Lighten up with some of our favorite shades of blonde.
What you’ll need
Ready to lighten up? A classic color that’s always on everyone’s minds is to opt get blonde hair. However, going blonde starts out as quite the process, which in some instances,will require you to endure multiple bleaching sessions. Before you get to your colorist, you’ll have to determine exactly what shade of blonde you want to try. From platinum blonde to dirty blonde and everything in-between, here are some of our favorite blonde hair colors that may just inspire you to lighten things up this year.
Blonde Hair Colors to Check Out
1. Platinum Blonde Hair
Turn heads by going platinum blonde. If you have naturally dark hair, you’ll need to go through multiple steps as you bleach, tone and color your hair. If you are up for the process, maintenance (stock up on purple shampoo like the Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo), and of course love the blonde hair colors, then this is probably a great option for you.
2. White Blonde
White blonde hair is one of the trendiest light hair colors to try out. This is a shade lighter than platinum with a heavy concentration on overall root coverage. A similar process to going platinum blonde, white blonde hair can involve a variety of shades of white, including ivory white, wall white or plain white. So, be sure to know exactly what shade (and how light!) you are willing to go.
3. Sun-Kissed Blonde
The quintessential look of summer is sun-kissed blonde hair. This looks especially stunning on those with light brown hair to dark brown hair as you slightly lighten up your hair.
4. Dark Blonde Roots
Or maybe you want blonde hair but don’t want to deal with your roots! We totally feel you and if you are feeling grown-out roots, then you should totally go for it! Dye your hair blonde as you normally would, but instead of the upkeep, leave your roots natural and dark. Touch them up when (and if!) you want to.
5. Honey Blonde
Slightly darker than sun-kissed blonde, all-over honey blonde hair is a stunning color to try if you want a natural-looking style. We love this as transitional shade for lighter blondes where they can test out going darker, if even ever so-slightly.
6. Lighten Up your Braids
Do you have braids and are trying to figure out how to change up your hair? Why not add some blonde hair color to the mix. We have seen this on a few strands of braids or as all over look (seen above) that looks gorgeous on braids.
7. Sandy Blonde
Another awesome shade of blonde to try is sandy blonde. This color combines dark and light shades of blonde that you can wear all over your hair or simply in the front for some gorgeous hair highlights.
8. Blonde Hair Color on Natural Hair
We love the contrasting look of blonde hair on those who have naturally dark hair. This look is especially stunning on those with natural hair. Go for a darker blonde like an apricot or butter blonde to compliment your skin and natural hair color.
If going for a completely new look isn’t your thing, why not lighten up a bit with balayage. This highlighting technique involves the sweeping of blonde hair color onto your hair. You’ll love how this technique looks natural as it blends with your hair and can easily grow out since the color isn’t concentrated on your roots.
10. Ginger Blonde Hair
For a darker shade of blonde, we love ginger blonde hair. This look combines elements of light brown and dark blonde, resulting in a warm and healthy-looking tone.
11. Golden Blonde
Colder months can sap the warmth out of our complexions, so consider this shade your 24K upgrade. This rich, warm hue is a quintessential blonde, but with just enough of a yellow undertone to enliven a wan, sallow complexion. Ideal for women with warm undertones—peach or yellow skintones, whether light, medium or dark—golden blonde hair is also particularly hot in the form of balayage highlights.
12. Caramel Blonde
Forget that pumpkin spice latte: caramel blonde hair is the way to go if you’re looking to heat things up this season. It’s a happy midway point between bright blonde and medium brown, and works wonders bringing out the flecks in both light and dark eye colors. This angst-free orangey blonde is sultry in its full-shot potency—as a one-process shade—or, for the slightly fainter of heart, as an ecaille (tortoiseshell) sombré.
13. Icy Blonde
Yes, you heard that right—the trendiest blonde is still going strong this year. Ladies with cool tones are lucky, as a platinum hue pops the best when against pinkish skin tones (which the crisp, blustery autumn breeze will take care of, we’re sure). Pair this ice-princess hue with a shoulder-length cut to keep it healthy-looking. Lastly, keep the orange on the trees and not your tresses: Don’t forget the gloss and a toning shampoo to banish any brassiness.
14. Reddish Blonde
Injecting a fair amount of reddish tones into your blonde hair helps warm up your skin as well. Cool undertones glow against strawberry and champagne, while those with warmer complexions are flattered by light coppers. These overachieving shades also act fabulously as highlights, so don’t be afraid to ask your stylist to blend in a few reddish tones into your regular bright blonde for an autumnal upgrade. Keep red from seeping out (as it is wont to do) with a pre-poo treatment, such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer.
