Back To Brown

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I used to be a platinum blonde. For 10 glorious, angst-ridden months, I had hair that shone like moonlight (on a good day); the color of a newborn lamb (for the most part). It all began because 1) Khaleesi, and 2) Last year, the iconic hairstylist Oribe told me, “Dahhhling, you simply must be platinum at some point in your life. Just for a moment,” and 3) I love flirting with lady danger when it comes to hair. As I tell my mom: hey, at least it’s not drugs. Or stick-and-poke tattoos.

During those months, I felt like, pardon the expression, a hot piece of ass. My best friend Rochelle said, with one look, “This is the best decision you’ve ever made.” I would wear my same black jeans, sneakers, and a black top, but my hair made the whole thing pop. It was the perfect accessory.

Everyone had told me that the maintenance would be hard. In July, amidst 3 inches of regrowth and questionable tone following a weekend at the beach, I was faced with a choice: continue, or go back to my roots. I thought the process of going back would be much easier to do than going platinum, and that I would feel much the same as I had before (after all, I’d lived happily as a brunette for the better part of 28 years). I was wrong on both counts. My feelings can best be described through this “Letter of Empathy” that one reader, Officially Trace, sent me upon catching wind of my plight via Instagram:

Letter of Empathy to Emily Weiss Concerning the Recent Crisis of Hair 

Hi. 

I imagine you’re in a dark, muddy, frazzled place right now, and your spirits aren’t high either. I am a fellow brunette who recently went platinum and only recently fully recovered. This was my journey, but I imagine it might be yours too: 

You remember the reasons you wanted to dye it back. You know it’s not sustainable. 

Every morning, fractions of roots tell you you can only have this for a moment. You’re in constant flux.

You look in the mirror and see only a cloud around your head. You want to see your face again. You don’t want only to be ‘platinum girl’. This is not your only feature. 

So you begin to dye it back. It’s mud. It’s mud with streaks of straw churned in. 

Now you’re devastated. 

You miss being a bad bitch. You miss feeling aflame. 

You miss the stares-- not just looks of admiration; you’re used to those. You know what those look like. These looks were different. You had never seen these before. It was beyond admiration or recognition. It was a primal, instinctual function of the eye to seek the brightness around you. You carried a pale fire around your face.

And now you are no one. 

The thing is, you never felt like no-one before as a brunette. You were proud of your glossy depths and your sharp cut. But now, light extinguished, you feel like you’ve receded past your former natural status into a no-one you never were before. You’re worse than brunette - you’re invisible. 

You killed it. And you’ll never have it again. 

You scroll through the internet and your phone at all your blonde pictures. You start to read all the comments and wince with every compliment. Why did you do it, they ask. Why did I do it, you ask?

You look in the mirror and see ashes where once was flame.

You feel like everyone and no-one. You feel like like a wannabe fourteen-year-old blogger who begged her mom for ombre for her birthday. You feel like an eighties hooker. You feel like Bruce Jenner.

You look like Bruce Jenner, it’s true. But only because you’re wearing a Depression Tracksuit, scrolling through pictures of your beautiful past days, trying to think of ways to avoid the Kardashians. 

Soon you will clear your history, rake some coconut oil through your hair, pull it back, slam some biotin, and breathe. Platinum days are behind you, but there is still light ahead. 

You are the phoenix. You are the changeling. You will be beautiful again. 

Enjoy the (double) process and the journey home. 

With sincere sympathy and best wishes, 

Trace 

PS Thanks for liking my Instagram. 

I read the letter aloud to Tracey Cunningham, the brunette queen (Lily Aldridge, J.Lo, etc etc), from the chair in which I sat at Redken, during our second session together on my journey home. All in, it took us—and we are talking about, quite literally, the most famous colorist in the world—two days and some 8 hours to bring me back to something good.

The texture is still questionable. That raw, roughed-up hair shaft that makes platinum blondes look cool à la Debbie Harry makes brunettes look like, well, Bruce Jenner. Of course, my hair cut (or lack thereof) at the moment doesn't help. BUT! Guess what?

