As of late, we've been noticing a pattern all over our social media feeds: Blonde hair is going from warmer tones to much cooler ones. Our favorite celebrities have caught on, and we've been seeing it all over the red carpet and in paparazzi shots, too. We're not going to lie—we're really loving it. The trend is ash-blonde hair, and we have a strong hunch it's here to stay.
All hair color falls on a spectrum—on one end you have warm, on the other, you have ash, with neutral falling in the middle. "Ash blond hair is blond hair that falls on the cooler side of the spectrum, with hints of blue, grey, green and violet tones," Laura Estroff at Cut loose Salon in Brooklyn says.
Not to deter you, but something to keep in mind with ash-blonde is that if it's not done properly, the cool shade can wash you out completely. Victoria Hunter at Whittemore Salon also says that when it comes to this hair color, most of the time, people come in requesting ash but just don't want to see any red or orange tones in their hair.
Both experts note this is why consultations are so important—it's a chance to decide what you really want, and a professional can help you determine what suits you best. Ash-blonde is all about balancing cool blonde hues with your natural undertones and sometimes, Hunter says, it comes down to the fact that you'd be better suited to a sunny, creamy blonde or a honey blonde instead.
Bring in reference photos. Visuals are helpful when looking to change up hair color, especially when it comes to this shade. But, do remember that photos should only be used as inspiration. "Everyone is different, and everything looks different in a photo. I often tell my clients to bring in pictures of what they do not like, as well as photos of inspiration," Estroff says. "Sometimes what people do not want can be more insightful than what they think they want but are unsure."
Another thing to consider before going ash blonde is your hair texture and base color. If someone has a naturally darker base, frail or thin hair, extremely dry or brittle hair, going ash blonde might be more difficult. "Lightening your hair can be someone taxing and isn’t always advisable," she says.
We're not exactly painting this color out to be a breeze— and it's not to discourage you from going down the ash-blonde route (Heck we're ash-blonde right now!) or any other cool statement shade, either. It's just important to know what you're getting into first.
If you're looking to try out ash blonde, we've rounded up some celeb hair inspiration and more details about this cool color below, including a patented protective hair dye you'll want to learn more about. Keep scrolling to see the different types of ash-blonde your favorite celebrities have sported, and learn more about the dyeing process, upkeep and what you can expect from this unique shade.
Ash Blonde Hair
Choosing a Shade: If you're not sure which shade to go for, your stylist will be happy to lend their expert opinion. People that have a pale complexion with a peachy undertone can pull off ash without it washing them out.
Maintenance Level: Blonde hair is typically high maintenance, and it's generally said to be a commitment no matter what. Plus, 3 months is the max amount of time you can wait in between a touch-up.
Goes Great With: Cool undertones
Price: A full head of highlights usually starts at $150 but depends on the salon.
Ash-blonde is often described as icy blonde and it is cooler in tone. If Beyoncé is anything to go by (Which, duh!) ashy undertones tend to look exceptional with bright glowing skin. Colorist Sarah Klein at Nine Zero One Salon who has worked with a bevy of celebrity clients, echoes what Estroff says above—that ash-blonde tends to reflect more blue and grey hues than a traditional or warmer blonde.
In order to get an ashy blonde, your colorist must lift your hair past any orange/yellow tones, as much as possible. Ideally, lifting to at least pale yellow is best. Here, we get a beautiful platinum/ash look, with roots as bright as the rest of her color.
Lifting to a platinum shade can cause strands to feel extra dry. To restore moisture, use a weekly conditioning treatment to keep hair silky and strong.
As for toning, you’ll need neutrals and cools that cancel out whatever color the hair lifted to. For instance, if you have yellow tones, you need to put in violet to cancel it out, Klein says.
When toning ashy blondes, Klein mentioned likes to add gold into the toner so the hair stays bright and reflective. It's easy to make the hair dull when toning to this color, so additional bright golden highlights definitely help keep things balanced.
Whatever the base color, ash-blonde works best when lifting to a level that is tonable, Klien says. When lightening a natural brunette, like model Soo Joo, to her now well-known near platinum shade, Klein says it's important to make sure you're protecting the integrity of the hair and not over-processing it.
Sometimes going this light can be damaging—which is why the Whittemore House Salon created a protective developer called Liquid Cashmere ($12) made from nourishing oils. Hunter says clients end up shocked at how silky and smooth their hair is even after being color processed.
Holt gets her icy ash color done by Matt Rez. Her textured lob looks so great in this cool tone. We're seriously in love.
Alyssa Ashley was once near-platinum with dark roots. Over toning is definitely something you want to avoid, Klein says, as ash tones can tend to go dull if too much ash is deposited. It can also be aging on some people, so it's really important to watch your toners and choose correctly, she says.
If you want to keep a dark root as well, as pictured here with this ash ombré, your stylist will want to tap the root down after highlighting. This will allow the root color to blend nicely into the start of the highlight and maintain the color in between services, Klein says. This is a great option if you don't want to deal with having to get your roots constantly touched up, plus it makes the growing out process a breeze.
Moving through a few versions of bright to dark blonde over the years, Dunst has always kept to a relatively neutral ash blonde hair color. With the exception of a few subtle face-framing highlights on this slicked back pony, she is usually one of the first we think of when picturing ash-blonde.
Muted Ash Blonde
Go the muted route with an all ash-blonde look with cool lowlights that bring out the ashiness of the lighter blonde.
If you feel like you'd be too washed out with this color, talk to your stylist about adding lowlights, which can help bring back a bit of warmth an ash tone purposely lacks. Always consider what's most flattering on you, which can sometimes include a warmer undertone.
Lived-In Ash Blonde
If you're looking for a masterclass in ash blonde, just turn to Halley Brisker, who's worked with the likes of Samara Weaving (above) and Elle Fanning. She's created a few incredible ash-blonde colors that are both cool-toned and easy.
Sophie Turner's hair, courtesy of Sonia Dove using Wella Hair, is a glamorous blend of wheat and ash tones. If you're looking for something a little brighter, talk to your stylist beforehand and bring in a photo to show them what you like and don't about a color. Communication is key here.