As a child, I had sunkissed blonde hair that eventually turned into a mousy brown shade. I experimented with every color under the sun during my teen years, from blonde to black to purple (remember that colorful dip-dyed look the Spice Girls rocked back in the late 90’s?). I took a long break from coloring my hair, but a few years ago I was itching to switch things up. I always wanted to go blonde (again), and I had read an article in Glamour magazine years ago that going back to your roots (literally) as a child is a great way to bring out the best in your coloring and to look younger which sounded great to me! Since deciding to go back to the light side, I have had quite a series of unfortunate dye jobs. Quite honestly, up until last week I was so unhappy with my color and continually being disappointed that I was considering going dark again. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I’m sure you’ve noticed my not-so-fortunate blonde dye jobs. I fully admit that I am quite possibly the pickiest person ever when it comes to my hair, and the bad dye jobs were not ALL the colorists fault. I have been to 5 colorists over the past three years and I’ve learned a lot about what to ask for, what not to do, what to say no to, and how to find the best blonde shade for your skin tone.

1. Do not break your base

Unless you are naturally already a blonde, do not break your base. I learned my lesson three too many times with this one. Breaking the base means lifting your natural hair color be lighter. It is essentially stripped of its color, and what you’re left with is the underlying pigment in your hair. And that pigment is a lovely shade of orange/yellow depending on how long you’re left to “break the base”. From my experience, this is a lazy way to go blonde. Ever seen someone with bright, beautiful blonde highlights with orange mixed in? That’s what happens when you have your hair highlighted and then have a base break. From experience, it looks SO much better to have finely woven highlights added throughout your natural color. And the great part about that is that you can have your colorist keep adding more and more until you get to the desired amount of blonde you want without going orange or yellow. I said that I was hesitant about having my base broken after two unfortunate mishaps before, and the colorist told me that she’d ‘only leave it on for a few minutes to avoid orange…and what happened, you ask? Orange. And I was on to the next one…

2.Choose a shade of blonde that complements your skin tone AND makes you happy

Those with pink undertones (myself included) look best with cooler, neutral shades of blonde. Warmer, darker skin tones look best with warmer blonde tones. The struggle is REAL when trying to achieve a cool shade of blonde when you’re a natural brunette. A toner makes all the difference in the world when going for cooler tones.

3. Try balayge for a natural blonde look

To counteract all of the base-breaks, I wanted some darkness added to my hair to cancel out the orange pieces in my hair. I had lowlights added, but they ran all the way down to the ends of my hair, giving my hair an almost gray look in the front mixed in with my blonde pieces. If you have lowlights added, have them put in near the root but not all the way down to the ends of your hair. My life saving moment happened when I found a colorist who GOT what I wanted, and it just so turns out that she is a balayage master. She did a reverse balayage technique on my hair; she added brown to my roots by painting the color on, and added blonde pieces to my dark ends. The result was a more natural, low maintenance look. I always felt like I was wearing a wig being full-on blonde from top to bottom, and that could in part be because I wasn’t ever the correct shade of blonde, but my new balayaged hair feels like me. If you’re a blonde and want a painted on, sunkissed look, look for colorists who are a master at the craft of balayage.

It will still take some work to get ALL of the orange pieces out of my hair, but I am so happy with how great it looks so far!

Do you have any blonde horror stories?