Is Dyeing Your Hair Worth it? 5 Lessons I Learned as a Fake Blonde

Hi, my name is Esme and I'm an ex-blonde.

An ex-platinum blonde, to be exact. I bleached my hair blonde in 2015 and kept it up for five years. I decided to go back to my natural dark brown hair in June 2020 because I felt it was time I returned to my roots. Literally.

Over the years, I've received many questions about dyeing my hair platinum blonde. Questions like, "How much did it cost?" "How often do you have to get your roots touched up?" "Did it damage your hair?" "Was it worth it?"

I understand the curiosity. Many people dye their hair, but not many people talk about the cost or damage of the decision. It's not fun to say, "Yeah, I love being blonde, but now my hair feels like straw." I was always honest when people asked me because I wanted them to understand it wasn't a decision to make lightly. It's a choice that you have to commit to and recommit to if you're going to maintain it. Only you can determine if it's worth it to dye your hair. However, I want to share the lessons I learned as a fake-blonde so you can make an informed judgment.

It's Expensive

Dyeing your hair, especially if you're bleaching it first, is very expensive. The cost will depend on the hair salon and your hair's length, but the price is usually between $150 and $250. It may cost a few sessions to get it to the color you want, depending on your natural hair color and how light you want your blonde. If you wish to get your roots to match your new hair color, you'll need to get your roots done every four to six weeks, and that usually costs $70 to $90.

Next, you need to consider the products you need to maintain your hair. You'll need to invest in hair products made specifically for treated hair like purple shampoo or customized shampoo. I also recommend hair masks because you will need to do deep conditioning at least once a week. You can skip the cost of salon dyeing and roots if you color your hair yourself. I don't recommend that you try dyeing your hair if you need to bleach it, especially if it's your first time dyeing your hair. The bleach can cause chemical burns and there are a million ways it can go wrong. You might be able to do root touch-ups at home, but I highly recommend you get the first dye done professionally.

Shutterstock: woman holding credit card and wearing a white sweater in front of a light blue background

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You Need Patience

Book the day off when you first get your hair bleached and dyed. My hair is dark brown, thick and long, so my first session took over eight hours. Yes, you read that right. It took eight hours and it wasn't even the blonde I wanted. It was yellow and brassy. Your hair transformation might not take that long but plan for at least three hours. Bring your phone charger, your water bottle, snacks and a book. Typically, you will have to go back once or twice to get it lightened to the color you want, although a much shorter time. Once you reach the preferred shade, the monthly root touch-ups will be about two hours. You will need patience as you try to get to your ideal blonde and tolerance as you spend hours in the salon chair.

Shutterstock: woman getting her hair bleached blonde by two hair stylists

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Your Natural Hair Color Will Fight Back

You don't bleach your hair once and never have to worry about it again. You will always be fighting your natural hair color. People who have dark hair will need to rebleach their hair and tone it often. I have very dark brown hair with red tints, so it usually turned my hair a brassy blonde. I need to consistently dye it to keep it the platinum blonde that worked best with my skin tone. You'll have less maintenance if you have light hair, but everyone deals with growing roots. Roots will become the bane of your existence. I started wearing hats to cover my roots and lived for my monthly touch up. The excitement only lasted about a week and a half, and then my roots would show again. Be prepared to battle your natural hair color because, trust me, your hair is stubborn. It may be smart to get an ombre, as roots are less noticeable because they blend into the style.

Shutterstock: hair stylist applying bleach to hair

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The Damage Is Real

Damage is unavoidable with bleach. It doesn't matter how many protective hair products you buy when you're continually putting a strong chemical product in your hair and on your scalp. The first thing you need to prepare for the scalp damage and pain. It depends on the sensitivity of your scalp, but it can be painful the first time. It will hurt as your scalp gets used to it, so expect dandruff and discomfort. If you feel extreme pain or an intense burning sensation, let your hairstylist know right away.

Then there is the hair damage. Split ends and coarse texture are unavoidable. It's normal for people, especially people with brittle hair, to lose clumps of hair. I naturally have thick hair, so even though I lost a lot of hair, it wasn't noticeable. However, what was noticeable were the patches of short hair. My hair became so weak that it broke off in places and left uneven layers. The damage was just from the bleach—I barely used heating tools like straighteners and curling irons. I've been brunette for seven months and I'm still doing damage control. If your hair's quality and health are important to you, this will be your most significant deterrent.

Shutterstock: woman straightening damaged hair

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But… It's Really Fun

If I could go back in time, knowing all I know now, would I bleach my hair again? Without a doubt—yes. It was expensive, time-consuming, frustrating and my hair is beyond damaged, but I loved it! I always wanted to be platinum blonde and life is too short not to do fun things.

But do I miss being blonde? No. I felt it was time to go back to brunette and I'm enjoying it. I don't miss sitting in salon chairs for hours and draining my bank account. There's nothing wrong with dyeing and bleaching your hair. It's fun and it's great to experiment. However, you need to know that it isn't all fun. Blondes don't have more fun. It's the same amount of fun, just a little more expensive.

Shutterstock: smiling blonde woman wearing an orange sweater and holding a coffee
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