How to dye your hair the right blonde
It's not as simple as a single trip to the salon. Finding the perfect shade can take months, Nicola Clarke, the A-list's top colourist, tells Dominique Temple
Dying your hair blonde is harder than you think. It's relatively easy to go brunette or black - all it takes is one trip to the hairdresser and you're pretty much done. But going blonde is much more of an art and takes time, which is why so many people get it wrong.
For blonde hair to look elegant there are only a few hues that actually work and leave you looking sophisticated rather than cheap or washed-out, so we quizzed the queen of colour, hairstylist and director of John Frieda Colour, Nicola Clarke. Clarke counts Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Cate Blanchett and Sienna Miller all as clients with enviable blonde locks.
How long does it take to get your hair blonde?
"To get the right colour for your skin tone, work with your colourist who will guide you to the right shade of blonde," advises Clarke. Bringing photos of blonde shades you like is a great starting point.
Let your colourist know a little about your lifestyle - how often you can visit the salon, how you typically style and also wear your hair.
"This will help to determine what shade will best suit you," says Clarke explains. "If you are looking to drastically change your hair colour from brown to blonde or similar, you need to allow a good six months. It takes time and can't be done in one session."
Changing your hair colour is something to be considered. Hair colour and length is a huge part of our personality so it's important to ensure you make the right choice.
"You may need to change your wardrobe and the make-up you wear according to your new colour shade," says Clarke.
Can you dye black hair blonde?
Yes, you can but you have to be patient with it and build it up.
"I recommend doing it slowly," says Clarke. "Start treating your hair at home with Olaplex Hair Perfector to start the lightening process." Good- conditioned hair will accentuate your features and show off your new colour to its utmost potential.
"Ask your stylist to add a few brighter flecks of colour, whether it's around the face or ends, to bump up the brightness and get you and your hair ready for the new colour."
How often should you get your colour done?
It depends on the type of colour you have. If you have balayage, it can be every 10 or 12 weeks, whereas a tint will need to be topped up every two to six weeks and highlights every six to eight weeks.
Nicola's five step guide to elegant blonde hair
- Blonde hair should have several shades running through it to break up the colour, otherwise it looks too solid.
- Cool, bright hair tones work well with fair skin. Think Scandi blonde, lifted with sections of ice-white tones to lift your hair and give it some dimension like Kate Bosworth.
- Olive skin tones suit warm, blonde tones with more of a beach-blonde look. Balayage works well with olive skin as it makes the blonde look more natural.
- For dark skin I would recommend using a dark blonde around the face to lift and frame the face without lightening the overall shade too much.
- Highlights and balayage in cool blonde tones work well on Asian skin tones, to soften and add dimension. Be careful not to choose too warm a shade as it can look brassy.
Best at-home products for blonde hair
Schwarzkopf BlondMe Tone Enhancing Bonding Mask For Cool Blondes (€19.20, feelunique.com)
Knock out hints of unwanted warmth with this deep conditioning mask, which will keep your hair healthy and ready for your next salon visit.
Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Blonde Shampoo (€19.90) and Conditioner (€23.90, both Peter Mark)
After spending all that time and money getting the right shade, you'll want to keep brassy tones at bay. That's where purple shampoo and conditioner comes in. Plus, this one is free of sulfates, which can strip away hair's natural oils and leave it feeling dry.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Shampoo (€7.49, Boots)
For a more affordable option, try this tone-correcting formula to make your colour last longer.
Wella SP Luxe Oil Reconstructive Elixir (€19.95, lookfantastic.com)
Enriched with natural argan, almond and jojoba oils, this treatment has been hailed as a 'wonder oil' for protecting the keratin in hair. Nicola swears by it to keep your colour looking cool and conditioned.