Once upon a time, there was a brunette named Savage. That isn’t her birth name, obvz, but her dead-end-abundant, box-colored, selfie-unworthy strands suggested otherwise. Savage became an editorial assistant for Mane Addicts in December 2015, but she kept the details of her heinous hair crimes from her coworkers—anyone in their right mind who was about to work under THE Jen Atkin would save themselves the embarrassment and do the same. But brittle ends and next-level root growth (four inches, to be exact) were making it impossible for her to hide her hair track record any longer. Wtf was a savage to do?
Thankfully, Savage’s supervisor is a celebrity hairstylist named Justine Marjan. Deeply concerned about her coworker’s dysfunctional relationship with hair, Justine blessed Savage with a haircut at Mane Addicts HQ, marking the first step in the recovery of Savage’s strands.
Before this drab-to-fab fairytale gets any further, you oughta know that I, Nina Aghadjanian, am Savage, the brunette. Did I mention that the last time I got a haircut was October 2nd, 2015, aka seven months ago aka didn’t I tell you that I was a savage? My strands reached past my chest and I wanted to keep the length, but I was also dying to chunk up the deuces to my dead ends. Pulling #manespiration from Selena Gomez, Justine trimmed two inches off. That’s the moment I realized I had been locked outta hair heaven for too long—damn, she did a girl good (see for yourself).
A bomb haircut only gets you so far—and in Savage’s case, not far at all. Mission: Savage to Cinderella would be impossible without an equally bomb color job. 24 hours later, a sheepish, still slightly-savage-haired me walked into the swanky sitch that is 90210 hotspot Ramirez Tran Salon to see Slim. Jet-setting Olaplex ambassador and celeb colorist, Slim adopted her A1 color skills from MéCHE Salon’s Tracey Cunningham (you know, color whiz behind Khloe K. and Chrissy Teigen’s hairgasmic hues).
My mane desire was to earn back my blondetourage badge and revisit the Malibu Barbie blonde I made my strands suffer through in high school. But my half-Armenian DNA and lightning-fast root growth laughed in my face and said to GTFO with that wishful thinking. Though not as titillating, the next best thing to going full blonde (and obvi, the healthier hair route) meant following in the footsteps of balayage baes like Romee Strijd and Gigi Hadid.
Before Slim started sprinkling her magic, I confessed my sins—my hair hadn’t been colored for about nine months, and when I actually was coloring it, I used boxed color. My savagery knows no end, I know, I know—the crime called for me to kneel and beg the hair gods for forgiveness. Despite my diva tendencies, I’ve sported a fairly low-maintenance mane all 22 years of life, and I asked Slim to keep that in mind when making me over.
First, she threw in golden blonde highlights and added a few lowlights to break up the solid, lighter ends. Next, she balayaged the ends to brighten them and lightened my face-framing pieces. After taking down my root to add depth, she rinsed out the highlights and lowlights before applying an all-over gloss. She balayaged my hairline to make me look like a natural blonde, because, as Slim put it, “No one wants beautiful highlights and dark a** baby hairs.” Preach.
The hair gods must’ve forgiven me, because there are only three words to describe what ensued from seven hours in the salon chair at Ramirez Tran: slayage on steroids. With a fudge ton of foils and supernatural skills, Slim took me from box color-blasé brunette to bombshell blonde like it was NBD. My one way trip from savage to cinderella didn’t stop there—Slim handed me off to hair pro Brian Borg, who added the cherry on top to my freshly cut and colored mane. Brian hit my hair with the hairdryer and gave me lived-in waves, a SoCal native Nina’s go-to. When I took my cape off and spied my lit look in the mirror, I unleashed my selfie monster for a full half hour (proof above) before sashaying my hella fine head of blondish hair out of the salon.
And just like that, I went from Savage to Cinderella in 48 hours.