IT'S JUST HAIR.

And though it's not great at the moment, I'll be fine. In fact, it's been nice laying low and spending more time on friendships, meditation, last-days-of-summer rosé sipping, and new projects than on booking salon appointments. All of that said: big ups to Aura Friedman and Ms. Cunningham for being the best in the biz and for knowing that every so often, it's fun to slip into another identity for a while.

—Emily Weiss

Emily Weiss, wearing Altuzarra, photographed by Tom Newton on August 20th, 2014 in New York City. 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • celisabeth

    Seriously Emily... you are beautiful. You are a beautiful bad ass brunette. Enjoy letting your attitude outshine your hair. xx

    • Marcela

      Yeah... I guess people who think that blondes attract more attention are insecure. It's your personality and attitude that it's important, really. I've been both blonde and brunette and honestly I don't see a diference. I actually prefer being brunette. There are a looot of beautiful brunettes out there... ps: Angelina Jolie, Nina Dobrev, Lana Del Rey... ;) Emily you look gorgeous both ways! (sorry, my English isn't perfect)

    • Julianne

      This. Also as someone who has naturally light brown hair and has dabbled in everything from platinum to black (and just about all the shades in between) I can tell you that these thoughts are connected to every type of coloured hair there is, only when you went blonde it was a positive action because you chose the blonde, whereas now you're not choosing something "new" you're backtracking, which has a feeling similar to a hangover or shopper's remorse; your hair is paying for all the good times. Even if the brown has a less glamorous feel to it, it does not suit you any less. You still look gorgeous and in my opinion even more so than with the platinum.
      It's really all about the attitude that you bring to your own hairstyle. The set of pictures in this post (especially the ones of Trace) speak volumes about how your brown hair shouldn't fool you into dressing like a librarian. Obligations come with every haircolour and their success depend much more on styling, makeup, clothes and the confidence that those things bring.

  • http://vanitypresse.com/ Amanda Raponi

    I love your brown hair, Emily! Also, I love your shirt--where is it from?

  • Hannah Mae

    weird question but where is her shirt from? kinda have to know.

    • IntoTheGloss

      Hi! It's from Altuzarra's spring collection. Probably on a sale rack somewhere; got it at their sample sale a couple of weeks ago. xE

  • Vik

    This Trace is comic genius. Thanks for sharing!

    • a67penguin

      Trace is the funniest person I've seen on this site! I loved the side by side with Thomas Jefferson. Emily AND Trace- you both look better as brunettes. Think-- would a French girl spend 2 days & 8 hours in a salon to go platinum? No. There are macarons to eat. Eiffel towers to see. Embrace the brown.

  • Badedasforever

    I'm going to say something that I suspect other people besides me might be thinking. You may have been too cool as a platinum blonde. I'm not talking color tones. I mean, it was coolness to the point of admiration that makes one doubt the pale fire-bearer's mortal status. As in, the cool girl whose coolness would unwittingly make other women feel intimidated in enlisting her help in a restaurant ladies' room concerning a beauty/wardrobe emergency. You as a brunette, on the other hand, are gorgeous, yet approachable in the case of seeking a bottle of top coat to stop a run in a pair of tights.

    • Aimee

      I'm naturally platinum blonde and I feel like most women hate me. Why must it be this way?

      • Badedasforever

        I don't think it's hate; I really do think it's intimidation at someone who seems glamorous. Until a stint as a posh shop girl, I always assumed posh shop girls viewed me with disdain. After my time behind the counter, I realized it wasn't disdain, but feet hurting and wishing for lunch/caffeine. So, in that spirit, the next time I encounter one of the Tribe of Jean Harlow, I shall bravely attempt to speak to her--oh wait, I am right now!

  • Sara

    I love your brown hair! More than your platinum hair!

