Many Filipinas feel discouraged to try different hair colors—blonde in particular—because they’ve been led to believe lighter hues don’t go well with morena skin. Still, there’s a whole generation of Pinays who are proving that anyone, regardless of her skin tone, can have blonde hair. We sat down with soon-to-be-law student Bianca Manalang, entrepreneur Kim Sabala, and graphic artist and photographer Suzanne Joyce Jimenez—three proud blonde morenas—to talk about why they decided to go blonde, how they care for their locks, and how they deal with judgements or stereotypes surrounding tanned Pinays with blonde hair.
When and why did you go blonde?
Bianca: I decided to go blonde in June 2018. I was living in Spain at the time and my friend said she wanted to get highlights and asked me to join her. I thought that maybe I should do it too since I'd never colored my hair before. I kind of wanted to do something crazy while I was still living in a foreign country.
Kim: I decided to go blonde in 2017—the same year I launched my men’s jewelry line Cold Gold. I wanted to update my look to make it more on-brand with my business. It was an attempt to look urban and cool, and luckily for me, it did just that.
Suzanne: It was in October 2018, days before I turned 28. I’ve always wanted to have light-colored hair, and since I was celebrating a milestone, I thought, “Hey, it’s the perfect time to try a new look!”
Tell us about the process.
Bianca: I looked for pegs online and found a photo of a blonde balayage that looked interesting. I showed the photo to my hairstylist and, voila, I got my platinum blonde hair!
Kim: I spent hours on Pinterest and Instagram looking at Asians with blonde hair just to convince myself that blonde hair works on someone like me. I consulted friends and my hairstylist about it, and they said, “Aren’t you scared of damaging your hair?” I was. I did a lot of research on haircare for bleached hair, so I ended up getting my sister to bleach it for me while I talked her through it. The first bleaching resulted in a brassy shade—not what I was going for. I let my hair rest for a month as I prepared it for my second and third bleaching—done by a professional hairstylist. Now, it’s a gorgeous ash blonde—exactly what I wanted.
Suzanne: I looked for pegs online and my friend recommended a hairstylist to me. When I found the shade I liked the most—a light gray—I sent the peg to the hairstylist and asked her if that shade would look good with my morena skin. My hair turned out silvery gray at first, but now it looks platinum blonde.
What made you decide to go for your shade of blonde? Did you think it would look good on you?
Bianca: I didn't really decide on an exact shade; I just showed a fairly rough peg to the hairstylist. Honestly, I had no idea how I would look with blonde hair. I was just thinking that it was something new and that it would be fun to look different for a change. I’m really enjoying the look now.
Kim: As a kid, I was made to believe that blonde hair was a big no-no for morenas. I was taught to limit myself to dark hair colors that would match my skin tone. I never understood what was so bad about being blonde and morena, but it did make me very conscious of my hair color choices. I was very careful about choosing my shade of blonde. It took hours of consultations with friends before I finally chose a shade. Now I really want to try platinum blonde—maybe when I feel that my hair is healthy and can take another bleaching.
Suzanne: I was kind of scared to go light because it’s not a common hair color on morenas, and I wasn’t even sure it would look good on me. My hairstylist convinced me to go for it. I was really excited but anxious. But since I took the leap, I’m not so scared anymore—I’ll probably try ash blonde next time.
How do you care for your hair?
Bianca: Pre-coloring, I didn’t really make an effort to fix my hair. But now that it easily dries out, I have to use conditioner and purple shampoo every time I wash it. I also have to comb it a lot or else the strands get tangled up.
Kim: It takes a lot to maintain bleached hair—I only wash it thrice a week and I use Dove Intense Repair Conditioner to help nourish and hydrate my hair. I also get Brazilian Blowouts once a month to make sure my hair looks and feels full and moisturized.
Suzanne: I use Dove Intense Repair Conditioner to help keep my hair soft and frizz-free. I get a keratin treatment once in a while to help rejuvenate my tresses.
How did people react to your hair color?
Bianca: It's been mostly good so far. My friends love it on me! But some people say I look kind of unapproachable with it—I have no idea why! Others have said that they love the contrast between my dark skin and my blonde hair. The best compliment I've received so far is that I look like a Disney princess!
Kim: It’s mostly been positive. I was told that it makes me look edgy! My friends were surprised that my hair withstood all the bleaching. But I’d be lying if I said no one has teased me about it. The older generation thinks it’s a little too much. I was once told by an old man that my career wouldn’t amount to anything because of my “promiscuous” hair. Speaking of career, it’s happened multiple times that I wasn’t introduced or acknowledged in meetings, business conventions, or talks—I probably don’t seem like the typical businesswoman because of my bleached hair.
Suzanne: So far, I haven’t gotten any negative feedback. My friends and officemates say my hair color looks good on me and that I’m bold and brave for going out of my comfort zone.
What's your take on the opinion that blonde hair doesn't look good with morena skin?
Bianca: Everyone is allowed to have her own opinion, which means everyone is also allowed to have her own take on what looks good on her, no matter what other people say.
Kim: I wouldn’t say that’s absolutely true. We’re no longer made to believe that our skin tone limits us to a particular hair color. Nowadays, we are free to pick whatever shade we want.
Suzanne: I understand that not everyone appreciates morena girls with blonde hair. We all have different tastes in fashion and beauty, so let’s just respect each other’s views. If they say anything negative about your looks, just flip your hair and practice the art of deadma.
What advice do you have for girls who want to go blonde but don't think it’ll look good on them?
Bianca: I say go for it! If it’s something you really want, being blonde can help you feel better and more confident.
Kim: We are all free to express ourselves through our hair color. Don’t let any kind of negativity hinder you from expressing yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s your hair and it’s definitely your choice!
Suzanne: Go for whatever makes you happy! If you want to color your hair orange, pink, or lavender, do it. Never mind what others think. As long as you’re happy and you feel confident, go. Life is short!
Sometimes, rigid beauty rules are meant to be broken. Just like Bianca, Kim, and Suzanne, you too can wear your hair your way, regardless of what other people might say. This is what Dove’s My Hair, My Say campaign promotes: that women can stay true to themselves by expressing their individuality through their hairstyles and hair color. You owe it to yourself to celebrate who you really are. Throw your head back, let your locks loose, and do what you want. And remember: You’re beautiful, whether you’re black-haired, brunette, or blonde.
To learn more about Dove’s My Hair, My Say campaign, follow Dove on Facebook.