As an Afro-Latina with naturally dark brown hair with orange undertones, I was always told that I could not go blonde. My hair would supposedly not survive the intense amount of bleach required to get the ashy hue I desired — but I not only found someone who did a flawless job, I've discovered the perfect combination of products that have kept it looking as healthy as possible, despite my obsession with blowouts.

Carlina Ortega, senior colorist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, took my hair from this rich brunette...

brunette
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

... to this icy blonde in one session!

blonde highlights
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

You can see Ortega work her magic below.

Even though the finished result looked sleek and shiny, getting my hair to be THAT blonde didn't come without its challenges.

blonde highlights
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

My naturally curly hair was already frizzy before I went lighter, but it only got worse, thanks to the bleach that made each strand even more porous. I quickly learned that my blowouts would no longer stand a chance against the slightest sign of humidity.

frizzy hair
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

I tend to sweat in my sleep, so any straightened hair around my neck would have a slightly frizzy wave or curl in the morning when I was natural, but I had never seen it get as rebellious as it did after my dye job. No, I was not having more fun as a blonde.

I was devastated but I wasn't going to give up without a fight on the only highlight job I had ever loved.

After holding on for dear life the past six months, I finally figured out a routine that makes my hair feel luxurious AF, like I was born blonde.

The key to preventing frizz is hydration, hydration, hydration! Prepping my hair with an oil before I put in a shampoo has made a world of difference in that department.

hair oil
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

My favorite option is the Carol's Daughter Marula Curl Therapy Softening Serum. I let the bottle warm up in a container full of hot water for five minutes, then go to town.

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

Carol's Daughter Marula Curl Therapy Softening Serum ($18, Carolsdaughter.com)

I leave it on for up to 30 minutes, and it makes my hair feel so good I could cry. It's as if I died and was brought back to life.

Thirsty ends are no match for this oil.

When it comes to shampoos, I am not particularly picky. I just want something that doesn't make my hair feel like straw, but that was surprisingly difficult to find. However, Rita Hazan's Rita Hazan True Color Shampoo was not only gentle, it smelled great!

rita hazan shampoo
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

Rita Hazan True Color Shampoo ($26, Sephora)

Treating a dry and itchy scalp with a dandruff shampoo is even more challenging when you're trying to keep your hair hydrated. The ingredients can be drying and tend to make my hair feel as hard as a rock, but Dove's DermaCare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Shampoo blew my mind with how silky it made my hair feel.

dove dandruff shampoo
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

Purple shampoos are just as scary because they can also suck the life out of your hair, but I wanted to combat the hated brassy tones that creep up on me every now and then.

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

The Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo is strong enough to make a significant difference in tone with just one wash, but I need to take special precautions. I only do one shampoo with this product, and I make sure to hydrate my hair before and after I cleanse to prevent an overly-stripped feeling.

best purple shampoo
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

The results are 100% percent worth the effort. Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo ($27, Sephora)

Now this product right here! It changed my life! I have never met a treatment that has made a more significant difference in my hair than this one. One step hydrates your hair, while the other seals the cuticle and locks the moisture in.

rita hazan treatment
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

Rita Hazan needs to make bigger bottles because I flew through the two ounces of product, thanks to my long hair. Rita Hazan Weekly Remedy Treatment For Deep Hydration & Superior Shine ($42, Sephora)

It's the answer to every frizzy hair prayer, and I am here to spread the gospel!

And just in case my hair thought I came to play, I go in with a leave-in conditioner by R+Co for extra moisture and shine. I refuse to get a blowout without using this product. That's how much I love it.

r+co high dive
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

R+Co High Dive Moisture + Shine Crème ($27, Randco.com)

I get a roller set during blowouts now to prevent my hair stylist from blasting the entire length of my hair. After all, her blow dryer gets as hot as the fire of a thousand suns. My curly roots are the only section that need the extra heat.

roller set
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

The result is gloriously soft hair that won't recoil at the slightest hint of humidity.

blonde highlights
photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

That is worth every bit of effort in my book.

blonde hair
photo: Brittany Fowler, Revelist