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The Exfoliator: Blond ambition

August 8th 2013 / Ahmed Zambarakji


Ahmed Zambarakji hits the bottle and swaps his Middle Eastern dark locks for bleached blond hair

I would like to say I was inspired by the recent slew of male celebrities that have taken to bleach. Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Cam Gigandet and David Beckham (natch) have all purposefully gone platinum, each with varying degrees of success.

But, alas, it was my stylist’s seven-year-old daughter that planted the seed. Watching her mum and I deliberate over what to do about the greys that were starting to sprout around my temples, she innocently suggested I should go blond. Her mother (now pregnant with her third child and perhaps a little hormonally unhinged) and I (just unhinged) both thought this was inspired.

Two days later, I’m back at Hari’s on Brompton Road to see Paul, the acclaimed colourist who has treated the likes of Kate Moss, Sophie Dahl and Kate Beckinsale. It’s a sweltering 30 degrees in the city, I’ve just finished my morning Bikram class and Paul is applying the fourth round of bleach to my scalp. I’m heating up faster than a meatball in a microwave and let out a faint sob that rolls through the first floor of the salon like a tumbleweed, interrupting the glamorous ladies-that-lunch who were vociferously lamenting the scarcity of decent colourists in the Home Counties (clearly, it’s a hard life being blonde).

The pain, of course, is directly proportional to how dark I am naturally. Being of Middle Eastern origins, I have the kind of thick, jet black hair that responds to 40 minutes of hydrogen peroxide by simply going a bit brown. Naturally, the process is a little less agonising – and a lot more aesthetically plausible – if you’re already fair, like Gosling. For me, however, I’ve been catapulted from one end of the colour spectrum to the other. ‘Natural’, this most certainly is not.

Five hours later, and with very little of my scalp left intact, I’m officially done. Beyond the yellow tones of the first two treatments (round two took me from jet black to, er, Chippie Blond) but wary of rocking Mark Ronson’s questionable silver-white tones, we found a blond that worked. Really worked. Granted, I’ve had to drop my skin tone down a few shades (enter James Read’s inspired Sleep Mask product) and I still have a whole bunch of split ends that I need to sort out (by way of Phyto’s fantastic reparative unguents, no less) but at least I found a way to work around the grey hairs.

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