Blonde hair: Your guide to picking the best colours

Emily | 23 April 2016
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It’s time to take the plunge.

Blonde hair: will it ever be anything less than luxurious? (Hint: the answer is no). Frankly, this enviable shade is ever-inspiring and, better still, always ‘in’. In fact, so brilliant is blonde at feeling both classic and modern, it’ll never be out.

Considering dyeing your hair blonde? Or fancying a little freshen up? You go, girl. But don’t do it without first consulting our guide to picking the best shade of blonde hair for you (because yes, there are pitfalls, and we want to help you avoid them). Just look at the slew of A-list stars lightening their locks, though, and you have proof that anyone can pull blonde hair colour off if you follow a few simple rules.

Whether you’re taking the plunge to go platinum, want a gorgeously golden mane, or you’re braving the so-hot-right-now bronde, read on: we’ve rounded up the best blonde colours to try, complete with tips on making sure it matches your skin tone. Plus, we’ve thrown in your A-list poster girl and what to ask for at the salon, too. Oh, and wondering if that old adage is true? According to the blondes on our team, yes, they do.

How to pick the right shade of blonde hair for you

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Michelle Williams’s icy blonde shade is both chic and cool. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Ice blonde

The poster-girl: Michelle Williams

Who it suits: This ashy, almost-white shade, as seen on the likes of Michelle Williams and Jennifer Lawrence, creates an instant cool factor thanks to its icy finish. And with a result that’s youthful and thoroughly modern, it’s not hard to see the appeal. What’s more, this shade of blonde hair is surprisingly versatile: women with warm, pale complexions similar to Williams’ can pull off this cool colour – the effect is instantly brightening on skin – but you might be surprised to hear that women with yellow-based medium skin (including Asians) can also rock this shade of ice blonde hair with striking impact – just see Rita Ora for proof.

What to ask for: Ashy ice-white all-over – but for something slightly softer, a buttery hint a la Jennifer Lawrence is flattering. Note: since all-over bleach is most damaging, this look is best suited to short hairstyles – a pixie or sharp bob keeps this blonde colour looking ultra modern and expensive.

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Eat your heart out Marilyn Monroe: Gwen Stefani is our platinum poster girl. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: platinum

The poster-girl: Gwen Stefani

Who it suits: Similar to ice-white but with more yellowish tones, platinum blonde is the ultimate pin-up hair colour (hello, Marilyn Monroe). If you have pale skin with cool undertones, this brilliant shade of blonde will work to complement your complexion. Make like our modern day poster girl Gwen Stefani and opt for a colour close to your skin tone for the most flattering effect: Tip: opting for a cool and creamy platinum like this brings warmth to your face.

What to ask for: An all-over creamy yellow platinum. Ask your colourist to avoid anything too ashy – you want the warmth of yellow (but not brass!) to come through.

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Yellow blonde is perfect for those with warm, pale complexions, as Emma Stone expertly proves. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Yellow blonde

The poster-girl: Emma Stone

Who it suits: This shade of blonde hair is more yellow in colour and has a softer, warmer overall effect. Perfect for pale skin and those with pink undertones – or natural light redheads – yellow blonde works to warm the complexion. Look to Emma Stone or Claire Danes as the perfect poster girls for this look, and you’ll see how their yellow-tinged tresses work with (not against) their skin tone to give depth.

What to ask for: A yellow blonde with golden undertones. For a more natural effect, ask your colourist to weave in some brighter babylights around your face and throughout the ends to create depth and dimension.

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Between yellow and golden: butter blonde is Sienna Miller’s shade of choice. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Buttery blonde

The poster-girl: Sienna Miller

Who it suits: Buttery blonde sits in between yellow and golden on the colour spectrum, and the nuances are subtle – it’s a little darker than yellow but creamier than gold. Think Sienna Miller or Kate Hudson, whose warm butter-blonde locks look sun-kissed and glistening, without any brassiness. This creamy yellow colour suits pale and medium skin with warm undertones; it enhances your natural glow.

What to ask for: A creamy, warm blonde balayage with a soft golden glow – this technique’s free-hand colour placement will create a natural sun-kissed effect.

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Know a girl with a golden touch? Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is gorgeous with golden blonde locks. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Golden blonde

The poster-girl: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Who it suits: Medium in tone, golden blonde is the ultimate beachy shade. Full of depth and dimension, this wheaty colour is low-maintenance (natural roots, rejoice!) and effortless in its overall effect. Medium, warm skin tones suit this shade of blonde perfectly (especially those who tan well): think Gisele and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Plus, thanks to its relaxed, natural look, it’s a great stepping stone for dark blondes or light brunettes who want a gentle way to experiment with lightening.

What to ask for: Honey blonde hues with light gold babylights around the face and lengths to illuminate your complexion. Balayage is the best technique to deliver natural-looking sun-kissed strands.

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Blake Lively proves strawberry blonde hair can be especially striking. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Strawberry blonde

The poster-girl: Blake Lively

Who it suits: Strawberry blonde is having something of a moment – and it’s more versatile than you might think. From vibrant copper-coloured hues to soft rose shades – all underpinned with a golden glow – this stunning shade can suit a variety of complexions. Those boasting pale skin with warm undertones (think: Scarlett Johansson) look positively glowing when graced with a copper-based strawberry blonde, while those with medium skin and warm undertones (a la Blake Lively) can pull off something punchier.

What to ask for: A soft strawberry blonde that blends copper colours with a golden glisten. The effect you want is warm, but not too brassy. For a bombshell effect, a few choice babylights around your face can help brighten and add dimension, or, for something more modern, a strawberry blonde balayage which concentrates colour on the lengths is effortlessly undone (perfect for dark blonde/mid-brown girls!)

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Dark ash blonde: a cool and understated choice. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Dark ash blonde

The poster-girl: Cara Delevingne

Who it suits: Not all ash blondes are light – dark blonde hair can have an ashy appearance, too, and its effects can feel effortlessly undone and modern. Fair to medium complexions with cool undertones can carry this look off well: Cara Delevingne and Taylor Swift are shining examples of how a dark ashy blonde shade can flatter faces of this colour. Another great option for dark blondes or medium brunettes.

What to ask for: A dark ash blonde sombre – the effects of which are soft and natural. Your colourist can add lighter ash highlights around your face, and even some cool golden highlights through the ends for balance and dimension.

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Uh huh, honey: Beyonce proves dark-skinned babes can carry of blonde hair beautifully. Credit: Getty Images

The shade: Honey blonde

The poster-girl: Beyonce

Who it suits: Medium-to-dark skinned women with warm undertones will have a hard time not looking hot with a honey blonde hue! Just look to Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, and Ciara for proof – this sumptuous caramel blonde will instantly illuminate your complexion with glowing results.

What to ask for: For the most natural outcome, opt for a balayage technique that leaves roots untouched (bonus points for its low-maintenance!) – ask your stylist for warm honey or caramel colours and golden babylights around the face and through the ends. Ciara and J-Lo wear this look well. But, if you want all-over colour like Beyonce, don’t be shy! Your colourist can apply a honey hue as a base – just ask for golden babylights around your face for dimension.

The general rule to remember for blonde hair? The lighter your skin and eyes, the lighter the shade.

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