After years of playing with boxed blonde hair dye and my fair share of embarrassing orange hair moments, I knew it was finally time to step into the big leagues. Which is why I decided to finally go pro and hit up a salon to transform my hair into a blonde balayage. The one thing I didn’t realize was how long it would take to achieve balayage before and after. Trust me guys — it’s a process. If you’re considering balayage, here’s everything you need to know to get that perfect blonde.

Blonde balayage is worth the wait

Let’s get the basics out of the way. I started out with black, processed, straight, stubborn Asian hair. And because of this, it took me three years to achieve the blonde balayage highlights that I so badly wanted. Because of my hair’s starting state, my colourist suggested that we go through a slower, multiple appointment process so as not to damage it. This was the healthiest way for my hair to achieve the final blonde colour. I decided to embrace this process and it was kind of fun because it felt like I was trying different shades of ash brown and blonde along the way.

Pro-tip: Before you start, always consult your stylist when making a dramatic hair change. The health of your hair should always be considered.

Deep conditioner is your new BFF

The bleaching process takes a toll on your hair, and the best way to retain moisture is by using a deep conditioning mask once a week. I love using my Briogeo hair mask when my ends need a little TLC. Apply a generous amount to your ends, and leave it in for five minutes while you do your body scrub or shave your legs. Easy peezy.

Purple Shampoo is key to keeping your blonde brilliant

Can’t make it to the salon? A good purple shampoo is an easy way to stretch the time between appointments. Instead of heading to the salon for a toner appointment, you can use this magical shampoo once a week and get a similar effect. The purple tint temporarily tones out any brassy or yellowing parts of your hair and gives your blonde a quick refresh. I love using my Kerastase version.

Get regular trims, or if you’re bold enough, do it yourself

Getting trims every eight weeks helps prevent breakage while also keeping your colour looking fresh. Whether you decide head over to your salon or DIY it, a quick snip every few weeks is the way to go. If you are good with scissors, there are tons of helpful YouTube tutorials that can teach you a no-fail way to trim your hair on your own.

Avoid heat hairstyling to maintain blonde balayage

Staying away from the hair dryer and curling wand is the most challenging part of maintaining my blonde balayage. I love the look of a loose wave, and my curling wand has quickly become a part of my getting ready routine. But after a few months of consistently styling my hair with heat, I noticed my hair was getting drier. I now opt for air drying my hair after washing, then putting it into a loose braid overnight to get my wave without the heat damage.

With a bit of patience and info, maintaining your blonde balayage becomes second nature. Thanks to all of these tips, I usually only go twice a year to get a touch up.

Rachel Wong for SliceRachel Spencer Wong is a Canadian Style YouTuber with a love of all things creative! Through the years her channel, RachSpeed has grown into a destination where young women can learn how to cultivate a wardrobe they love while also on a budget.Find her on Instagram @rachspeed