  • mdj

    love this post. love you blonde and love you even more as a brunette. you're a star em xxx

  • April Payan

    seriously gorgeous either way

  • http://prettyinthedesert.com/ Aseya

    I am newly blonde, having been bright pink for almost two years. I feel exactly the same! I miss the badass with pink hair!

  • Haiku Jew

    Back to brown bombshell
    blondes don't really "have more fun"
    it's mass-marketing.

  • therealblonde

    That made me laugh - both your account and Trace's. Both no worries, you both look nothing like Bruce Jenner!

    • Adrienne Angelos

      Yup, literally dying at the exchange

  • Trace

    Hard to do these things alone, indeed. Glad to be part of the journey--

  • Ari Camacho

    Love this post!! I am brunette and really wanted to be a platinum for a radical change and never did it because I know the maintainance it requires... Thanks for sharing!! xx-Ari

  • V

    ... Soooo, when do we make *Trace* the newest ITG correspondent? Because amazing.

    • IntoTheGloss

      I know, right? xE

  • mary schaubert hayes

    Not gonna lie, I loved your brown hair!

  • Sara

    Actually, I like your current look best. Light brown with highlights is how I wear my hair. I have never felt so beautiful. Trace is amazing. She should be a regular contributing edititor to ITG.

  • Quinn

    You make me laugh. I love the letter and the Bruce reference. The platinum was incredible on you but you can pull off anything with that face. And even though you might feel like "everyone and no one" you look badass as a brunette. You have too good of taste to ever look boring or basic.

  • Amy

    Time for a pixie!

  • Bells

    Emily, your hair color/cut/style doesn't matter, you always look beautiful and ooze coolness and confidence. Total inspiration :)
    Can you please give us the lo-down on your gorgeous makeup?
    XO

    • IntoTheGloss

      Hey thanks Bells!!
      The only makeup I'm wearing in the pics is a skin tint/primer situation that I can't tell you about just yet but will soon, promise ; )
      Oh, and Tom Newton (the photog) is a master with light. Thank God.
      xE

      • Bells

        Thanks Emily! :) The lighting and your new hair color really brings out your eyes like I've never seen in your pictures before. I'll ask my colorist for something like it— my light brown hair is draining the life out of my face right now, like mud.
        Looking forward to your next Top Shelf (and the mysterious skin tint, because THAT SKIN)

  • Trace

    Bruce Jenner's Instagram must be blowing UP right now--

    • Haiku Jew

      Jenner is jealous
      because his highlights were foiled
      a hair-raising pun.

  • stefinmotion

    Ok so... what's glossier.com?!

  • http://www.injackiesshoes.com/ Alexandra

    First of all, congratulations on your return and newly discovered free time! Being blonde is a job, and one I plan on having for the rest of my life. But my brown (er, dirty blonde) isn't nearly as beautiful as yours. Secondly, that letter from Trace is priceless, and I love that you reprinted it. It's fascinating the effect blonde can have on the bearer (and beholder). I don't fully understand it, though I'm susceptible to it as well. Thank you for such a great essay and for sharing your experience. It might only be hair, but sometimes hair feels like everything.

  • thebloginista

    Your new hair color makes your eyes look amazing. So, at least there's that! xo

  • Kristy

    This Trace girl, she WRITES (said in italic voice) . BE MY FRIEND

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    I agree with everyone's sentiments, even as a brunette you're a badass! Though I understand why sometimes we just need to test the waters. Hope your hair is on its way to a healthy recovery!

  • Jessica

    This is exactly how I feel anytime I go from red to brunette. EXACTLY. on the flip side, I think I will emotionally handle turning 100% grey very well when the day/age comes.

  • Francesca

    I LOVE - just love love love - this new hair colour of yours.

  • mmolly

    I feel this post so much. As a recovering platinum addict, I'm still in my post-platinum withdrawal. Even one of my best friends mentioned she still expects me to show up with blond hair. But now back to a warm black shade, I feel like myself again rather than like myself wearing a really badass wig/costume. You look great! Your hair will recover and thank you for it in the long run. And I just like to think that in 10 years or so, I'll have naturally platinum hair when all my white comes in.

