I’m best friends with Beyonce now. Casual.
Did that get your attention? Because that was totally a lie. What isn’t is the fact that Beyonce’s trusted colorist, Rita Hazan, who gets Bey’s hair from honey blonde, to black, to light blonde, also bleached mine the other day.
Yes, I’ve been touched by an angel.
Full disclosure: Rita Hazan isn’t actually a stranger. If you didn’t know, the celebrity colorist, who’s Jessica Simpson’s blonde whisperer, who’s worked with Uma Thurman, Katy Perry (remember all of her wacky colors?!), Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and more, even has her own hair care line sold at Sephora. She’s been my friend for almost a decade, transforming my jet black hair to lavender (when that wasn’t trendy just yet). She’s transformed my hair to every color in the rainbow from cobalt blue, champagne blonde, paper white, royal purple, and even hot pink. But I hadn’t seen her in years after I decided I’d rock my natural hair.
Fast-forward to last week, I decided that it was time to change up my lewk for the summer. My hair hadn’t been processed for months and it was almost as if my scalp was just itching to get burned by peroxide. So I casually asked Rita if she’d be up for doing my hair again, you know, like old times. She agreed and we documented the entire process. It wasn’t pretty. Actually, there was an ugly cry involved. Going blonde isn’t a seamless, easy transformation. It takes a lot of patience, time, and it can be really painful, but totally worth it, in the end.
If you’re looking to get your hair from jet black to blonde, here’s a play by play of what ~really~ happens when you’re bleaching your hair.
Firstly, for context: Here’s me, all moody AF living my best life as a virgin black Korean-haired male.
I arrive at Rita Hazan’s swanky salon in NYC’s midtown exactly on time, which is super weird for me because I’m usually at least 10 minutes late. With this NYC subway delaying more than 70,000 trips this year, Governor Cuomo is seriously messing up my steeze. I sit in the lobby, change into a silk robe, and get ready to get into my chair.
I sit in Rita’s chair and am shaking, preparing for the worst. I love seeing her but literally, the last time I went from jet black to blonde, it made my entire scalp scab over. We talk and I tell her that this is for a story and to seriously do a double process without remorse. We’re in it to WIN IT, RITA! She agrees.
Rita coats my forehead, ears and the surrounding areas with an anti-burn cream. When you’re about to get your hair bleached, Rita says to make sure you don’t wash you hair for an entire week before. If you do, it will completely mess up your scalp. The natural oils protect and coat your scalp from damage. Good thing I’m mostly a no ‘pooer (no shampoo, NOT a non-pooing person, lol) and haven’t shampooed in about three weeks.
We start with our first process. Rita first goes into the roots as they will turn blonde the quickest from being closest to your scalp and with body heat. Heat makes the bleach work better and allows it to seep into the follicles. She then coats the entire head of hair with it, wrapping it with clear plastic.
After 15 minutes, my hair has already turned into a brassy blonde. It’s working. It’s working!!!
On the dot, Rita then starts coating my entire head with bleach. I’m bracing for the worst but there’s actually zero pain.
An hour passes by and I’m chill AF. Literally, no pain. Rita asks if I need to take the bleach out and informs me that I seriously need to tell her if I have any discomfort. It’s really not painful, I tell her.
Rita puts me under a heat lamp for a few minutes and then decides to wash the first coat off. We then head into the second round of bleach and I’m seriously chill AF!
We go into round two and my hair is less brassy and more yellow. I’m seeing that this transformation is going well. As you can see below, hair is getting to a platinum blonde, which is our goal. A second round of bleach will only make it turn faster.
Rita sets the clock for 10 minutes. “Tell me if you have any pain!” I tell her that I can withstand ANYTHING for beauty. Beauty is pain. Pain is beauty. Pain is life. BRING IT, PAIN!!!
I ask for Advil JUST IN CASE I CAN’T GET THROUGH IT. I know that pain is going to start in a few minutes…
“It burns, it burns, it burns!” I mutter, biting my lip. The pain is excruciating at this point. So much so I’m getting goosebumps. I start drinking my seltzer water and squeezing my hands to distract me from the pain. I feel as if my scalp is on fire. I usually have a HIGH tolerance for pain but this is on another level. Have you ever had a fire ant bite your flesh? This feels like hundreds are picking apart your scalp so that they can get to your brain. “Rita, I need this off!!” I yelp.
After rinsing the second round off, Rita says the color is still yellow. Instead of bleaching my sore and very raw scalp, she decides to put foil on it instead. Then, we’ll go under a heat lamp so that the bleach gets through.
Here I am with foil around my hair. Yes, it’s definitely a lewk. My scalp no longer hurts and I’m chilling under this heat lamp.
A couple minutes later, Rita comes over and inspects the hair inside the foil. It looks good, she says. We proceed to rinsing the bleach off again.
Then, she adds toner. If you haven’t bleached your hair before, toner is essentially what you need to get rid of the brassy and yellow tones. It’s super important you do this step as your hair will not look blonde, rather, a sad yellow.
We decide last minute that we’re going to go PEACH for the summer. Rita mixes the color and quickly adds onto my head.
After allowing the color to dye my blonde hair, I realize I AM HERE FOR THIS LOOK.
We are almost there, all we need to do now is wash this color off and dry my hair. Whew! It’s been a day, ya’ll!
Rita shampoos my hair, conditions it and then we dry my hair together.
As I walk out of the salon, I can’t help but feel like a completely different person. I feel like a unicorn. A KPOP star. A beautiful outer worldly creature. A star. I feel … like Beyonce.