If you absolutely, positively cannot part with your ashy tone, then a color that lives somewhere between brown and blonde is your safest bet. Bronde—which is, in reality, akin to a medium-beige color—is in its best and brightest as a single-process, as the neutral shade brilliantly offsets most complexions, as well as darker brows and makeup (not to mention your awesome Fall outfits!). As ashy tones wash out quicker, don’t forget to switch out to a lower-sulfate system to help prolong the grayish tinge in your shade.
This shade is what we like to call a bottle-blonde’s BFF. An ash-toned (or greenish) shade that also incorporates some dark roots, balances out dark brows and ensures that you won’t look washed out. Upkeep is not a problem with this particular hue, because you can just hop onto the grown-out roots trend. Minimal maintenance is always a plus. At home, a lower-sulfate wash and care system can help prolong the integrity and brightness of your blond hair, too.
17. Subtle Rooty Blonde
This whiter shade of blonde hair color creates a glowing effect for your skin, giving your countenance some radiance. Another pro of this look is that dark roots contrasting with an ash-based white-blonde can make your hair look fuller and thicker (not to mention hair naturally swells up when bleached). This is the best option for women with finer hair, as it add some depth and the appearance of thickness.
18. Neutral Bronde
The neutral tones in a brown-blonde look combined with darker roots give an overall effortless effect, while still achieving a lighter feel overall. This is another perfect option for someone on a budget, as it won’t evolve into that dreaded yellow or orange brassiness that requires revisiting the salon for touchup. If you’re feeling proactive in that department, try the Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo to brighten up your blonde strands and banish the brassiness.
19. Dirty Blonde
Sometimes referred to as “dishwater blonde” because of its slightly streaky look, dirty blonde (not the prettiest name either, we agree) is a shade that’s a mix of ash blonde, golden blonde and dark blonde or brown. Overall, it’s a shade that’s similar to a “bronde” (brown-blonde) but is streakier. Think of it as a notch higher than light brown—it’s definitely a shade you go for when you’re toeing the line and want to see how you look like with lighter hair. It’s also a great transition color, as it’s a pretty midway between brunette and true blonde. A lot of people that want to go lighter and start with a dark base sometimes pass through a phase of having dirty blonde hair.
20. Blonde Ombré
The difference between dirty blonde hair and a blonde ombré look is the highlights. Whereas in dirty blonde hair these can start anywhere from tightly close to the root to a few inches below, with a blonde ombré they’re usually done way lower on the head, almost midway to nearer the ends, even. In other cases, blonde highlights can be done via balayage in a dirty blonde color, with the results still being somewhat natural. Depending on how contrasted a blonde ombré look is however, highlights are usually done via a foil method (for a lighter “lift” of color) and can even take on a dip-dyed effect.
21. Very Rooty Blonde
If the grown-out roots look isn’t edgy enough, opt for the very root blonde look. We love this contrast on black to blonde hair ombre hair that accentuates both of these tones.
Guide to Getting Different Shades of Blonde
Step 1: Evaluate your hair.
In general, achieving blonde hair can take multiple bleaching sessions. If you have virgin hair (strands that have never been dyed) you will have the easiest experience with hair color experiment. That said, if you do have virgin dark hair, you’ll still have to go through quite the rigorous bleaching process to achieve the exact level of lightening you want.
Step 2: Prep your strands.
When you decide to go for blonde hair, your tresses are going to go through a lot of stripping as you remove its natural pigments. You can start by preparing and nourishing your tresses with a hair mask at least two weeks before you start. Some stylists may also recommend getting a trim so you can get rid of split ends before you start.
Step 3: Time to bleach.
Bleaching is the first step in the dyeing process. Your stylist will use tons of important tools like a developer, gloves, a coloring comb/bleach brush. This process generally takes 40 minutes so be sure to bring something to read, or snap pics for your Instagram feed as you document your hair adventure.
Step 4: Work in sections.
During this phase, your stylist will work in sections, starting with a small portion at the front of your head. They will apply the bleach as close as possible to the roots and then work the bleach brush down the strands for an even distribution of product. Spoiler alert: This step might sting a bit, but be careful to check your roots periodically to see that you’ve achieved the desired lightness, whether it’s full-on platinum or a subtler, paler blonde. Rinse off after you’ve gotten the lightness you want. Pro tip: Open the window during this process and make sure pets and kids aren’t in the same room, as fumes can be harsh.
Step 5: Apply hair toner.
If you want to go platinum, you will need to apply toner to your hair. This process minimizes brassiness and ensures that your hair looks more white than yellow. Your stylist will use a semi-permanent or permanent dye that develops on your hair to achieve the perfect shade of blonde.
Step 6: Wash it out and treat it.
