How to achieve perfect blonde hair and maintain your sanity. As a struggling singer, mousy-brown-haired Stefani Germanotta decided to go blonde and soon transformed into the multiple-Grammy-winning Lady Gaga (with a current bankroll estimated at over $150 million). In fashion, 2008’s icy “Balenciaga blonde,” created by Redken’s Guido Palau, sparked a new round of blonde ambition when it comes to hair colour: Top models like Abbey Lee Kershaw, Kasia Struss and Carmen Kass all went the platinum blonde route. If you’re ready to join the ranks, here’s how to do it.

Blonde hair tip: Blondification
Blake Lively’s ill-advised stint as a redhead and Emma Stone’s Marilyn phase remind us that hair colour can have serious, and career-damaging, consequences. “You want your hair colour to make a statement,” says Christophe Robin, a Paris-based colourist for L’Oréal Professionnel, “but you don’t want it to shout.” With so many different blondes available, finding the ideal hue is a real challenge. “Natural, golden blondes that are multi-dimensional look best,” says John Beeson, a colourist at Vidal Sassoon salon in Toronto, who suggests that women opt for a hair colour that isn’t too drastic and complements their natural skin tone. (Unless, of course, you opt for Agyness Deyn’s statement white-blonde ’do. There has to be an exception to every rule.) A lighter, “neutral blonde” flatters most, whereas golden or ashy shades can wash out your complexion and make you look older.

Blonde hair tip: Shady business
Highlights are ideal for blonde initiation and require less loyalty for commitment phobes. (Think of it as deciding to move in with your boyfriend but keeping your own apartment, just in case.) Your best bet is to go with slicing, says Beeson. Slices are in the highlight family but use a thicker application to blend tones for a muted overall hair colour. However, there are other options, like balayage, or “hair painting,” which abandons foil for a free-style, edgier application that allows your hairstylist to blend several shades together. The goal is for colour to look bright and youthful. Beeson prefers a soft combination of blonde shades (with both highlights and lowlights), which also prevents hair from looking dry or brittle. People tend to select a shade that’s lighter than their ideal match, so, when in doubt, opt for one that’s slightly darker than what you’re originally attracted to.

Blonde hair tip: Staying Power
To keep your colour bright between salon visits, Robin recommends using products for colour-treated hair that are designed to smooth the cuticle and keep pigment where it belongs: in the hair shaft. Stockpile dry shampoo, and only wash your hair two or three times a week to help preserve colour. “When someone’s blonde has a brassy, orangey tone to it, it’s because they have generally gone very light on very dark hair,” says Robin. To counteract the Khloe Kardashian effect, use a toner to mellow the yellow. Greenish tints are usually attributed to chlorine exposure, but Beeson says that they can also come from the iron found in fresh water. (Pay attention, all you cottagers!) Use a clarifying treatment once a week to remove excess metal buildup from the hair shaft. Finally, stock up on conditioning treatments to boost shine and keep hair smooth.