  • aloii

    I really like this no/more/platinum/not/yet/brunette colour. It's a hint of honey that suits well with you and with the sweet mood of ending summer. seasonal colour?

  • http://moniquitabella.com moniquitabella

    you look very pretty either way! I recently dyed my hair too but i went from ombre to red! quite the change we will see how it goes >.<

    • Mary

      I know from personal experience that red is a little hellish to deal with. Red pigments fade/wash very easily... so you'll probably have an interesting red ombre in a couple weeks. (as in: it definitely happened with me!!)

      • http://moniquitabella.com moniquitabella

        Im afraid of that red ombre showing up soon! i've had it for two weeks now so far nothing..keeping my fingers crossed! lol

  • Anonymo

    Oh Emily-
    I was hoping we'd be on this platinum path together for a little while longer. Though beautiful you are (brown) and beautiful you will always be (any color, seriously) I will miss thinking that you and I had something (please God anything) in common. Be cheerful, strive to be happy.

  • Amy Mills

    I know this wasn't the message I was supposed to take from this article (great one, btw) but omg that thomas jefferson comparison pic -- soooo cool, biggest motivation ever to get platinum hair

  • Jani

    I Love your new color! I'm taking your pic to my colorist next time I get highlights - I want some just like your. What products are you using now?

  • Meztli

    You made me want to go platinum and now back to brunette...Love both on you though but the platinum did add a certain badassness

  • Klowman420

    Love this post!! Welcome back Emily!

  • thunderlegz

    Yeah girl! You are the only gal on our planet that could go with a paper bag over your head-we'd all still think your the bomb or whatever the whippersnappers say these days!

    Also-your skin YOUR SKIN! It's glorious, angelic, primordial! Please do another top shelf?

  • Leetoki

    That Thomas Jefferson/Bruce Jenner share, omfg. 10/10 hire this woman.

  • Liz

    you're still totally my inspiration for wanting to go platinum! I even love this in-between reddish-blond-brown look you've got going on. You look good with every hair color!

  • jas

    i recently went platinum blonde (from my black asian hair) about 4 months ago. my hair is now dying (dyeing?) and there are tufts all around the crown of my head where the hair has broken off. i love being blonde and everything that goes with it, but my once beautiful, lustrous hair just cannot take it anymore. and i do not want to be forced to cut it all off. so i have decided just to not deal with it and let it grow out (somewhat of a reverse topdeck). i feel your pair and angst.

  • Miss Y.

    That comment about Bruce Jenner in the letter made me laugh so hard! HILARIOUS!!!!!

  • http://www.penny-pinchers-purses.blogspot.co.uk Simone Molloy

    Years ago, I thought I might try going blonde. But, the virtual makeover website mirror told me, "NOOOOOO!" LOVE this article and photos - both made me laugh out loud! You're a gorgeous and funny (badass) gem! Thank you for sharing!

  • Lauren

    isn't this more of a reddish-blonde than brunette? either way, you look stunning and still very badass! did you lighten your eyebrows as well?

  • Alexa

    It looks so great on you. Soft & natural. You are beautiful enough platinum (we've all been there & loved it) is currently a bit try-hard. In my opinion it's revival died a big death some time ago. You are a trail blazer back to chic and NOW! You look gorg! Congrats you now have a stunning palette.

  • Julia Sweeney

    Uh. Can we have a top shelfie with Trace? The girl is hilarious and a damn good writer to boot. Also, Emily, my favorite look of yours is brunette with the Leo DiCaprio haircut. Bring it back!

  • Sydney

    Looks amazing! I love that there is still some blonde in there. I'm going back to my roots, too, and I think I found my true inspiration!

