The Revolutionary Bleach That Will Take You Blonde Without the Breakage


Vogue

Can the revolutionary bleach behind spring’s buzzed-about blonde moment deliver brighter color without the breakage?

Like a scene out of The Endless Summer, a lithe-limbed, shag-haired crew piled into a van and set off to catch the next wave. But on this mid-September afternoon, the crew comprised eighteen willowy models, and the wave was a hyperspecific pitch of Southern California blonde doled out by colorist Victoria Hunter and orchestrated by Alexander Wang. The designer’s spring 2017 inspiration photos were taped up inside Hunter’s Whittemore House salon in New York—a collage of bronzed, bleached, sun-sprayed surfers that looked like a teenage girl’s bedroom wall, circa 1987.

“The whole thing was like a party,” the model Katie Moore recalls of the casting-turned-carpooling adventure that culminated at the West Village studio, where just last season Hunter memorably reinvented the nineteen-year-old Texas native as a radioactive redhead. It ignited Moore’s career, but the cycle of bleaching and Manic Panic that was required to maintain the shade all but destroyed her hair. Taking the model from a faded summer color Moore describes as “highlighter orange” straight to skate-punk flaxen would have been near impossible were it not for Hair Paint, a new bleaching powder that Hunter has spent two years working on with Larry Raspanti, her Whittemore House cofounder. Infused with botanically derived ingredients, the product gently lifts color while simultaneously strengthening hair’s inner cortex and invisibly encapsulating it like a protective raincoat. Just released, it’s poised to be a breakthrough in an industry that has a love-hate relationship with peroxide.

Going blonde has always come with a certain degree of risk on account of the harsh chemicals required to blast through natural pigment. That hasn’t stopped legions of women from seeking sunnier pastures: New towheads, like Emily BluntKarlie Kloss, a platinum-again Michelle Williams, and House Stark’s Sophie Turner, have littered front rows and red carpets of late, a testament to the fact that what you endure in blonde-induced breakage, you make up for with a firestorm of attention.

For decades, in-salon lighteners have often been combined with bonding treatments intended to repair molecular damage that occurs during the bleaching process. (As a devoted bottle blonde since 1993, I have the split ends to prove it.) Such fixers “actually dilute the formula considerably,” though, says Hunter, which translates to more muted, meh shades. But by tempering high levels of peroxide with a blend of kaolin clay and a nourishing derivative of sugarcane, Hair Paint still gets “insane” lift, she continues even from Moore’s headful of Manic Panic, which was removed in just two applications. Plus, the novel powder formula can be brushed directly onto strands—no need for foils and other time-consuming modes of application. Coupled with a new crop of kinder, gentler shade-shifters and color-maintaining cleansers—including Color.Me by Kevin.Murphy’s scalp-soothing, clay-based Freestyle.Lightener and the hibiscus-infused Colour Protect Shampoo from Grown Alchemist—now’s the time to “be the blonde you want to be,” encourages Guido Palau, the backstage hairstyling force who frequently collaborates with Hunter on the runways’ most directional looks.

Moore, pausing between spring shows to run her hands through her sandy, streaked strands, agrees. “It feels amazing, not at all dry,” she offers, and after a year of full-throttle coloring, she would know. “It’s a reminder of who I am and where I started,” the model explains of the self-confidence that she’s gained by returning to her lighter roots, although there’s no telling where she’ll end up. “I can work any color now,” she says, her eyes brightening. “Just like Linda Evangelista.”

Fashion Editor: Jorden Bickham
Hair: Shingo Shibata; Makeup: Jen Myles
Manicure: Candice Idehen
Special Thanks: Broderson Backdrop

By: Kari Molvar

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