Committing to a major hair color change is a lot easier said than done. And while we might be willing to use our PTO to get into the salon ASAP (been there, done that), our colorists aren’t always fond of our spontaneity. It’s not because they don’t support our self-expression. It’s because making a dramatic change is not the overnight process we think it is. And, much to our dismay (and desperation), it can take multiple visits to achieve a new look — especially if you go from brunette to blonde. Even in its virgin state, dark hair tends to be stubborn and rebel with shades of brassy orange, so one bleach job isn’t going to do the trick. But, the time commitment isn’t the only thing to factor in when switching up your hair hue. Ahead, we share everything you need to know before making a color commitment.

Make sure you love your colorist

Woman flipping her hair.

Whether you just moved to a new city and haven’t found your stylist soulmate yet or tend to jump from salon to salon, it’s important to find a colorist you love, or at least are comfortable with. “A colorist/client bond is special, and there should be full trust both ways,” says Karly Vincent, a salon manager and academy instructor at Suki’s Hair Salon and Academy in Vancouver, British Columbia. “You have to think of it as building a relationship.” If you haven’t found the one just yet, don’t worry. Vincent suggests doing some research online or asking for recommendations from friends. And, if you find more than one colorist, don’t sweat! That just means you have more options for consultations to bring about your big change. (Photo via Philipp Nemenz/ Getty)

When going in for a consultation, don’t be ashamed to admit you’ve used box dye in the past. Doing so will only help your colorist better understand what they are dealing with and, in turn, help you achieve your goals. “If you already have a color on your hair, the product the colorist uses needs to eat through your artificial layer(s) before even trying to lift your own natural shade,” explains Vincent.

understand your hair’s roots

You might wonder what the beginning of the rainbow has to do with a major hair color change. As it turns out, it has major implications — especially for those lightening their hair. “Clients may not know this, but inside everyone’s hair are three colors: red, orange, and yellow,” notes Vincent. “For someone with extremely dark hair, there will be stronger pigments of red, orange, and yellow than someone with naturally light hair.” Lifting darker hair can be more difficult — and take more time — as those colors tend to put up a fight. “Someone with dark hair may need four to six sessions to go blonde, while someone with a lighter color may only need two to four,” explains Vincent.

remember that Blonde doesn’t happen overnight

Changing up your color doesn’t happen overnight, especially if it’s been previously colored. And, even more so, if it’s been box dyed. But switching up your strands shade isn’t just about the dye job. “My biggest advice is to take things slow,” says Heather Soleil Chow, a stylist at Shannon Hair Salon in Santa Clarita, California. “Making a major change can be really fun and exciting, but if it’s going to sacrifice the integrity of your hair, it won’t be as beautiful as it could be.” Going from one end of the spectrum to the other requires a lot of work from the colorist and the client. “You’ll need the right at-home care to ensure it looks and feels its best,” she says.

and neither does brunette

Blonde woman in front of a white floral wall

Changing up your hair color from dark to light is the most common color change, but it’s not the only one that requires work. Dying blonde hair a darker shade can also be a commitment. “[Switching] from blonde to brunette can require some work, especially if the hair is over-processed or damaged,” says Chow. If you’ve ever seen a brunette with a greenish, muddy tone, you probably know what she’s talking about. According to Chow, you can’t just slap on dark hair dye. “The hair needs to be filled with warmth prior to putting the dark color over it,” she says. That way the color will appear rich instead of drab. (Photo via CoffeeAndMilk/ Getty)

Your hair health might suffer in the process

One of the biggest things to consider when transforming your hair color is how it might impact the health of your strands. “Think of hair as fabric — the more wear on your hair, the more fragile it becomes. When you put your hair through strenuous chemical processes, it will weaken the structure of the hair each time and it can break or tear,” notes Cynthia Diersen, an educator and color specialist for CHI. It’s not unreasonable to go from one color to another, even if it’s a radical change. However, expecting the hair not to suffer from the change is.

Get ready to commit

Going full speed with a hair color change is one thing. But committing to your new color is another. Before you go from brunette to blonde or vice-versa, think about how long you want your new change to last. “The best way to take care of your mane is to commit to one color family for at least four to six months before starting to introduce a 180-degree change,” says Dierson.

Did you recently commit to a major hair color change? Tell us about it @BritandCo!