'I've been bleaching my hair for three years straight. Here's exactly what I'm doing to repair it.'

A few years ago, in the midst of a messy separation, I went for my regular hair appointment, for my regular half-head of foils… except when the colourist said to me, 'Okay, so what are we doing with your hair today?' the words 'Chop it all off and bleach it' just fell out of my mouth. And I committed to it.

Image: Supplied.

Not gonna lie, it was a good few years. I loved being platinum blonde. 

When I was 14 and Marilyn Monroe-obsessed, my best friend from high school, Holly, bought me a beautiful book by Joanna Pitman called On Blondes.


One line from the book stood out to me the most: 'Being blonde is like walking around with your own personal spotlight.'

Not only did bright, platinum hair make me feel effortlessly glam and perma-lit, but it was also a veritable playground for other fun colours. 

A quick once-over with a pastel-pigmented shampoo could instantly turn my hair shades of rose gold or baby pink, and in a mere six shampoos more, it had pretty much washed right out.

Image: Supplied.


It was a good few years, not gonna lie. But as Nelly Furtado once sang, all good things come to an end.

As much as I wanted to, I just could not keep up with the scalp bleach every six weeks. Then the toning, which took almost as long as the bleaching. Then all the special purple shampoos and conditioners which made a right effin’ mess of the shower, and feeling like if I so much as lightly straightened my hair, it might all just snap right off.*

*I actually never suffered any loss of condition or breakage, though, but more on that later.

All I wanted was a cheap, low-maintenance life and to wash my hair with shower gel if I so chose. So… for about 16 months I didn’t set foot in the salon. AND THE ROOTS ON ME, let me tell ya.

Growing out bleach ain’t easy. It’s an investment in time, a practice of patience, and an unwavering acceptance of terrible-looking hair. Or is it? 

Absolutely horrified by the state of my head during what should have been a lovely family photo shoot, I then RACED back to my hairdresser, Stevie (from Stevie English Hair in Glebe), with my dark-rooted head hung in shame. 

He’s been my colourist for the last 12 years - so if anyone could hold my hand and baby me through this literally dark period of my hair’s life, it was him.

And as it turns out, you know what the secret to growing out blonde is? GOING BLONDE.


I know!

I was as prepared as I could be for going au naturel. I truly believed my only option in sorting out the absolute mess atop my head was dying it all dark blonde / brown and living my life outside of the bright blonde ‘spotlight’. 

'You’re still fabulous' I told myself, as I sank ruefully into Stevie’s colouring chair. 

But he came at me not only with a can of beer but with a REVELATION. There were several ways to ‘grow out’ bleach blonde hair, and in his expert opinion, by far the most impressive was a little colouring technique called ‘face-framing’.

Image: Supplied.


Wait, what is face-framing?

Essentially, what this means is clever sectioning.

You put a few sneaky highlights around your face, so you still clearly identify as ‘a blonde’ but a much more natural version of. The sectioning involves a bit of skill - following the hairline and doing finer highlights than you usually would, to add just a little bit of lightness, more softly.

Stevie admits that while ‘darkening’ is an option, it can be bloody confronting and significantly un-fun. 

"You could darken the ends but you would probably be sad. In theory, you could get close to the natural colour, but realistically, it’s a massive shock. Most people like the idea of natural, but they don’t actually, really, want to be their natural colour. Everyone just wants to be a slightly better version of themselves."

(Or in my case, Marilyn, but yes, true.)

"Growing it out is not about restoring hair to close-to-your-natural colour - it is simply easing the transition while it gets there by itself."


I swigged beer and Stevie carefully painted lightener onto craftily selected pieces of hair, explaining that when growing out any hair - bleached or otherwise - preserving its integrity is *key*.


"Condition is everything. Bleached hair is usually pretty f***ed, and in 30 years of hairdressing, I haven’t seen anything that yields results like K18. To the detriment of my income, considering I could get a commission for recommending this or that, it’s really hard to say ‘yeah use this’ about other products when K18 is so good."

THIS is why my hair never snapped in all the years I bleached it. 

I think I first posted about K18 in the You Beauty Facebook group a few years back when TikTok didn’t exist, a Kardashian hadn’t spruiked it and it was still going by ‘khairpep’ - it's old name. 

It’s got a spunky new rebrand now, but it is still the same EPIC formula, using a patented peptide to penetrate the hair’s core structure and reconnect broken bonds.

I don’t know if he was referring to me when he said this, or just having a choice British way with words, but Stevie reckons it can ‘turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse’ - so I made a mental note to buy some more on my way out the door.

Image: Supplied.


As you can see, this is the end result. I’ve still got regrowth, but it is BARELY NOTICEABLE. 

I continue to identify as ‘blonde’. 

If everything goes to plan, while I’m deceiving absolutely everyone with a few lighter bits at the front, the bleach is still plodding along, slowly but surely (with the help of K18) growing longer and longer until eventually it will be gone entirely. 

Then I can either wean myself off of ‘face-framing highlights’ or, you know, just keep getting them! After all, it was Marilyn that said blondes have more fun.

Carly Sophia is a freelance writer from Sydney, you can connect with her on Instagram here.

Are you trying to grow out your bleached blonde hair? What's your technique? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Supplied.

Love all-things beauty? Take this short survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!