  • ariana

    I've been an on and off blonde for the past 12 years, and after being full on platinum last year with super long extensions, I decided to go back to my natural hair, because I was sick of the maintenance blonde hair requires, but also because my hair started falling off my head (which makes the decision way easier to make, because I love having hair on my head more than having blonde hair, you know). Byt, a year later, I miss my blonde hair SO much, I feel like I have no spark... But I've learned, with this weird haircut of mine, no extensions, only my natural hair color, to see myself as I really am and to like the real natural me! Plus, my hair is now ultra shiny and grows super fast :) But still, there's nothing like being a blonde.

  • http://lacetree.tumblr.com Natalie Pope

    LOVE.

  • joannanyc

    I can't see any of the images :-( but the writing is great!

  • Lauren Nguyen

    I've had light light grey hair for almost a year now, and I know I'll have to go back to my natural state eventually, but I am NOT looking forward to it. I will be at least this depressed, maybe more.

  • Sharon Macklin

    Much, much better as a brunette!

  • Emily Doyle

    Loved the platinum... but REALLY love the brunette!

  • fm

    trace your wisdom and wit is undeniable.

  • kaemicha

    My reason for coloring my hair is that it was turning black and it really aged me. Now, my hair is damaged and not as thick as it used to be but I still get so many more 'looks' as a blond than as a lady with really dark hair.

  • Emma and Emily

    I need to take this advice too! It is just hair. I really want to chop mine off to make my life easier and less time consuming. Plus hair grows right?

  • Mimi

    Went through this exact same process. Then, I couldn't stand being brunette anymore and bleached back to blonde. Triple process? I admire that you've done what I couldn't, and you look as great as always.

  • Mari

    I think it looks beautiful Em! Embrace your new color! <3 love!

  • Xenia

    YOur hair looks amazing, I love being a brunette. Make us look classy in sexy chic...

  • Stephanie Taylor

    Emily, I've done the swing between brunette and blonde SO SO many times. And have been massively lucky to keep my hair remotely healthy and looking "good" during these changes due to some very talented New York colorists... I highly suggest Kerestase Bain de Force shampoo and conditioner. It's saved my hair many times (that plus shampooing less often, obviously).

  • Stephanie Taylor

    What makeup are you wearing? Super natural yet polished.

  • K.B.

    You look gorgeous! The brown really brings out your eyes. You look so much like Lori Laughlin (sp?) in the first photo.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nahmoia/ nah moia

    I feel the same about going back to black again!

  • RTW

    Not even close.....much hotter as a brunette

  • andra carter // fox lane

    oh, i so feel your pain! i am naturally blonde and i went brunette about a year and a half ago. i absolutely love it but the upkeep is killing me (blonde roots look grey) so i am starting the long road back to natural. it's destroying my hair and i'm hoping that i don't have to chop it off. you look fabulous and i agree that it's just hair... it'll grow back... have fun with it!

  • silverlakey

    Bit late to post to this but anyway! You gave so much great information on going platinum, any chance we can get the same thing for going back to brunette? Product recs? The process? I'm so tempted to dye mine chocolate brown again (went platinum too), but why isn't it that easy? Would love to hear your knowledge <3

  • Terry Williams

    your fabulous freckles show much better with the brown

  • http://fauxsomuch.wordpress.com Kaitlin Brunsden

    You can werk any color. You're gorgeous. Omg.

  • http://dailypolish.com Dailypolish

    Best letter ever! I have been dying my hair red since I was 8 years old (I had really blonde-brown hair and the super temporary hair colour washes that were supposed to last 3 days lasted 4 months) and then once I was 14 I could dye it whenever I wanted....I was always known as "isn't she that loud girl with the red hair?" from parents of friends. Red hair is who I am. I even use crappy Crazy Colours when I can't afford a proper salon colour gig [though that is less frequent after discovering Salon Guinea Pig...hello cheap cut/colour from apprentices!]. I've done blonde and black...nothing ever tops red. You look great as a brunette and you won't miss how brittle and nonexistent the times between touchups were! I never have proper red hair for more than a week. Damn roots ruin everything!

REPLIES

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