When Fall Highlights are “Touched by the Sun”

Before a few weeks ago, I was what you may have called a born-again hair virgin.

After more than a decade of hiding under coats of red, pink, blue, black and even a blinding (and horrifying) peroxide blonde, I decided it was time to enter hair rehab.

So I got clean and for five years proudly rocked a natural, if not predictable, dark brown.

Yet recently my reflection felt kind of “eh.” I was bored with being an even brunette and ready for a change.

My first impulse was something bold and rich. I fantasized about wild brassy reds or a Katy Perry-inspired jet black, but knowing my laziness on upkeep decided on something a bit more staid — good old-fashioned highlights.

I started searching for something low maintenance. I wanted to enjoy being multi-colored without the inevitable roots and repeated visits to the salon.

Enter Baci di Sol (meaning “touched by the sun” in Italian). During my research I stumbled upon this treatment, offered exclusively at Chelsea’s De Berardinis Salon, which promises to mimic the sun and lighten hair as if you’d been tanning in the Caribbean. Due to its unique bleaching process, the blonde grows out naturally, so there’s no need for regular maintenance.

I was sold.

The Manhattan outpost on this particular Saturday was bright and airy, unpretentious and happy with stylists milling around and glossy customers bouncing in and out.

I was immediately whisked away and my hair began its metamorphoses under the exacting hands of head stylist and co-owner Adrian De Berardinis. Unlike your garden-variety highlights, where one sits demurely with their hair in even rows of foil, the Baci di Sol treatment is a bit wilder.

The process begins by teasing and spraying hair to electrocuted Marge Simpson-like proportions. Only after one looks fresh from a light socket, is any peroxide applied.

The teasing, Adrian explains, collapses the hair beneath itself, meaning that the random highlighted strands lead to a more natural, spread-out, sun-kissed look.

The treatment also calls for higher levels of peroxide, which means one only has to sit with an avant-garde beehive for about ten minutes before heading back to get washed.

While Baci di Sol is offered only at De Berardinis in North America, it’s been employed in Europe for over 20 years. Italy “took it and ran with it” explained Adrian, adding that the highlights quickly became a cult hit due to their versatile and undemanding nature.

For a recovering hair dye addict, the highlights were a healthy return to the stylist’s chair. Rather than stare somewhat bewilderedly at my newfound reflection, the lighter colored wisps only seemed to subtly brighten and soften my face.

Indeed at work, some noticed the honey locks and commented immediately. Others, however, just stared and asked how it was that I looked so refreshed on a Monday.