This was Josie Laro’s hair before she decided to bleach it; long, dark brown, and clearly very healthy.
When she decided she wanted a change, however, that was certainly what she got.
The 19-year-old from Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA, said she had already bleached her hair twice in the past without any issues and felt very experienced with at-home hair colouring.
But this time the certified nursing assistant knew something was wrong after she started feeling an intense burning sensation on her scalp 20 minutes into the bleaching process.
When checking the bleach, she could smell her hair burning off, so quickly got in the shower to wash it off.
Josie’s hair was falling out in huge clumps when she ran her fingers through it, and what was left was discoloured and heavily damaged.
Josie said: ‘I was really just wanting a change. I had gone dark brown in November last year and was getting really bored of it and wanted to go back to blonde.
‘I had dyed and bleached my hair in the past without any problems.I used the same bleach and developers that I had before. I never expected anything to go wrong.’
Speaking of the moment she realised her hair seemed to be ruined, she said: ‘I kept screaming ‘oh my god, oh no!’. It was really traumatic, and I was freaking out. It looked like a huge pile of spaghetti or noodles in the shower. I felt so sick, it was like something from a horror movie.
‘All their hair on the back side of my head fell off, but the front was the same, so it was all uneven. I was just in a state of shock. Seeing your hair fall out in front of your eyes is just horrific.’
Josie was distraught, and spent three days at home in tears after the mishap, eventually appealing for help on Facebook.
Her call was answered by hairdresser Maleah Dawn Wilkerson from Wildflowers Salon, who managed to resurrect Josie’s hair and transform it into a trendy new style.
What she called ‘barbie hair’ (because it was so damaged and plasticky after the bleach) was turned into a healthy looking long bob after protein treatments and plenty of moisture.
Bleach opens up the hair cuticles to remove the colour. Using an extra high volume bleach or leaving it on for too long can mean the cortex of your hair is exposed, causing breakage and extreme dryness.
Hair that’s massively overbleached can feel like it’s melting away, and have a texture similar to bubblegum when wet.
Everybody’s hair reacts differently to bleach, and it can change for you based on whether your hair’s been coloured before and what condition it’s in.
That’s why it’s normally extra important to enlist the help of a professional, who can assess what your hair needs, and ensure you have realistic expectations when it comes to the colour result.
Josie continued: ‘”I’m extremely happy with the results. Maleah was absolutely amazing and I’m forever grateful to her.
‘I thought I’d had to get it all shaved off or something. But she salvaged it.
‘My plan now is to leave it alone and just let it grow. I’ll never colour or bleach my hair at home again. I’ve definitely learnt my lesson.’