No trip to New York is complete without a visit to my favorite hairstylist Leona Wilson owner of LW Salon in Manhattan. This time I was ready to update my cut and style with a bit of color. I had played with highlights and color before but this time I wanted to go bolder. I realize that for many the idea of “lightening up” might not be such a big deal, after all it’s only hair and it can be changed but for me it was a decision that I carefully weighed for many months before committing. My reservations ranged from the potential damage to my hair from the color in addition to my relaxer, the maintenance of the color with my London stylist and finally the biggest concern of all was how my colleagues would perceive such a bold change and how it might influence my career. I am keenly aware of the dynamics of the beauty standard within the conservative culture of financial services and how it can affect how Black women are perceived and even impact their opportunities in front office roles.
Despite all of these concerns I decided to finally find out if blondes really do have more fun. Before I arrived in New York I sent my stylist a picture of the color that I wanted to achieve. When I arrived at the salon I had a “halo” relaxer and then careful not to stress the newly relaxed hair the color was applied to the crown of my head. The color was applied in 2 sections and rinsed in between to avoid over-processing my hair as it “lifts” quickly.
I have to admit that at first glance I was shocked at how drastically different my hair looked with the new color and I had a fleeting feeling of panic and regret but the colorist assured me that the final result would be more toned down. In the worst case scenario, if I wasn’t happy with the final color I could have it toned down further during another visit before leaving New York.
I decided to delay my judgement until my hair was styled and finished. She was right that my hair didn’t look as bright once it was finished but I still needed some time to adjust to the new look as well as to test my new hair color in the office.
It’s been a month since I’ve gone blonde and I’m loving it. The reaction from my family, friends and colleagues has been complimentary. It has stood up to the salty beach air of Martha’s Vineyard, sweating it out in the gym and on long runs and subsequent flat ironing to whip it back into shape without the damage that I had feared. It was a small risk that in hind sight seemed much bigger than it was and I’m glad that I did it.