Dyeing to be blonde

Some Singaporeans are doing a Kim Kardashian and bleaching their hair blonde

Even during the glitziest time of the year in The City of Lights - aka Paris Fashion Week - Kim Kardashian, reality star and most-followed Instagram user in the world, found a way to stand out - by debuting her new platinum blonde hair.

Her extreme transformation might have drawn unfortunate comparisons to the icy-coloured hair of Harry Potter baddie, Draco Malfoy, but there are no doubts Kanye West's missus has set a new mane trend.

In doing so, she joins the likes of Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and most recently, Jared Leto, all of whom have recently ditched their dark tresses for shockingly blonde transformations.

Some Singaporeans, too, have jumped on the bandwagon and committed to platinum tresses, no matter the cost, time and occasional scalp burn.

Some see it as an expression of their bold, unconventional characters.

Singapore Management University student and part-time blogger Shanice Lim, 22, says her platinum blonde hair is an extension of her vibrant and bubbly personality.

She has dyed her hair nearly every colour in the rainbow but has kept most of her hair blonde for more than 11/2 years.

"Even though the striking colour causes some people to do a double-take, it doesn't bother me. You've got to have the right attitude about it - if you love it, then it shouldn't matter what people think."

It is the same with ex-Singapore Idol contestant and 98.7FM radio deejay Tabitha Nauser, who has a light, whitish blonde do.

The 23-year-old says: "It's definitely statement hair but I think it really suits my skin tone and personality. Being in the entertainment industry, having such a bold look might stop me from booking some jobs but I don't mind - I love my hair!"

Going platinum might be cool, but the process can be a long and painful one. To avoid hurting yourself and frying your hair, experts advise wannabe-blondes to go slow.

Creative director at hair boutique Franz De Paris Prestige Haircare Angeline Tan says lightening your hair should be a gradual process, preferably done in cycles over a few months with ammonia-free bleach and pre-lighteners.

Her salon specialises in helping people achieve a perfect blonde look and stocks high-end products that can lighten hair with the least amount of damage. She estimates that Kardashian, for example, needed to be in her stylist's chair for nearly eight to 10 hours.

Ms Tan, 29, who herself has been rocking a blonde do for nearly seven years, says: "Slapping on a high concentration of 12 to 16 per cent bleach will do the trick quickly but it is extremely damaging to hair and can end up burning your scalp."

Make-up artist Benedict Choo, 39, says the bleaching process can be incredibly painful, like "getting a tattoo". He went platinum blonde a month ago after seeing more people rock the trend on social media and fashion blogs.

"It does depend on your pain tolerance level but the bleach can really hurt if it touches your scalp, especially if you have sensitive skin," he says.

Local rapper Shigga Shay, 23, who has bleached his hair blond more than eight times since October, agrees. "Since I have very sensitive skin and the bleach can thin the skin on your scalp, it hurts more every time I go in to get a touch-up."

Besides touch-ups, bottle blondes also need to commit to special shampoos, treatments and hair masks to keep their tresses healthy. They may even have to change their lifestyle. Blogger Lim, for example, avoids going into chlorinated pools or swimming in the sea to protect her hair from damage.

A bleached look may win you points in the style stakes, but would it help or hinder in, say, a job interview?

It all depends on what job, it seems. Hairstylist Tan says most of her clients who go blonde tend to be from more "liberal" industries, such as the arts, entertainment and advertising.

"Lawyers and teachers can't go to the extreme for professional reasons," she says. "It also requires more maintenance and people with a busy schedule may not have the time to come in for regular touch-ups."

But some employers may be more open-minded than you imagine.

Ms Lim, a business management student, went to an interview for an internship at a headhunting firm last year with purple hair - and snagged the job.

She intends to keep her platinum hair when she starts her full-time job in human resources at a food-and-beverage company later this year, saying: "My bosses don't mind my bold hair colour. I think employers are more concerned about outlandish hair cuts than outlandish hair colour these days."

avarma@sph.com.sg