inspiring!

  • Miss Y.

    It looks so incredibly cool!!!!!!! I got so excited when I saw the post! You didn't disappoint it looks really good! Curious to hear more about your changed makeup routine.

  • Sarah

    You look good, Emily! But, I prefer your brown hair.

  • Ola

    is it possible to make eyebrows lighter? I'm not implying anything here, just to be clear :), i would really like to have lighter brows
    Ola

  • The Fashiournalist

    4 days to get blonder and you look like that? I LOVE it!!! As a DIY-blonde I can say; the dryness will get better, just have a bit patience and a lot of oil (no masks, it will only dull it) You look fab <3

    XX TF

    http://thefashiournalist.com/

    • IntoTheGloss

      What kind of oil?! xE

      • KT

        Morrocanoil light of course! ;) Goldwell elixir is pretty great too.

  • adamalpha

    Wait, so did you go to Simone and Aura or just Aura? Did they work in tandem?

    • IntoTheGloss

      I wound up going to Aura xE

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    Emily! It looks absolutely gorgeous -- great choice. I also want to commend you on being such a good essayist....totally roped me in.

  • ni ni

    You look beautiful.

  • Hollo

    this makes me furious! i am naturally very blonde and whenever i visit ma huurdresser and ask for platinum, (ala your hair above), it's NEVER anywhere near as GOOD and is around $400. australia sucks.

    anyone know a good hairdresser in sydney who can deliver for under $500?

  • Genoveva Pedrero

    Few women can pull off both blonde and brunette but you do it gorgeously. Congratulations! Great post, I look forward to reading more personal accounts about beauty procedures/products.

  • francesca

    what is that floral shirt?

    • Cat

      Isabel Marant for H&M ;)

  • Alex

    looks flipping amazing

  • songsinthekeyoflife

    That's possibly the best color job from dark hair to really light that I've ever seen. Amazing job. Totally flattering. Beautiful tone. As a make up artist I would say, lighten your eyebrows, they look too dark and severe.

  • Nina R.

    Emily you look stunning either way, but it's pretty awesome that you really put yourself out there for the sake of your blog! As a naturally washed-out blonde, please please please do a post on your new blonde make-up must haves!

  • Rebeka Osborne

    I LOVE your new look. You are a fabulous blonde. Who would have known?

  • Elizabeth Milligan

    No. No. Double No. Am I the only one who knows this is just a passing fancy? A flash in the pan? A swing and a miss? You are beautiful and no hair color change can alter that; however, don't give in to crazy trends. Next time try a wig first - fantasy play can be fabulous! xoxo

  • sarah

    haha, targaryen. kinda badass. I have very silky but thick hair which is hard to manage so i can feel the damage appreciation! I'm wondering what next, maintain or chop?

  • Lal

    Blonder??????

  • guest

    You don't list the products that she uses separately? C'mon!

  • Carey

    Emily, so I have been debating a dramatic color change... One that would require the day in the salon... You look AMAZING platinum! Was it worth the time? I'm feeling guilty about 9-12 hrs in the salon.

  • Erica Rae Deutsch

    it looks amazing! i've wanted to do this to my hair forever and stylists always tell me its impossible so its great to hear your process!

  • Brocaded n Bared

    Thank you for validating (what I thought was) a crazy thought....I wanted chemically damaged hair. My hair was SO healthy and bouncy and shiny...ugh. I love the texture of my hair now, but I have been SUPER taking care of it, lots of conditioning treatments, so it's starting to feel really healthy again (booooooo) since it's also growing out.
    Well I LOVE your hair. Can't wait to see how far you can take the chemically treated evolutionary ladder.

  • marcia silverstein

    I looked on line for the Cristopher Robin silver conditioner and there is no product like that Please advise

  • Lucilla Green

    Outstanding! .. And so brave

  • Fee

    The texture was my favourite part of having a full bleach too :) I could never get the colour perfect though. Dang, now I'm thinking about having another go...

  • Alice

    kurt was not bleached blonde...he was naturally sandy blonde. the hair is def more marilyn.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Emily,

    Do you happen to know offhand if Aura is available on a daily basis kind of thing for walk-ins/last minute appointments, or is she booked up for months on end? Long story short, I'll be in NY for about four days the week before Christmas and I'd absolutely be thrilled to sit in her chair for a few hours. I think your new do is absolutely fantastic and I'm blown away by her work. Just thought I'd ask you before I emailed her. Thanks!

    xo

  • Kelly Boyer

    You look amazing in platinum hair! I wish I was brave enough to try that.

    -Kelly
    http://www.hautetrader.com

  • thatgirl…

    I can't find the silver conditioner anywhere!

  • Lindsay B

    I know this is waaaay late, but if it can help anyone at this point, I might as well throw this out there. In regard to the scalp burning, it helps tremendously if you don't wash your hair for a while before your appointment. The greasier, the better, my hair stylist says!

  • Stacey Angel

    Hi Emily, I LOVE your new do--It looks GORGEOUS on you! You've inspired me to do the same, but I have some questions. May I have to email address for ITG, or could we continue a Q&A on the forum? Thanks!!!

  • Calli

    One tiny comment - apologies for NERD ALERT - Khaleesi is not her name. Her name is Daenerys Targaryen and her TITLE is Khaleesi after she marries Khal Drogo (it means 'Queen' in Dothraki. Otherwise, great hair!

  • Mildred Campos

    I LOVE IT!

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