The Hair Bleaching 411 with Fashion Photographer Andrea Beldua
On products, process and leaping across the dark-to-blonde spectrum
I first met Andrea Beldua in my first year in publishing. We were seated beside each other and introduced by the writer she attended with, but at that point I already had an inkling of who she was (I’m not a creep, I swear.) I had seen her on my Instagram explore page that morning and followed her that same day. I’m not sure she remembers this, but even in retrospect I’m sure there was no second-guessing it. After all, there are only so many people fearless enough to go all-out bleached blonde.
Andrea sticks out in crowds. At fashion events, you could look up from your phone and catch a glimpse of blonde locks disappearing into the tumult of camera-wielding fashion folk. It’s safe to say she’s built a something of a reputation as the petite photographer with a creative eye and colored locks (that seem to be in beautiful condition, no less). But this isn’t the only reason why heads turn in her direction.
Our eyes are naturally drawn to light, which is a big reason why bleached hair colors are so damn covetable. Whether you’ve got a dramatic change planned for your tresses or are just plain curious, read on for stories, products and no-nonsense tips from the gal who’d know best.
When was the first time you bleached your hair?
The first time I had my hair bleached was when I turned 18 years old; that was 6 years ago. At first I wanted to do the ombre style but back then it wasn’t so trendy, so the salon that did it didn’t really seem to understand how to do it properly. It was botched. When I turned 18 though, a few months or so after that fiasco, I had my whole head of hair bleached blonde. It was my birthday gift to myself, haha! My hair was almost at waist length at the time and ever since I have maintained my fully bleached hair. I went from medium blonde to light blonde to gray and now to pink hair!
Take us through that first bleaching experience. What sparked the change of look?
It’s crazy, for the longest time I was so proud that I had really healthy virgin black hair. When I entered college though, that was the time that fashion blogging was becoming a thing so I was following a lot of fashion bloggers. A lot of them had crazy hair colors and I began to really, really want long blonde hair. I felt like it would also make my outfits more interesting! #Issalewk
I remember when I got my hair ombred, I went behind my mom’s back and got it done with my dad (he was far less strict). One day, I just suddenly came home with (ugly, unblended) ombre hair. I looked like a skunk. Fortunately we had it fixed after. A few months after, I decided to go fully blonde and this time, I asked my mom to come with me.
Contrary to popular belief, my hair has always been bleached ONLY once every time I get it retouched or colored, so it wasn’t really as excruciating as what others may go through. But I’ll tell you, when the bleach touches your scalp, it is extremely itchy. They wash it off after 45 mins, after which toner is applied to kill the brassiness. The toner is also uncomfortable on the scalp. Tiis ganda. I ended up with medium ash blonde hair which I kept for a few years! When I transferred salons, I gradually got to a lighter, even ashier blonde.
On to the process: is there anything you do to prepare before bleaching touch-ups?
I NEVER wash my hair every day. It is so bad for your scalp and hair! It dries it out a lot and with bleached hair, you gotta keep the little moisture you have! Having an oily scalp before you get your bleach done also helps with protecting the it during the process. I have my roots done every 2 months. It usually takes about 2 hours or so.
First-timers tend to be turned off by bleaching in fear of it hurting their scalp. In your experience, has the bleaching process ever hurt?
It used to! But now I go to Fendi from Basement Salon Shang and the Aveda bleach and toner he uses does not hurt my scalp at all.
How do you maintain your color and stop your hair strands from turning dry or fragile?
Oh my god, my hair is my BABY. I really do have to be religious about my hair care rituals. First, I only wash every 2 to 3 days. My hair stylist also mixes Olaplex with the bleach he uses—it’s a bond reconstructor of sorts so it really helps lessen the damage the bleach does. I also soak my hair in virgin coconut oil once a week before washing and sometimes [I apply] malunggay oil on my scalp to help with hair growth.
I use different kinds of shampoo and conditioner. I like to mix them depending on what I feel I currently need. For shampoo, I use Dove Oxygen & Nourishment shampoo and I mix it with Gugo shampoo to stimulate hair growth. When I had blonde hair, I also mixed this with purple shampoo—either Lush Daddy-O, Shimmer Lights or L’Oreal Professionel Silver—to combat brassiness. This is very important for blondes.
For conditioner, I rotate between Dove Intense Repair Conditioner, Hask Keratin Protein Conditioner (keratin and protein are important for keeping your strands strong and resilient against breakage!) and OGX Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Conditioner. Sometimes I like to mix them and use different ones for different parts of my hair. I also mixed in a tiny bit of purple dye from Manic Panic when I was blonde, but now I use a bit of Arctic Fox Virgin Pink with my conditioner to kind of refresh the pink I have.
When I feel like my hair has a lot of product buildup, I mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and I rinse my hair with this before I put on conditioner.
After this, I towel dry my hair, run a bit of Hask Keratin Oil all throughout and comb carefully with a wide tooth comb. It is imperative that one uses a wide tooth comb when detangling bleached hair because it is at its most fragile state and brushes will really shed and break your hair. I rarely use heat on my hair. Sometimes I curl the ends with a thick curling barrel, but only when I need to look extra.
Where do you usually get your hair done? Has this been your go-to salon ever since?
I go to Fendi from Basement Salon Shangri-La Plaza. I only discovered him around over a year ago and he is a magician. His work is really clean and consistent. He is also super nice and knows exactly what I need! Such a professional, he has my complete trust.
What is the best hair advice you’ve garnered over the years?
A lot of the hair advice I have gotten is through constant research on my own, trial and error, or [testing out] a lot of products through the years. I guess my top 3 would be to avoid washing your hair every day, to comb carefully with a wide tooth comb while the hair is wet and to use TONS of strengthening & moisturizing conditioner.
What’s next for Andrea Beldua’s hair adventures?
I went from medium blonde to light blonde, to gray for the Dove Dare Challenge and now [I have] pink hair! I think I’ll be keeping this pink for a while; it’s been my dream hair for years and only now did I get the courage to do it. I even bought a bottle of pink hair dye years ago but wasn’t brave enough to go through with it. So yeah, I guess it’ll be different shades of pink for now! Living that Barbie girl life ♡
Art Alexandra Lara.