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Difficult Blondes

May 24, 2024

Difficult Blondes

Where were you standing when you decided to adjust your hair colour? Do you stand there often?

At the first salon I worked in as a junior, back in the last century, the colourists had an interesting technique for showing clients their finished results; escorting them to the ladies toilet where a single electric wall light seemed to cast a favourable glow. I always found it odd that the client nodded agreement even though they couldn’t take the lightbulb with them.

The fact is, we live in an extreme range of light colour, such that our hair will look a different tone depending on where we are. And it’s a problem which is more acute for blondes, so it’s dangerous to make colour decisions on the cast of blonde without recognising the ambient light.

Stand near a window and blue skies or grey skies will make the colour look cooler. Direct sunlight could make it warmer. Halogen light warmer, LED usually a little cooler unless they’re a lower kelvin (k) rating. 3000k and under is warm, 4000k and over is cool. Ditto fluorescent.

Move from a grey painted room to a pink painted room and your hair colour will appear to change too. 

 And it’s all relative

The image on the left looks much warmer when viewed next to the cool image on the right. But in isolation it’s not a particularly warm blonde. You may think your blonde is too warm but maybe not if you stand next to a red head. If you think it’s too cool, stand next to someone with grey hair it will instantly look warmer.

The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel helps us understand blonde hair. Unless you’re naturally blonde, getting there will involve lifting the colour through shades of warmth. Honey blonde leaves in more red than Nordic blonde. People that have a morbid fear of red (warmth) can sometimes drain so much out in the pursuit of cool Nordic or platinum tones that it’s lifted too far.

Or it may be taken a bit further by the sunny holiday and swimming straight after which removes a little more warmth and takes it over the edge into shades of khaki in some light. Red and green are opposite each other on the colour wheel. In effect, this means that the further you move away from red, the closer you move towards green. Your sweet spot of blonde will be somewhere in the middle, but it can be quite a narrow field.


Left to right - warm to cool: Julia Roberts - Gwyneth Paltrow - Jessica Simpson - Naomi Watts


I love so much about America. but their hair colourists are even more guilty of over-colouring than here - too much colour over and over the same hair with no obvious long-term strategy. This makes the colour very unstable (so needs almost constant attention) and over-stresses the hair - spongy texture when wet and difficult to comb. Poor Gwyneth has been so many shades of blonde in pictures I’ve seen and I doubt it’s intentional.

Fashions have moved towards cooler blondes and also for leaving more of the natural hair uncoloured to keep contrast and dimension. This also helps retain a more stable overall colour.

More muted biscuity blondes still have warmth but with a softer diffusion. Pewter blondes have also become very popular and the product range for the colourist is much broader than ten years ago.

Looking after blonde hair
Keeping the purity of blonde hair takes a little more effort. If it’s naturally blonde the colour will be more stable but pollutants can dull the colour or bring unwanted brassiness. 

Keeping it bright
The mastery of the colourist is really put to the test with blonde hair as the eye can perceive hundreds of shades and the base colour can leave conflicting undertones. Assuming the colourist gets it right, keeping the hair clean and using purple shampoos/conditioners intermittently, like our Silver Blonde range, will help. The haircut makes a big difference too. Dry ends will cast a flattening effect to the hairstyle colour as will the wrong shape for the hair type. Cutting and colouring should work hand in hand to complement each other.

Delicate blonde hair shouldn’t be swirled around when shampooing as this can damage or knot the hair. Use colour defensive products, like our UV Protective Shampoo & Conditioner. If the blonde veers towards brassy, use our Silver Blonde colour corrective purple shampoo and conditioner once a week.




Avoid styling products that are very drying or products that are very coloured. Some of the oils like Argan can be yellowing on ash blonde hair.

Sun Protection
Use LifeSaver UV Leave-in Treatment and UV Protective Shampoo and Conditioner. These have natural UV protectors that are proven effective. UV light sets off free-radicals in the hair to break down structure and destabilise the chemicals in hair colour.



Sea and Pool Protection
Wet hair before swimming and apply LifeSaver UV Treatment. Hair can only hold so much water so if it’s already wet it will soak up less chlorinated or salty water. Rinse after swimming and reapply LifeSaver UV. Always wash hair at the end of swim/beach time with UV Protective Shampoo and Conditioner.


Avoiding Brassiness
Brassy Blonde - an unfortunate pairing of words that gets confused with forthright women

Barmaid Blonde - an unkind name for the earlier mixologists of Coronation Street.


There are many reasons why blonde hair goes brassy:

1. Initial colouring not lifting enough warmth from natural hair.

A. Colour professionally if possible.

2. Chemicals and pollutants in water:

A. Install a shower filter 

3. Toners wearing off and natural warm undertones showing through

A. Use Silver Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner 

4. Sunlight destabilising chemicals in tints

A. Wear a protective leave in treatment, LifeSaver UV, and use UV Protective shampoo and conditioner  Review professional colouring. 

5. Swimming

A. See solutions above

6. Haircut shape keeping too much old hair at the ends.

A. Try long graduation and layers to clear dead colour and restore brightness and movement

Colours in this blog will also appear differently on phones and computers so adds another variable to key points made in this text.

 Michael Van Clarke


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