Bleach, when paired with peroxide, opens the hair cuticle and lifts pigments out of each strand. In other words, it inevitably inflicts damage and can completely destroy your mane beyond repair if not done right. This is why you should always seek out the pros — qualified colourists who can determine what it’ll take to transform your hair colour with less harm. Moreover, they have on hand the latest products that can help you achieve your desired result.
One range that has recently made its way into (selected) salons is the Shiseido Professional Ultist, which offers on-trend smoky hues and a cutting-edge formula that promises minimal follicular damage. There are seven main shades in the collection — Cacao Brown, Taupe Grege, Charcoal Gray, Bayleaf Green, Indigo Blue, Iris Violet and Mauve Pink — for colourists to concoct to your fancy. Specially developed to control the undertones of Asian hair, these ashy shades are also formulated with hair-caring technologies that restrains protein breakdown and provides a protective veil for longer-lasting colour.
Ever the fan of unnatural hues (I’ve gone full-on blonde, platinum, blue and violet), I walked into Prix Salon at Funan Mall with the hopes of stepping out with a silver balayage. I begin with a consultation with founder and creative director Kevin Neo, who asks about my colour goals as he assesses my current hair condition. Before the chemicals are applied, Kevin gives my strands a liberal spritz of Shiseido Professional Salon Program Pre Lotion C protectant. Bleach and peroxide (a level six, I was told) are then painted on sections of my hair, avoiding the roots, for dimension, then left to lighten in foil for about half an hour. The heater comes on for an additional 10 minutes to speed up the process, and I’m off to the basin for a double shampoo to wash off the bleach.
Back in the chair, Kevin reapplies the protectant spray, followed by various “levels” of Ultist Charcoal Gray (5, 9 and 11) on my just-washed hair. The colours pick up quickly; a minute in and the brassiness from the bleach are neutralised. 10 minutes later, Kevin and his team hit my roots with more dye, which is kept for another 10 minutes. Finally, my hair is washed, blow-dried and curled (but not without a generous dose of heat protectant).
It’s been about six weeks since I left Prix Salon with a smoky silver balayage with icy blue ends. The blue has faded to a gray with violet undertones and the ashy-brown hues are blonder now — which is to be expected. My strands, while they sure aren’t slick and smooth like virgin hair, aren’t as frizzy as I thought it would, thanks to arsenal of Shiseido Professional products (the Colourmuse violet shampoo, Sublimic Luminoforce shampoo, treatment, mask and brilliance oil) that keeps the brassiness and dryness at bay.