Being blonde has been associated with being fun, sexy, and glamorous for decades. And while we believe the same holds true for brunettes, redheads, and any hair color, for that matter, today we're interested in how to pull off a flaxen mane. To help us out, we tapped celeb hair colorists Matt Rez and Laura Gibson who let us in on their pro tips, tricks, and industry insight into going blonde. Not only is there a shade of blonde for every skin tone—but also one for every lifestyle and budget. So to determine whether you're more of a white, ash, or warm blonde type—or maybe none of the above—we've put together our complete guide to revitalizing your look with blonde hair.
Meet the Expert
Read on to learn everything to know before going blonde.
What to Consider Before Going Blonde
While we do admire spontaneity, we tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to our hair. After all, going blonde is a commitment—platinum, especially—and should be treated as such. That means doing the proper research beforehand so that you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. Gibson advises, "Before going blonde something to really consider is can your hair handle going light? Hair is much like a fabric, once it is damaged, there is no repairing." "Fine hair and hair that is naturally textured are more prone to damage," she adds. The same holds true for relaxed and permed strands so avoid subjecting them to more chemical treatments—coloring included.
Unless you opt for a low-maintenance shade, blonde hair requires work—especially during the summer. The sun and chlorine can adversely affect blonde strands by turning them brassy and even greenish, respectively. To keep color looking its best, it requires the proper upkeep and products. "Blondes usually require more time at the salon and more frequent visits. The lighter the look, the more frequent appointments are required,” says Gibson. Not only does this translate to more of a time commitment, but also, more money. And while you may be tempted to dye your hair at home to save a few bucks, for best results, leave it to the professionals—or at least know the do's and don'ts of DIY hair dying.
If you're thinking about going blonde, Rez advises that you avoid altering your hair's natural base color. Also, he recommends that you incorporate a midlight (a color which is within one to two levels of your natural hair color) to connect the light and dark pieces throughout your hair.
Highlights vs. Single Process
When considering going blonde or blonder, you can go one of two ways: single-process or highlights. "A single process color is an all-over color. Every hair strand is being colored during this service," explains Gibson. Although she says that it's ideal for someone looking to cover their gray, darken their color, or lighten their color all over, Rez admits that he's not a big fan: "I personally would not suggest a single process to a client due to the fact that a single process would take away all the dimension in the hair and does not allow for a natural/graceful regrowth process." So what does he suggest instead? Highlights.
"Highlights allow for the hair to appear more natural and create for dimension and contrast that creates the beautiful pops of lightness," Rez tells us. “Highlights are when only certain hair strands are selected to be lightened," explains Gibson. "You can have highlights dyed via foil or freehand balayage," she adds. And as opposed to a single process which will need to be touched up every four to eight weeks, notes Gibson, highlights can last up to two or three months.
Blonde Hair for Mature Women
If you're not ready to embrace those grays just yet, blending gray hair with highlights may be for you. Cover gray with a permanent cream color, or ask your stylist to add in some lowlights, which don't require much upkeep. According to Gibson, “Going blonde as you start to age helps blend the grays better as they come in. If you’re 100% gray and you’re a brunette, as soon as your hair grows it will really stand out. However if your base color is blonde, it won’t look as obvious as the hair grows out. Rez agrees: "Blonde can be suitable for all ages especially when incorporating the natural base into it. With more mature women, if there is any white hair, highlights/blonde allows for the whites to blend in with the highlights and create a more forgiving gradient with regrowth," he explains. Another reason to go blonde? "Blonde also helps brighten the skin which can help mask wrinkles and lift the face a little more," says Gibson. "Darker tones tend to accentuate lines in the face. Skintone still plays a role with the shade of blonde you should choose. Too ashy of a blonde can also age you, so don’t be afraid of a little warmth. It can create more of a glow on the skin."
Consider Your Brows
Going monochrome with your makeup and wardrobe may be all the rage, but when it comes to matching your brows and blonde hair: "Leave them alone!" stresses Gibson. "Dark brows are in and provide more definition. If you overly lighten your brows, it can wash them out or look too warm." Rez also admits that he loves a natural brow. "By incorporating the natural base into the blonde silhouette, eyebrows can stay natural as well to make everything look cohesive." However, if you still want to lighten your brows, your best bet is to match the color to your darkest highlight or the base color underneath—and never to the exact shade of your new hair color.
If you're starting to gray in your eyebrows, Gibson recommends covering the grays to help keep your brows defined. "Your eyebrows are the frames to your eyes so it’s important to keep a good shape and shade,” she says.
The Final Takeaway
Whether you're trying to cover up some grays or are simply bored with your hair color, going blonde is a surefire way to enhance your look. And while there's no one-size-fits-all, with the proper planning and maintenance plan (post-color gloss treatment, anyone?), you're bound to find a shade that works for you.