There’s Still Time in Quarantine to Dye Your Hair Blonde

Beauty
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I first heard the siren call 26 days into quarantine. During a 3 a.m. insomnia-induced Instagram scroll, I fixated on Bella Hadid’s 2019 blonde transformation, DM-ing it to ELLE’s beauty and health director with the succinct “Should I?”

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one desiring change while in our Groundhog Day–esque shelter-in-place: Rosalía, Emily Ratajkowski, and Lily-Rose Depp all lifted their hair color within about a month. Kaia Gerber actually did it twice, with a honey debut in the spring, followed by a platinum reveal in August.

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Every time a newly minted blonde popped up on my feed, I took it as a sign from the Gwen Stefani gods. “Social media is a common trigger for beauty impulses,” says California-based therapist Alyssa Mancao, who treats body image issues. Acting on the urge to change your look gives you “a quick hit of dopamine, the neurotransmitter connected to happiness,” Mancao says.

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After 93 days, salons in New York City finally opened, and I booked a video consult with colorist Jenna Perry. I was nervous—I had lightened my deep brown hair once before in the tailspin of a breakup, with disastrous results. But Hadid, who is half Arab like me, looked like a natural blonde after sitting in Perry’s chair, so I felt I could trust her with my tresses, too.

margaux anbouba brunette

The Author With Brunette Hair

Kathryn Wirsing

margaux anbouba blonde

The Author With Blonde Hair

Kathryn Wirsing

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The nine-hour process started with Perry covering my entire head with bleach. She spiked the paste with Sweet’N Low, a hairdresser’s secret to keep the chemicals from burning your scalp. After dramatically lightening my base, Perry hand-painted a custom blend of three shades for a blonde that was darker at the roots—a trick to make the grow-out less severe.

Crown Affair

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Crown Affair
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The moment of the reveal felt like a classic makeover scene in a ’90s teen movie. My hair’s new golden shade, like a potent vitamin C serum, was just the boost I needed. “This is dream childhood sparkly sun-kissed hair,” Perry said as she talked me through coloring after-care—the most important part of being a blonde. I’ve gone through three bottles of Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Strengthening Treatment Oil ($30), and I use the Crown Affair Renewal Mask ($58) twice a week to keep my hair shimmery and golden.

My stagnation anxiety has eased: For a moment every morning, I don’t recognize my reflection. Then, as I remember my metamorphosis, the dopamine wave hits, and I feel lighter, too.

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