How To: Be An Asian Blonde in Paris

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I’ve been blonde for almost five years with some detours to pink, blue, green, grey, violet and now, orange/red (it was supposed to be “cayenne spice”). I could probably write a book on coloring hair, but this post will have to do because that sounds like a really boring book.

I’m Korean with brown (not black) hair, but my advice applies to anyone who wants to go from dark to very light, whether you live in Paris or not—though we fake Parisian blondes have some geo-specific issues.

  1. Find the right stylist. One who doesn’t look at you in horror when you say you want to go blonde.
    This has gotten easier in the five years I’ve been bleaching my hair. For a long time, Paris stylists refused to entertain the idea of turning me blonde. I kept insisting, dragging out a decades-old photo from when I went blonde for an “Anyone Can Be Blonde” Glamour magazine story. I now have two colorists who make house calls. (If you want their info, email me: maggie@leslolos.com.) Friends say these Paris salons will do crazy colors. Where were y’all seven years ago?
    StylePixie Salon
    Messieurs-Dames (ask for Yumi)
    L’Atelier Blanc (where Kim K. went to go platinum)
  2. Clear your calendar. Going blonde is a multi-layered commitment and one of the biggest layers is time. If you have very dark hair, it can take two days to go blonde the first time. I get my roots done every five to six weeks, but my hair grows really fast. If you don’t mind the Madonna-in-the-80s dark roots look, you can go longer between appointments. Every root touchup takes three hours.
  3. Start a blonde hair fund. It’s not cheap to completely change your hair color. The first time will run upwards of €200, depending on the salon, and root touchups are €100 and up. This is for straight-up, all-over blonde. If you’re going for the Jennifer Lawrence with highlights, lowlights, etc… that’s going to run in the €300-400 range. If you regularly gets haircuts, add that to your hair budget. I justify my coloring habit by only getting cuts once or twice a year. You’re also going to spend a fortune on purple shampoos, deep conditioners, hair masks and oils (see below).
  4. The color purple. Brassy hair is every fake blonde’s fear. Purple shampoo takes the yellow out so your color stays ashy. But don’t use it too often (about twice a week) because it can also dull your color or give it a purple tint, depending on how white-blonde you are. Here are some well-known brands (oh yeah, I’ve tried them all). Use this link for 25% off the first three products at the online store where I stock up. The other two have separate links for where to buy:
    Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo and Conditioner
    Shu Uemura Color Lustre Cool Blonde
    Redken Blonde Idol
    Bleach London Silver Shampoo and Conditioner
    Christophe Robin Baby Blonde
  5. Condition like crazy. You will never just shampoo your hair and go. Bleached hair is dry and brittle, especially if you’ve been doing this for years. In addition to using a deep conditioner (sometimes purple, sometimes not) every time you wash your hair, use a hair mask at least twice a week. I never blow-dry my hair but if you do, make sure to use a heat protection spray or oil. Again, your hair is fragile. The less you mess with it in terms of dryers, curlers, etc, the better. These are some of my favorites. Use this link for 25% off the first three products:
    Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer
    John Frieda Frizz-Ease Miraculous Recovery Intensive Masque
    Macadamia Deep Repair Masque (this is a new one I’m trying and I love it so far)
    Mise-en-Scene Perfect Repair (my mom sends this direct from Korea, but you can order it at this link)
  6. Olaplex is everything. Olaplex was created by a chemist and it supposedly rebonds damaged hair. Your stylist will use it with the bleaching product and as a post-color treatment. Then you use a bottle at home once a week. I’ve only had Olaplex in New York salons, but I think a few Paris salons now carry it. It definitely makes a difference. Hair is softer and less damaged. For people with fine hair, it’s a godsend because you can go platinum without your hair disintegrating. You can buy Olaplex in France now!
  7. Ignore the comments. This one’s mostly for the Asian blondes. For awhile, I felt like the only Asian blonde in Paris, except when Korean supermodel Soo Joo was in town for Fashion Week. Things have changed, but I suppose it’s still unusual to see an Asian blonde. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “I’ve never seen a Chinese blonde before,” from various men (always men) on Paris streets. I sometimes answer, “You still haven’t. I’m Korean.” (They don’t get it.)
    A few years ago, Dman and I were shopping for a new couch and wandered into a store in the 8th. We looked around and I sat down on a couch right in front the manager’s desk, who appeared at that moment. Dman spoke to him about our previous BoConcept couch. The manager told him in a booming voice, “That is made-in-China junk. It’s cheap and falls apart like everything made over there.” I swiveled my head around right then. The manager saw my face and turned the shade of a ripe tomato. He apologized and offered us major discounts on a couch. Of course I was thinking the whole time, “You’re so right about made-in-China junk!” We still took the discount.
  8. Enjoy! Do blondes have more fun? All I know is I feel kind of faded with my current red hair so I’m dying to get back to platinum—despite how much my daughter, husband and MIL prefer me with darker hair (sorry, fam).

Any other fake blondes want to chime in with advice? Leave ’em in the comments or on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. And sign up for our newsletter for everything you want to know about Parisienne life.

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Maggie Kim

Maggie Kim is a writer, musician and the founder of LES LOLOS.

2 Comments

  1. Ivé been going to Yumi in Messieurs Dames for quite a while. She’s fantastic, superbe coloriste! Very happy to have some hair care products recommendations from you. My hair is a bit damaged from all the bleaching. Haven’t got the balls to cut it all off..yet!!

    • Maggie Kim

      I’m going to have to check Yumi out! Though I love the convenience of having people come to my house. Yes, try some of the deep conditioners. They’re really good.

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