The Salon Solved It: Dyeing Dark Hair

Dyeing dark hair can be perilous – trying to achieve a result that’s noticeable but natural isn’t easy. Can Whiteman Soho in London crack the colour code?

I am a very dark brunette and while I like my natural colour, I’ve often found myself looking at other shades, wondering if they could work for me. Scarred by previous dye mishaps, for most of my adult life I’ve been tame when it comes to colour – bar an all over shade some five years ago, I’ve dallied with balayage and loved it but never experimented further. After a spate of beautiful caramel-brown colours inundated my Instagram feed, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go in for a full colour change, so booked in to see Lisa Whiteman, owner of Whiteman Soho in London.

Nestled in the beautiful Ham Yard Village, the Whiteman Soho salon is centred around colour – the first thing you see when you walk through the very trendy glass doors is a creative colour bar. Lisa herself is an international artist for Goldwell Professional and recognised globally for her skills, so I knew my hair would be in safe hands. Prior to my date in Lisa’s chair, I’d spoken to her about what I wanted to achieve and shared some inspo to see if it was even realistic– she assured me it was and so when I arrived, we sat down to finalise the plan.

Can she take me lighter without it looking unnatural?

We decided that to achieve the multi-tonal result I was after, I needed to first lighten my base shade and then bring in highlights in both darker and lighter tones. After browsing through the many swatches and with guidance from Lisa, we opted for a cool mid blonde all over, with ash dark blonde root stretch (I’m low maintenance when it comes to hair upkeep and this would help with regrowth) and a freehand balayage through the mid lengths using beige and a mushroom brown – with a shade strategy locked-in, I settled in for the long haul.

After a couple hours relaxing and being plied with tea, it was time to see the results of the first stage – the base colour reveal! As Lisa undid the foils I started to get a glimpse of a noticeably lighter shade, the colour had lifted incredibly and much quicker than either of us had thought – as my hair dried, a brighter, almost copper-toned colour emerged and I LOVED it. Although tempted to stop at this stage, the maintenance would have been too much for me, so Lisa began toning down the roots. After another trip to the backwash, it was time for the final stage, hand painted balayage, adding lighter and darker shades that would leave me with a subtle brunette rainbow of tones.

Four hours later and there I sat with a warmer, more interesting, lighter colour which crucially, still felt like me. I knew it would take some getting used to as I hadn’t strayed from my natural look for so long but I instantly loved all the different tones. With one bouncy, wavy blowdry courtesy of Grisha, I skipped out of the salon, not feeling the pang of regret I’d had in my teens but smiling at my new swoosh-worthy strands.

Now, a month on, I’m in love with my new look. I thought I’d have to compromise on the condition of my hair, but it’s been kept tip-top thanks to the Goldwell Kerasilk Color range, which has left it as silky and shiny as it was before. I’m so glad I went for it!