Hairstylist Christine Symonds on the perils of going platinum.

An early cover of Vidal Sassoon’s hair cutting guide

When I was in beauty school at the [Vidal] Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica, I begged my color teachers to take my long, dark hair to a shade of icy white blonde. They refused, saying,

‘You can’t go from one extreme to another without doing it gradually.’

I couldn’t wait, so after school one day, my friend and I decided to bleach my hair. I hardly knew how to do highlights, let alone a bleach and tone job; the only coloring practice I had was on a mannequin head. We started slopping on the bleach, and left it on for quite a while as my scalp BURNED.

The first time we rinsed it off, my hair was neon orange, like a hazard cone. You could probably see it from space.

We thought going through the process all over again would fix the color; this time, we left the bleach on extra long, thinking it would finally be white. It didn’t work.

Vidal Sassoon styles Mia Farrow’s hair on the set of ROSEMARY'S BABY, photograph by Max B. Miller

My hair was now a beautiful shade of neon yellow, stretching like cotton candy, and breaking off.

The next day, I went to school with a huge hood covering my head. My teachers knew something was up, and I knew I had to put my hair in their hands to fix it. At the end of the day, they were like: You’re in luck, one of our color correction models cancelled; we will fix your hair but we get to cut it however we want.

Our muse was Mia Farrow. I lost nine inches, but they got me SUPER blonde.

If I didn’t have the stupidity to color my own hair, I wouldn’t have ever taken the plunge to cut it short. After that, I ended up wearing my hair short and blonde for years.

It was a blessing in disguise.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Hairstylist Sarah Potempa has a million dollar idea, colorist Negin Zand takes The Thick Questionnaire.

Farrow’s blonde pixie cut (left and right) inspired Symonds’ platinum crop (center), photographs (from left): Rex Features, courtesy of Christine Symonds, Hulton Archive