Next up is getting the powerful formulas out of your hair. Your stylist will wash the toner from your strands and treat it with a rich conditioner. At this point, you’ve essentially zapped pigment from your hair, making it prone to breakage. At home, you will follow-up your wash-and-care treatment by using a shampoo for color-treated hair that works to gently cleanse as it enhances your color. Try the Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Shampoo whose formula helps to treat chemically-treated hair. After you shampoo use the Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Conditioner.
Step 7: Maintain the look.
While your hair will look awesome for a long time (thank you, hairdressers!), bleached hair tends to show regrowth pretty quickly at the root. To maintain your newly blonde color, you will have to touch them up every six weeks or so. Be sure to keep your strands healthy in between treatments by using a hair mask that can soften and boost your processed strands with moisture. Try the Suave Professionals Moisture Mask with Almond and Shea Butter whose formula can provide your hair with some serious moisture as re-hydrates your hair and makes it really soft.
Blonde Hair Colors Tips
1. Purple shampoo is a must.
Clear a space in your shower caddy for the Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo. The violet tones in this shampoo are the best opposition for brassy strands can make their way out of your freshly done hair. Nothing will have you running back to your stylist for another round of bleach more than that dreaded orange color peeking out from under your lightest highlights. Using this shampoo routinely will keep your hair closer to the ashy hue you pinned on Pinterest and keep the bleaching to a minimum. Less bleach equals less damage and that makes for happy and healthy hair.
2. Protect and shield your hair from damage.
If you’re a heat styling addict and can’t go a day without your hair straightener or curling iron, a heat protectant product is a non-negotiable. The Nexxus New York Salon Care Promend Heat Protecting Mist will create a barrier between your hair and your hot tools to keep the damage down to a minimum. Bleaching your hair strips each strand and weakens it and adding high levels of heat on top of already vulnerable hair is a definite recipe for breakage. Using a heat protectant will minimize those chances and keep your hair in the best shape possible.
3. Make TLC a weekly routine.
Get in that some of that meditation time that’s on your list of new year resolutions and give your hair some love while you’re at it. Apply the Suave Professionals Coconut Milk Infusion Intense Moisture Mask to your wet hair while you’re in the shower and let it soak in for around 5-10 minutes. Take some time for yourself and really relax while the mask drenches your hair with intense moisture. Rinse it out and we promise that you’ll be amazed by how silky soft your strands look and feel!
Hair Editors’ Story: My Blonde Hair Through the Years
Being blonde is no easy feat. Whether you’re blessed a natural blonde or get there via a bottle of hair dye, it’s a shade that requires a serious amount of maintenance to keep it looking pristine.
I’ve always experimented with my hair color and remember my first coloring experience vividly. I had just graduated from Catholic school where we had to adhere to strict anti-vanity rules. No makeup, no hair dye, no fair!… I wailed more than once. I’ll leave you to imagine my William Wallace moment the last day of my senior year of high school (hint: freedom is a fresh set of caramel-blonde streaks).
It’s been a constant process of toeing the line with my hair colorist, trying to find the right shade of ash blonde for me—I’m a natural ash brown (as in, the color of really, really boring tree bark) so I’ve always played within that color family. Back when I was living in Manila, there was always a stereotype attached to blonde Asians, mostly because it was so obviously faux.
I’m lucky enough to enjoy this day and age in hair coloring however, where if you wanted your locks to resemble a strawberry cupcake—with matching glittery sprinkles—no one would bat an eyelash. But I’ve already gone red, so blonde was, obviously, next on the list.
It was trial and error, focus on the error. Not having gone blonde before, but with layer after layer of every other shade pancaked on my cuticles, the bleaching process was brutal. I had to sit tight as layers of my past sins literally came melting off before my very eyes (oh hi there, 2013 orange red haiii). Also included were lots of Catholic-schoolgirl prayers that my hair didn’t melt off with it.
Fortunately, and after two years of trying on different shades every few months, I discovered my perfect blonde. In manner of Goldilocks, I found a shade that was just right: An ashy, flaxen blonde that, left kind of rooty and pooling towards my ends, didn’t look as faux after all. (And even if it did, it looked and felt so ab-fab, I didn’t care). It was also a bit gritty/pretty, which has always been the goal for me.
Sure, there’s still upkeep: I have my roots tightened up at my salon every three months, as well as a gloss to tone away any brassiness lovingly bestowed by my pre-war NYC shower pipes. But being blonde feels like home to me; a rebellion, definitely, but also a discovery, as every day has a new challenge I’m willing to explore: from what new makeup colors to try to different purple shampoos to apply. Which is, I suppose, how everyone feels when they’ve found The One, in hair color or otherwise: It’s fruitful, and even though the challenges make you want to tear your hair out, on a good day you walk out with a confidence that you never even thought you had.
Looking for more hair color ideas for blondes? Check out more about the silver blonde hair trend.