Brides may have dozens of nightmares—literal or figurative—leading up to their wedding day, and while some are about issues far out of their control (rain, for one), others relate to things they can totally prevent. One of those situations: a bad hair day on the big day. And whether it’s touching up roots, treating your blonde tresses, or adding highlights, dyeing your hair can definitely up the risk factor. Luckily, we've tapped LA-based colorist (of Sally Hershberger Los Angeles salon) Sulekha Hilton for her expert hair coloring advice and the dos and don'ts of dyeing.
First tip: start thinking about your hair color—and “start to move in the direction of your wedding hair goal”—four to six months ahead of the big day. Do not (repeat, do not!) wait until the last minute, the week of, or even a month out if you’re somebody who color-treats her hair. “You definitely want to make sure you look like yourself,” says Hilton, who advises against a dramatic color change before the wedding, unless you’re someone who does that all the time. What she finds is that, “what everyone wants is to be blonder (and longer) for their wedding.”
Also, make sure to stick with one, trusted colorist for the duration of your journey to the altar—this is almost as serious a relationship as the one with your fiancé (joking!...sort of). “Make sure you like them and you understand each other,” says Hilton, adding that any changes should be made slowly and done a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, leaving time for adjustments.
A key piece of advice from the experienced colorist regards extensions, a brides’ favorite wedding-day accessory. If you do plan to use extensions, inform your colorist and schedule an appointment when they can ensure that the extensions will properly blend with your final look—which leads to an important point many people may not think of.
Calling all perfectionists: Hilton says she likes to see what the bride is thinking for her wedding hairstyle “so I can create the color to flow with that shape. Any type of color that is highlighted or not one solid color looks different worn different ways,” she says, “And you can tell your colorist if the wedding will be inside or outside, day or night, and then can help you decide what will reflect best in that type of setting.”
Make sure to have your color done in time for the trial, so you can see exactly how it will look. “Remember,” says Hilton, “you see yourself from the front, but everyone else sees your hair from the side and back” (and don’t judge the color by what it looks like in any restroom, she warns).
Hilton’s ultimate timeline for the final color application before the big day? Get your highlights done seven to 14 days before the wedding. Also, have your base color done (without greys) three to 10 days ahead of time, book a color gloss refresher three to five days out, and head to the salon to get greys covered three days in advance.
And for the love of your future spouse, don’t go into a pool after your final color sesh. “Don’t go swimming!” begs Hilton, clarifying not in a chlorinated pool at least—especially if you're blonde. “If your hair color for your wedding is very important to you, then follow all your hair instructions from your colorist.” This may include a special shampoo and conditioner.
Hilton says your stylist for the big day will have some say in what he or she wants for texture (“they tend to not want it too silky so it holds the style”), but in general, she recommends Sally Hershberger’s 24k line because the shampoo is very cleansing without stripping away the color, while the conditioner is moisturizing, but still gives great body. Blondes without gold tones should look for a violet shampoo like Rene Furterer’s Okara Mild Silver Shampoo, and anyone with a bold fashion shade should use her color-depositing obsession, Celeb Luxury’s Viral line.
Bottom line, “The time leading up to the big day can be quite nerve-wracking and emotional, but don’t wait until the 11th hour to figure it all out,” Hilton says. “Start early. Make lists with time frames. Be prepared. And don’t hesitate to ask your haircare team any questions or concerns you might have, no matter how ridiculous you think they might be.” Furthermore, she says, don’t leave anything out because you might “get in trouble with your hair team. We want you to be your most beautiful self and make the process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.” And just remember—salons double as therapists’ sofas.