Whether or not they have the most fun is still up for debate, but there’s no denying that blondes have a lot of choices when it comes to their color — platinum, golden, honey, you name it. But unless you’re genetically blessed with baby blondeness (and few people who aren’t still actual babies are), it takes some work to get and maintain a bright blonde. I spoke to celebrity hair colorist Kari Hill (whose clients include Shailene Woodley, Taylor Schilling, and Maria Sharapova) for her tips on achieving that perfect shade.
Hill’s golden rule (sorry) when it comes to going blonde? Be realistic. “A blonde looks good [on] beautifully healthy hair, and this means not overdoing it,” Hill says. She recommends building up to a lighter color over time. “It might not happen in one shot. Try partial or full highlights over six to eight weeks to help build to your desired lightness,” she adds. This also helps to prevent overlapping color on already-highlighted pieces. “That’s when damage can occur,” she warns.
And Hill is all about technique when it comes to creating the perfect blonde color. “A little ombré, a little tipping (a freehand technique for feathering blonde on the ends), some foils, and balayage,” she mentions. The placement of blonde color is critical. “Target the right spots and you can pull off natural blonde without doing your entire head.” She often does partial, or what she calls “ponytail,” highlights along the perimeter of the hairline, behind the ears, and at the nape of the neck. “This hair [at the nape of the neck] lies on the side of your shoulder when your hair is down and is also visible when you wear your hair up,” says Hill. “But it shouldn’t be quite as light as your hairline highlights or it will look unnatural.”
And then there’s maintenance. For starters, Hill recommends sticking to shampooing every other day if your hair tends to get oily, but the longer you can stretch it, the better. This is especially important considering that many people shower with hard water that’s loaded with minerals, like copper and chlorine, which can change hair color. “Some people install water softeners in their homes, but even most of these softeners have charcoal, which can also make hair color dingy and muddy,” says Hill. Her best solution: an extra filter on the showerhead (she likes the T3 Source Shower Filter Showerhead).
Revamping your water filtration system might be a bit high-maintenance for some people, but there are also a handful of color-preserving products that will help prolong your beloved blonde. Hill recommends a purple shampoo or conditioner (like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Blonde line, which also has UV filters) to help brighten the color and prevent it from getting too yellow or too white. “The more lavender the formula, the gentler it is. Although you can always mix a purple formula with a regular one to help tone it down a bit,” says Hill. And if your hair is really delicate (like celebrity client Anna Faris’s) opt for a sulfate-free shampoo. The one no-no: clarifying shampoos. “People think these help remove the hard water from your hair, but they actually strip hair, leaving it dehydrated, and it can be very stressful on the color,” says Hill.
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