The Many Shades of Blonde
Look around at women with blonde hair, and you'll notice how many shades of blonde there are. There's strawberry blonde, dirty blonde, bronde, platinum blonde, honey blonde, and even brown hair with blonde highlights.
If you're thinking about going blonde or brightening up your natural color, there are a number of things to consider before you head to the salon. This hair color can be high maintenance and you have a few options when it comes to the process. You'll also want to protect your hair to keep it shining and beautiful.
As we explore beautiful blonde women as inspiration, we'll also pass along useful tips that will help you make the best decisions for your new color.
A Gorgeous Icy Blonde
Some magazines advise you to darken your hair for fall and winter, but this isn't necessary. Blonde hair can remain very blonde—even icy blonde—into the colder months as long as your skin tone is flattering against the color. You can also pair your blonde with bright lips for a more festive look.
The Light Blonde
If you examine a child's hair that has never been colored, you'll see many shades of color. For the most natural looking blonde hair, opt for highlights instead of all-over color and ask your colorist to paint in a couple of different shades. You can do lowlights and highlights, too, for added dimension.
Blonde Highlights and Lowlights
Hair that is just one color can be monochrome and dull. Mixing in lowlights and highlights can give your blonde hair definition, leaving it more natural looking.
The balayage technique works well for highlights and may be a better choice than foils because it's painted in. When it comes to getting great highlights, it's best to leave the job to a professional.
Highlighting Natural Blonde
You will make a good blonde if you had blonde hair as a kid. When getting your hair colored, your stylist should take your natural base into consideration. Naturally blonde hair—even dirty blonde like Beth Ostrosky Stern's hair—is the perfect base for highlights.
If you don't have naturally blonde hair (and let's be honest, few women do), you may have to endure a process to go blonde. Some women with dark hair have to go to the salon twice, once for bleaching and again for color.
The Beauty of Bronde
Jennifer Aniston is famous for her hair. Sometimes it is darker, but she usually wears some shade of blonde, even though she's a natural brunette. Here, her hair is a gorgeous bronde—somewhere in between blonde and brunette.
Bronde hair color is a wonderful option for women who have light brown hair because you don't have to color your entire head. You can have highlights painted on for the lighter effect.
Modern Platinum Blonde
Most blonde shades are warm, but when it comes to platinum, it's cool all the way. And cool colors look great on women with olive-colored skin. This color is so light it's almost gray and it is absolutely gorgeous and very chic.
Platinum is a great color for the colder months. You want a contrast between your hair and skin, which is why olive skin looks great against the icy blonde. Super pale, pink-toned skin can become very washed out with this blonde.
A Basic Buttery Blonde
Deborah Kaplan's hair is a great example of your basic buttery blonde hair color. You can also tell that she has several shades painted into her hair, probably with balayage. It's not one giant swath of the same color, there's tons of dimension here, which makes it look even more natural.
A Gorgeous Buttery Blonde
The buttery blonde color works on many different styles of hair and it's a great go-to for anyone who wants a classic blonde look. It's great short and straight or long and wavy, though it's likely that this gorgeous look is partially made up of extensions.
Ombré Blonde and Brown
Ombre hair color is a popular choice for brunettes who want to go a little lighter without going all-over blonde. It comes from a French word that means "shaded like a gradient."
The secret to this look is to keep the roots dark while the rest of the hair becomes lighter mid-shaft using the balayage technique. It's a great choice because it grows out beautifully and you don't have to worry about your dark roots showing.
There Are Few Natural Blondes
While you may see a lot of children with naturally blonde hair, most of the women walking the streets with golden tresses are not natural blondes.
As we age, our hair tends to darken to at least a dishwater blonde, if not darker. The main exceptions are some Scandinavian blondes. Many start out super blonde as kids and stay some true version of blonde until old age. Still, blonde hair remains the most popular hair color in America.
Go Blonde on Your Own
At-home hair coloring is for people who simply want to go a couple shades lighter or darker or who want to cover a little gray. Anything more complicated than that should be handled by a pro. If you're a dirty blonde, you can do it yourself. Brunettes are better off going to the salon.
The Blonde Process
When going blonder, you basically have three options. You can do single-process, highlights, or single-process with added highlights.
Single-process color is cheaper than highlights but will appear much more monochromatic. This is the least natural of the three coloring options.
Kelly Osbourne's hair color is a good example of hair that's been single-processed. There's very little dimension to the color, but it still looks good.
Healthy Blonde Hair
Whatever your hair dreams are, it's important that you keep your hair's health in mind. You don't want to go through a double-process to get blonde hair if your hair has been chemically straightened or permed.
You should never subject hair to more than two chemical processes at a time. It puts you at too big of a risk for damage that can either take a long time to repair or require a big chop.
Keep in mind that blonde can be a very high-maintenance hair color. You have to commit to regular touch-ups and buy the right products to keep it looking natural and fresh.
The exception is if you have a great blonde base and decide to get highlights. Highlights, especially those done with the balayage technique, grow out more naturally than hair that's been single-processed.
Due to root growth, all-over coloring will need to be touched up every four to eight weeks. Highlights, on the other hand, can last up to two or three months, depending on what kind you get.
Short or Long Blonde
If you are getting a new cut and color, it's recommended that you get the haircut before you go in for color. This allows the stylist to use the color to complement your new cut.
Rita Hazan once said in Marie Claire that a woman's hair color should be inversely proportional to her hair length. In other words, shorter hair can go lighter, while longer hair should be warmer and deeper.
Protect Your Blonde
Colored blonde hair is more susceptible to chlorine and the sun. It's important that you protect your blonde hair color to keep it from fading and getting brassy.
The protection can begin with a glaze at the salon, then extend into the products you use. You'll want to cover your hair to prevent fading from the sun, use a clarifying shampoo for blondes, and be careful when styling with heat.