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Hairstylist Ken Paves' tips for maintaining platinum hair

It's not just the usual suspects — Rita Ora, Megan Hilty, Christina Aguilera — rocking platinum hair. This year we've seen a blond Beyoncé on those Pepsi billboards around town and even perennial brunet Anne Hathaway wearing an icy hue.

Sure, it's easy to make the extreme-color leap if you've got a glam squad on speed dial. But for the rest of us, platinum hair is a hassle to get and maintain. Celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves, whose new book "You Are Beautiful: A Beauty Guide for Real Women," went on sale June 4, has some tips for brave blond-wannabes.

First, do a hair-health check

"I'm all about healthy hair, and when we're lifting [lightening] someone's hair, we really keep in mind its health," says Paves, who rose to fame as Jessica Simpson's hairdresser and as a makeover aficionado on "Oprah" and "The Biggest Loser."

He says it's important to visit a professional hairdresser who'll ask what you've done to your hair previously and determine if your hair has already been chemically processed or color treated "to such an extent you can't go platinum."

Be patient

Paves says that those with fine-textured, already-light hair, like the woman he made icy platinum in his July O Magazine spread, can expect to lift to platinum in a couple of hours. But "darker, coarser hair or hair that's been chemically treated can take two, three, four to five times to lift, requiring up to two weeks between sessions," says Paves, adding that drugstore formulations usually don't have enough power to turn dark hair to platinum.

Going too extreme or too fast can cause breakage, hair loss or even chemical burns.

Pick the right shade

Paves has worked with Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Celine Dion and Megan Fox. He and his team have even taken Eva Longoria (who wrote the forward in his book), Jennifer Lopez, Eve and his Filipino-Portuguese mother to different shades of blond.

As dark hair is bleached to platinum, "It goes through red, then orange, then blond and then it's important to get it to a color that's beyond yellow, even lighter than you want it, sometimes almost white," says Paves. "Toning it afterwards is about customizing the shade to enhance your complexion."

Get wiggy with it

Often, Paves has clients try out platinum hair with extensions or a wig to make sure of what really works. "It's so much easier on the hair and easier on the person when you do," says Paves. "You remove the fear out of it, and it's easier for the woman to try something new."

On performers, whose hair may be styled multiple times daily, he also uses seamless wigs and extensions to minimize damage, even if their natural hair is dyed platinum.

Maintenance: It's a trade-off

"I can get you super-blond, but if you're going that far you have to pull back on everything else," says Paves. This means probably wearing your natural hair texture — no straightening or perms. Deep conditioning at least once a week is also a must.

Paves says platinum hair is very fragile because you're blasting the cuticle to get to the right color. "So you don't want to perm it, flat iron it, press it, stretch it, burn it, blow dry it and wash it all of the time or you will have a platinum pixie cut whether you want it or not," he says. "Mark my words."

Not for the fickle

"Going platinum is a huge commitment. This is not a one-time date; this is a relationship," says Paves. "Because once you go to a color like platinum it's going to take a while to go back."

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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