PHOTO: ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES
By the time Leighton Meester, the actress best known for her portrayal of Upper East Side brunette Blair Waldorf, emerged from the hair salon yesterday, enough time had passed that you could have watched almost the entire first season of Gossip Girl. "The appointment took about six hours," colorist Aura Friedman tells Refinery29. As you might have guessed, this wasn't your standard color refresh; rather, Meester was undergoing a full-blown transformation... of the platinum-blonde persuasion.
Her inspiration: actress Jayne Mansfield, who was one of the first Playboy Playmates (and also a natural brunette). "I wanted that old Hollywood glamour look," Friedman says. "Leighton has these bedroom brown eyes, so she needs a softer platinum as opposed to a super cool color so it won't overpower her very soft features. I even left a little shadow at the roots so it wouldn't look like such a stark contrast. She was such an iconic brunette. Now she looks like an iconic blonde."
While it may not be the actress' first foray into brighter pastures — Meester once admitted she almost didn't get the part in GG because her dusty blond hair color was too similar to Blake Lively's — this is the first time she's gone full platinum.
"When she first looked in the mirror, she was basically in shock," Friedman laughs. "But she's in love with her hair. After we did the color, we took some photos and she already had makeup on, but as soon as we were done, she put on a red lipstick. She kept touching herself up in the mirror because it's such a huge difference. That's all part of the fun — when you go through such a major color change, you want to play with different makeup to see what works."
Obviously, going from dark brunette to a bright blonde can wreak havoc on your hair. But Friedman says that Meester left the salon with softer-than-ever texture for two reasons. First, she did what's called a "virgin application" in a single sitting.
"Colorists have a few schools of thought when it comes to the best way to go platinum: Some like to take brunettes to a banana yellow color first; I think it's the least abrasive and damaging to do it in one day," she adds. "I'll lighten it all up right away, leaving the bleach on until it's ready to tone."
Second, she did some serious damage control with the Nexxus Reconstructing Protein Treatment, which has keratin proteins that "repair exactly the kind of damage going platinum can cause," explains Friedman, who is an ambassador for the brand.