Of course, the trials and tribulations I faced post-apocalypse are long and detailed enough for a novel, but long story short, I was, in the end, able to salvage my blonde hair despite the epic proportion of damage. I poured hours and hours into research, babysitting check after babysitting check into rehabilitation products, and even more hours and babysitting checks at a different salon, getting trims, treatments, and consistent TLC. (The morning after the disaster I went to an Aveda salon where—I kid you not—I became a staff project and am still remembered to this day.)
It took about three years for my hair to bounce back, and up until five years ago—right around when I moved to L.A. to become a beauty editor—I was convinced my hair would never be the same. I still struggled to grow it out, and even though I had cut back on my highlight appointments (I think I went at least six months without getting so much as close to heat or peroxide post-trauma), colorists never seemed to get the tone right and my hair perpetually felt like straw.
Until, that is, I met my two fairy hair godparents, celebrity hairstylist Cervando Maldonado and celebrity colorist Cassondra Kaeding. I met Cervando week one of my job as assistant beauty editor for Byrdie, and (bless him to infinity) he’s taken me under his wing and helped bring my hair to health and lengths I never thought possible as a blonde. He’s the only one I’ve let touch my hair, style- and cut-wise, since arriving in L.A., and I credit his amazing snipping genius and practical hair tips (get yourself avocado or coconut oil and apply it to your ends as much as possible) for reviving my hair over the past two years.
That said, even though my cut and length were on the right track, I was still consistently frustrated with my color (even in as star-studded of a town as L.A.), and it wasn’t until Maldonado introduced me to Kaeding, that I truly felt I had found my long-lost color soulmate. I’ve met countless celebrity colorists thanks to my day job, but Kaeding is one of the most sought-after colorists in the industry right now, and she’s also a complete and utter perfectionist when it comes to her art, technique, and reputation as a colorist. In short, she’s the only kind of person you want to entrust your fragile hair with.
Unlike that colorist back in 2013, Kaeding actually told me she wouldn’t touch my hair with any kind of color during our initial appointment (she’s all about integrity and refuses to administer any risky behavior that could weaken or damage susceptible strands) and despite my disappointment, I waited an additional three weeks on top of the 10 I’d already waited so she could wield her magic. And, wield she did. Not only did Kaeding give me the best blonde hair job of my entire 29 years, but she also kept literally every single hair on my head. My strands have never been so long or so blonde, and everyone I see and talk to (even other celebrity hairstylists and colorists) are truly in awe of how healthy my hair is despite how bleached it is. Kaeding is talented enough to create an enigma out of me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
To celebrate, and because I get so, SO many DMs and questions about how to fix bleached hair, I’m using my own experience as a forever blonde (I refer to myself as an unofficial official color expert) and Kaeding’s legitimate expertise to provide a complete—and hopefully helpful—guide for blonde haircare below. Ahead, all of our combined best tips for how to care for and fix bleached, post-apocalyptic blonde hair. Keep scrolling!