Thinking of Going Blonde? How to Choose the Hue That's Right for Your Skintone

Follow these tips to find your perfect shade of pale, whether you're DIY-dyeing or splurging at the salon

Assess your skintone.

“When changing your hair color, look at both your complexion and eye color to determine whether you're ‘cool’ or ‘warm,’” recommends John Frieda's celebrity stylist Harry Josh, who’s helped many stars transition from brunette to blonde. People with ‘cool’ tones have darker eyes and skin that's either pale with pink undertones, olive-toned, or dark. If that’s you, the best blonde is a light ash or dark champagne. If your skin has golden undertones and you have golden brown, green, or hazel eyes, you're probably ‘warm.’ You’ll look good with golden brown or honey-colored hair.”

Get inspired by your cut.

The more layers and length you have, the more highlights you can use. Conversely, “statement” haircuts and short, blunt styles can get an extra dose of drama from a bolder blonde.

Lighten in increments.

Tempted to go from jet black to blonde in one session? Not the best approach, even if you’re safely seated in a salon chair. “Going blonde often involves bleaching or stripping hair color—you can’t deposit a lighter shade over dark hair. The process can be very drying so be sure to do it gradually to prevent hair from breaking,” says Josh. When coloring hair at home, you want to be even more incremental: “Stay within the two-level limit, which means you can either go two levels up or two levels down from your natural shade without really making any dramatic errors.”

Ask for these highlights.

If you covet born-with-it, high-dimensional color (à la Gisele), consider requesting painted-on “balayage” highlights in lieu of foil, which tend to look chunkier.

Visit the makeup counter.

Having trouble adjusting to a new shade of blonde? Talk to a beauty pro about switching out the eye makeup or blush you’re used to. “Makeup can really change anything, so if you have something in mind, give it a try!”

Team up with a pro.

If you’re on a budget, do your own base color at home, taking care to apply it evenly to front and back. Then head to the salon for expertly applied highlights.

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