Unlike a clean and pure champagne blonde shade or an icy platinum blonde, dirty blonde is a timeless medium to dark blonde shade with wheaty brown undertones. These undertones, combined with rooted or lowlighted shades of brunette (and maybe even some extra bright and pure blonde highlights for added contrast), make dirty blonde ultra-dimensional and ultra-low-maintenance color!
For those looking into how to lighten their hair for summer slowly, dirty blonde is a perfect, subtle transition option. It might even be so perfect that it serves as the new permanent color!
The luxurious yet lived-in dirty blonde color will complement most complexions if catered slightly to them, and because this color tends to be cool or neutral-toned, it easily can be! If working with a lighter complexion, lowlights added throughout (and possibly some face-framing highlights) can create a look that instantly brightens the skin and eyes. For darker complexions, lightening specific strands through a balayage or ombre technique and incorporating more variety in the shades of brown used for lowlights can create contrast in a way that’s complementary to the skin tone and eye color without being too harsh.
Dirty blonde and “bronde” are some of the most versatile blondes around — so anyone who wants to embrace them should (though they may need some help from a stylist to ensure that they’re picking a professional hair color that lasts long and honors their skin tone and eye color best)!
True dirty blonde hair color is cool without being ashy, rich without being warm and is as striking as it is subtle. With that said, it can be taken to extra stunning or extra subtle places, made very dark or very light and can incorporate different little touches. No matter where you’re taking it, though, we can help you get there from the steps below!
1. Smudge the Root
While this may be a look that lightens and lifts, starting off by smudging the roots in a soft brown hue (from a light mousy brown to a medium cool brown) will only serve to help! By creating a shadow on the root, the transition from soft brown roots to shimmery blonde ends will be accentuated — and highlights will really pop. Not only will this add to the look, but will be particularly good practice for gray coverage and growth camouflage!
2. Keep (or Create) Lighter Ends
When you’re looking to create the natural born-with-it, lived-in glow that accompanies dirty blonde hair, it’s important to think about where that naturally occurs in the hair. Natural hair tends to go a little bit lighter at the ends, as well as get a bit of a natural money piece, because of being naturally lifted by the sun in these areas. This means that you’ll want to either leave the mid-lengths and tips alone or subtly lighten them using a balayage technique!
3. Add Lowlights
Those starting with lighter shades of blonde will likely need to incorporate lowlights into their look. Depending on the current base colors of the hair and desired outcome of the look, shades of brown or blonde that land around a level 5 or 6 should create depth and dimension without being overly dramatic.
4. Add Optional Highlights
If the goal is a more glamorous or dramatic dirty blonde look, absolutely embrace some extra bright highlights! Similar to lightening the ends, you’ll want your guidelines to be where the sun naturally makes the hair glow — so concentrating them closer to the face will be gorgeous! Along with this, more natural-looking highlight techniques like ribbon lights and baby lights will be ideal and will allow you to use a stronger salon developer without worrying about creating high-contrast chunks!
If you’re a seasoned salon blonde, you surely know the benefits of using a purple shampoo already. If you’re not, this is a look that’s sure to help you understand! Because while brassy tones can be beautiful in dirty blonde, neutralizing them with a purple shampoo will create a completely different vibe that we suggest exploring!
From here, moisture-infusing products to help counteract any damage and drying done by the bleaching process will be a priority. We suggest products like professional leave-in conditioners and oils, depending on the hair type. When it comes to styling, thermal protectants will be important if using heat tools — but no one can rock beach waves better than a dirty blonde, so do yourself a favor and consider simply using texturizing sprays instead!