— Style —

To Blonde or Not Too Blonde

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Every once in a while I have a hair crisis, and I’m currently at that point.

I’ve been going to the same salon for a while, and we’d hatched a hair plan for my recent wedding. I was to come in for blonde highlights at 9:30am, the Thursday before Christmas, just over a week before my New Year’s Eve wedding. When I got up the morning of my appointment, our French Bulldog was having trouble breathing, and I had to rush her into the vet. I called the salon as soon as they opened and told them my dog was getting x-rays, but I’d be there as soon as possible. When I arrived, just before 10:00am, I was told the colorist had double booked and couldn’t fit me in… Double booked for a wedding appointment planned months before! Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled. They told me they’d squeeze me in the next day – Christmas Eve – with a junior stylist. Terrific.

The junior stylist was excellent and very sweet, but the senior stylist, who’d double booked me, made grumpy and sarcastic comments. I’m a big believer in life is too short for nonsense, so I decided then to have them do my updo for the wedding–as planned–and made a mental note to look for a new salon in January. It’s an active part of my self-care to not have rude service people in my life. I live in Canada’s equivalent of Stepford, and you can get hair bleach and Botox on every corner in town. Of course, I got busy with other things…

Now I have super blonde highlights–my relatives would have called it yeller hair–that are way past their due date and have gone brassy in the sun. I have an inch of dirty blonde and grey regrowth. Moving forward, I want to grow my hair a bit longer and have a lower maintenance look in terms of color. Less dye equals a healthier look. What I’m after is that je ne sais quois French girl look with subtle highlights that only need looking at twice a year.

I don’t mind the greys. I’ve earned them. So… What to do in the interim?

I can find a new colorist I like and work towards a new look; throw on some semi-permanent colour to tone things down; or let it grow out and hope I can pass the thing off as some sort of deliberate ombre. Sigh… I know this is a first world problem of the highest degree, but I experienced hairloss as a teenager so anything hair-related is ridiculously upsetting.

If you have any advice for growing out highlights, I’d love to hear about it all. In the interim, I think I should invest in some fabulous wigs.



  • Vinetta March 8, 2017 at 8:17 am

    I went through this too, everybody loved my super blonde hair but it was very high maintenance and very expensive. I had my colorist reverse darker low lights!!! My entire hair went back to my roots, haha. I actually had several people say to my face…… They didn’t like it. But, I had other truly dear friends say that they did like it…… When you change your hair you find out who your good friends are. But it is my natural color and now it can grow out naturally without problems!!!!! I’m happy with it

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:17 am

      I love that: “when you change your hair you find out who your good friends are.” Truth! I’m glad you are happy with it.

  • Joanna March 8, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    I had a wonderful stylist that always got my colour just right and my hair cuts were perfect. I tell you, I loved this man. Then, he went and moved to another city. Heartbroken! I’ve bounced around between four different salons and about half a dozen stylist since then and none of them are keepers? I love subtle highlights as they grow out without any telltale signs.
    Life is too short to tolerate rude people or less than stellar service. I would move on too. Good luck in your search.

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Thanks! It’s so hard to find a good stylist isn’t it. I think the problem is they want to try fun new things and I just want subtle and boring (and cheap!) And I agree that life is too short!! xo

  • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    After chemotherapy everything about my hair was a nightmare, different color and texture, I couldn’t style it, couldn’t find the right color. Finally I bit the bullet and went to perhaps the best colorist in the world… Rita Hazan in NYC. She does everybody! Money well spent. Now my base color looks great, and I have subtle highlights. Thank you, Rita! xoxox, Brenda

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Your hair is fabulous. Mine is temperamental hair. It ranges between awesome and hideous so good cut and colour are essential. Rita is a keeper. I may need to get on a place! xo

    • Kathy Lear April 2, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      I love your hair! After I went through menopause, my base color became a very dark brown, I lost my natural red base, and I have been trying to find a look that is youthful, but doesn’t require too frequent maintenance. I have had my hair highlighted with blonde highlights, but it always looks too obvious when it grows out. I need something closer to my natural color and your hair color is the first I have seen that inspires me. It is similar to the natural color of my youth.
      I have a very sweet hairdresser and I am going to show her a picture of your hair and hope she can come close to that look. Wish me luck!

  • Esther Zimmer March 9, 2017 at 9:32 am

    “It’s an active part of my self-care to not have rude service people in my life” – oh Jen, I could hug you for this! Because self-care is about more than just hair and nails (I’ve got a blog post coming about this in the next month or so). Anyway, I’ve coloured my hair since I was 18 so I know that whilst these aren’t big problems in the scheme of things, how we feel about our hair colour and colourist does matter. And I’ve never experienced the trauma of hair loss, but I’ve always thought of making my own locks look as nice as possible a kind of gesture of gratitude to The Universe for what I do have. Esther xx

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

      I knew you’d get it, Esther. I see women being treated rudely by shop people, stylists and I just don’t get it! I love your view that good self-care is a gift of gratitude. What a wonderful way to think about it! xo

  • Sara R Cornell March 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    OMG, you just summed up my life in 500 words or less…!

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

      I think we are on a parallel life track somehow, Sara, because I always feel the same way about your words! xo

  • Heather Lindstrom March 10, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Hair is one thing we wear all the time, so getting it right feels important, Jen. I have a similar hair profile as you. The dreaded roots are always my issue. The grays tend to be color resistant so the roots fade out way too quickly. I color my own roots at home-it’s easy and it has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. Have you tried balayage for sunkissed highlights? That might just give you the Parisian look you are going for–sounds beautiful, Jen!

    • Jen Lawrence March 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I had BGB, Heather: Balayage Gone Bad. That’s why I switched away from a previous previous salon. It looked like a 4 year old had attacked me with a bleach crayon lol. I think in the right hands, it could look stunning though. I love your hair. Maybe I should try the at-home route! xoxo

  • Mamavalveeta03 March 10, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Jen, I’ve been waffling about growing out my gray vs. getting a full-on color or just subtle highlights to blend. I ended up feeling too blah for my personality when I tried to go gray. I’m just not there yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be. But I found a GREAT hair stylist that does this magical thing with root touch-up and a teensy bit of balyage around my face that allows me to go 3 months between color! It works for me. I think you’ll just have to find what works best for you through trial and error. But find the BEST stylist you can afford! (Check out my look, if you want, on Instagram @Mamavalveeta03)

  • Andrea Bates March 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I don’t have much of a say re: what you decide, because I think it’s ultimately truly your call. What will you feel your best in? Your most powerful? Your truest self? Find that and decide from there.

    Consult with your new stylist when you find them. Opt for small steps towards a different look and you’ll know!

  • Donna O'Klock March 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Jen –
    I’m sorry you were treated that way, how completely unprofessional! As far as color, a toner could eliminate brassiness, and lowlights can pull your colors all together. Doing consultations with a few stylists (check reviews on Yelp!) to get a feel for them, their work, and the environment first is always a good idea.
    My best suggestion: Go someplace nice to shop, and find someone there with hair similar to yours, whose hair you love – whether it be a customer or a sales person- and ask who does their hair.

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