Once the warmer weather hits, the itch to go a shade or two (or three, or four) lighter may have you dreaming in platinum. But before you dip into the bleach and request
Gwyneth Paltrow-inspired tresses, read our expert tips from Harry Josh, celebrity hair stylist and John Frieda spokesperson, for lightening up this season.
Harry Josh’s blonde hair musts:
1. Go for a healthy look
The best way to achieve blonde hair is to think natural. Going too heavy on the highlights can lead to over-processed, dry and damaged hair that looks cheap, not chic. Then there’s the fact that touching up your roots is both high-maintenance and expensive (you’ll have to make a new BFF — your hair colourist). To achieve a more natural look, Josh suggests forgoing foil highlights in favour of what the French call balayage, or hair painting. “The key to natural looking highlights is to highlighting very little hair but make the pieces that you do highlight very bright,” he explains. “You want to have that gradation where it moves from light honey at the roots to bleached tips.”
2. Go brighter without highlighting all over
One of the most important steps? Placement of the highlights. “You want to space out your highlights, even if you’re stuck using foils,” explains Josh. “Make the highlights really solid around the hair line—and bright around the face—but as you go back, make sure that there are good chunks of natural colour in between. Then lighten the ends with either your fingers or a brush.” Result? “You’ll look like you’ve been on holiday in St. Bart’s for two months!” If you can find a colourist who is comfortable with hand painting sans foils on your tips and around the face, even better.
3. How to go blonder
The warm weather often inspires blondes to go blonder. This year, instead of going lighter all over, take a cue from your childhood when the tips of your hair would lighten in the sun. That’s the look you should aim for, according to Josh. “If you’re a summer blonde itching to go blonder, ask your colourist to do a solid of very blonde colour at the front of your hair line,” he explains. “Then ask them to paint the tips of your hair with a really strong bleach, which will give the dimension and illusion of brighter hair." It also means, come September, transitioning back to a slightly darker hue will be easier.
More tips from Harry Josh on achieving the perfect blonde hair shade on the next page …
4. Maintenance is key
Whether you’re a natural or a bottle blonde, maintaining a healthy shade of wheat, honey, white or gold is a daunting task for even the most seasoned salon visitor. “The biggest thing people don’t realize is that the hair colour really begins with their regimen at home,” explains Josh. “A lot of people go to the salon, get their colour done, and within days the colour is already starting to shift and move.” Josh recommends using violet-based shampoos and conditioners (to remove brassiness) and tone-enhancing shampoos (to deposit golden tones into super white hair). For added summer shine, he suggests using a glossing treatment as often as possible to get glistening, golden strands.
5. Already damaged? No biggie
The best news for damaged hair? Getting back on track with your at-home maintenance regimen will solve your blonde woes. “Start whenever you can and you’re going to instantly fix your hair,” explains Josh. “So let’s say you were lazy for a month and your hair is brassy or dry, you can jump on the bandwagon and it will all start to work for you.” If your hair is extremely damaged, it might be time to go in and get a good cut, deep conditioning treatment and then stick to a good at-home regimen. Then you’re back on track to Gwyneth-esque, summer-blonde hair.
Test the latest celebrity hair and makeup trends with our Virtual Makeover Tool!
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.