Bleach Odyssey

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After a decade’s procrastination, Emily Dinsdale steps out of the dark and into the light.


I’ve only ever wanted my hair as black as Elvis Presley’s or as permafrost blonde as a Hitchcock leading lady. Nothing in between has ever captured my imagination.

Throughout my late twenties I flirted with the idea of going blonde but was plagued by concerns – that it wouldn’t ‘suit me’, or that my hair would be trashed. Plus everyone seemed to think it was a shit idea and helpfully inundated me with bleaching disaster stories. I never found a colourist I trusted. Usually they were so pessimistic about my hair surviving the rigours of peroxide that they scared me off. Or were so cavalier I vowed never to allow them and their devil-may-care attitude anywhere near me with a bottle of bleach. Also, when I was younger, my fragile sense of self was too allied to my own dark hair and my dark-haired lineage; I feared dramatically altering my appearance, lest it precipitate some sort of identity crisis. And I was shy. So for all this, and twenty thousand other reasons, I always lost my nerve.

Then, earlier this year, during a casting for a modelling job, I was asked if I’d consider having my hair bleached. I said yes in a way that probably sounded impulsive to anyone who didn’t know I’d been agonising over this exact thing for the best part of a decade.

On the morning of the appointment I had several changes of heart/quite severe panic attacks. In the Fudge in-house salon, Tracy Hayes (Fudge Global Head of Technical Training and acknowledged hair bleaching wizard) assessed my black-tinted hair with a seriously arched eyebrow. ’I can make you blonde,’ she said. ‘It’ll take all day but I can make you blonde.’ Sensing my quiet panic, she added, ‘Every woman should be blonde once in their lives. If not now, when?’

If not now, when? Tracy was right. Why should I imagine my future self will be braver than my present? What was I waiting for?

It took nine hours of painstaking foiling, application, washing out and reapplying to make me blonde. It’s an unpleasant process of intense scalp discomfort, but thrilling all the same. Beneath the foils, as if by some actual magic, I saw my hair changing colour. It’ll never be the glacial, moon blonde of Jean Harlow, it’s too naturally dark, but Tracy miraculously lightened it up to something Tipi Hedren would’ve been happy with.

As a blonde, I haven’t noticed any radical increase in attention from strangers. But I have noticed that bleaching my hair has shifted my own perception of myself. It’s invigorating to alter your appearance in some elementary way. And it’s changed my lifelong habit of always deferring things I want to some unknown point in the future.

Now, where’s this ‘more fun’ I was promised?



Bleaching inevitably damages your hair, no matter how good the colourist is, and you must take steps to look after it. It’s like taking on a part-time job, working as your ailing hair’s carer. Not only is this work unpaid and labour-intensive, it actually costs you money. Here are my best buys for blonde hair:


234627523Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor, £28, John Masters

Everything I’ve tried by John Masters so far has been wonderful. This Honey & Hibiscus treatment smells incredible (a botanical, Aveda-esque smell) and leaves your hair super soft.

PCARE649Malibu Miracle Repair Treatment, £1.69, Sally Express

These sachets were recommended by Tracy Hayes and they work a treat. They’re also available in a formula specifically designed for blondes  but I prefer the Repair Treatment.

PCOLOURACC63Processing Caps, £4.79, Sally Express

Do yourself a favour and buy some of these. They help hair treatments to work more effectively and, take it from me, it’s much easier and less mental-looking than cling-filming your head.

10304089-1704302098787387Redken Extreme Strength Builder, £16.50, Look Fantastic

Redken are an excellent haircare brand in general. This treatment is designed to fortify your hair and it’s perfect for over-processed, trashed blonde locks.

fudg0091h_1_lFudge Clean Blonde Violet Toning Shampoo, £9.41, Fudge

This is the most effective toning shampoo on the market, I’m so impressed with this product, it neutralises yellow tones like nothing else. Whenever I use it people remark on the difference and ask if I’ve hair bleached my hair again. But be careful not to use this (or any other toning shampoo) too frequently as it’s not necessarily great for the condition, and make sure not to leave it on more than the recommended five minutes unless you want a purple rinse.

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