Freelance graphic designer and illustrator Nicole Kurtz loves changing her hair. Her mom would give her braids growing up, and she wore wigs, weaves, and protective styles through high school and college. Now, as an adult, Kurtz is looking to fully embrace her natural hair — and she wants to "level it up" with bright-blonde color.
In this week's episode of Refinery29's YouTube series Hair Me Out, Kurtz visits West Hollywood's L&M Salon for a spring makeover. She meets with colorist Milena Rose Ghattas and curl specialist Felicity Smith, who work together deliver a total hair upgrade: bleach-blonde highlights and a scissor-shaped haircut.
The goal with the color is to take Kurtz blonde, but not platinum. "We're going to make it dimensional and use a lot of honey-warm tones to complement her skin tone," Ghattas explains. The process involves precise bleach application to every strand of hair using foils, then toning the color to "break the base" and ensure that the blonde blends seamlessly with Kurtz's dark-brown root tone for a soft, natural result.
For the cut and style, Smith's work is equally precise. "With curly hair, shape is everything," she explains while dry-cutting Kurtz's hair, working curl by curl. Afterward, Smith applies a leave-in deep conditioner to hydrate Kurtz's curls and lets it process for ten minutes before using a diffuser to finger-comb her hair completely dry.
In the end, Kurtz is floored by the transformation. "I didn't even know what to expect when I looked in the mirror, but I was amazed when I did," she says, flipping her hair to reveal perfectly defined light-blonde curls. "This will definitely boost my confidence — and I think it will help me continue to level up."