For as long as I can remember, whenever I've gone for a haircut, I've screenshotted numerous images of Alexa Chung's perfectly tousled bob on my phone to take with me to the salon. To me, Alexa has the ultimate cool-girl hair. It's styled yet looks effortless. All it requires is some sea salt spray and a bit of ruffling of the ends a bit and you're good to throw on your trench coat and go. In short, she has really great hair. For about 10 years, I have wanted her hair—until I went blonde.
Six months ago, I took the plunge after discussing it at length with numerous people (sorry, friends) and went blonde. My main inspiration for this drastic hair change? My new hair hero, Lucy Boynton. Don't get me wrong—I still love Alexa's hair, but there's something about being blonde that I currently can't get enough of.
Lucy's and Alexa's hair aren't too dissimilar. They both have that loose wave thing going on, and they're both relatively short in length. They also both have finer hair, which means it can tend to fall flat. But it's Lucy's blonder-than-blonde bob that drew me in. So how can you go as blonde as her? And how can you maintain it without ruining your hair? I asked the experts to find out.
I reached out to Nicola Clarke, celebrity hairdresser and Virtue Labs brand ambassador because if anyone knows about making a drastic hair colour change, it's her. She's also known as the "queen of blonde," so she knows how to answer this question better than anyone. Nicola told me that before you do anything drastic, consult with your hairdresser. "Find pictures of colours you like and take them to your colourist for a consultation. They'll be able to advise if that particular colour will work and you can chat through your lifestyle as this is equally important when going blonde. Think about how often you can visit the salon and how you like to wear your hair, this will all determine what shade will work," she says.
Nicola told me that it's so important to take into consideration skin tone and eye colour, as what suits one person won't suit the next. Olive skin suits warmer blonde tones with more of a beach-blonde look. Balayage also works well with olive skin, making the blonde look more natural.
For dark skin tones, Nicola would recommend using a dark blonde around the face to lift colour and frame the face without lightening the overall shade too much. Highlights and balayage in cool blonde tones work well on medium skin tones. Be careful not to choose too warm a shade, as it can look brassy. And for paler skin tones like Lucy's, cooler, creamier blondes and typically white-blonde shades are your best bet.
Do different hair textures take to blonde differently?
I went blonde with Anita Rice, the founder of Buller and Rice and Ralph and Rice, and I trust her explicitly when it comes to my hair. She told me that different depths of hair lift differently, and at different speeds. For someone like me, who has finer hair, it is generally easier to lift the tone and therefore easier to make the hair blonder. If someone has darker hair, Anita recommends aiming for a biscuit or caramel shade, as this will be easier to maintain in the long run.
If you have Afro hair, once it's had a chemical service such as bleaching, it will lose its moisture quickly, so Anita recommends using a hydrating and moisturising treatment regularly, and suggests booking in for regular Olaplex baths. The same goes for curly hair: The curlier it is, the more drying lightening your hair can be, so you need to ensure you put as much moisture back in as possible. Shop some of the products Anita recommends below.
This perfect for platinum hair mask is specifically designed to treat highlighted or bleached hair, as it contains a high dose of Keravis to help balance out your hairs porosity and transform its appearance. Be prepared for soft, vibrant blonde hair post-use.
Going blonde can be tricky, as more often than not after a few washes your hair can turn brassy. This happened to me, and I freaked out, so my first tip is to not worry too much as it can be fixed easily. Nicola suggests using shampoos and conditioners designed for colour treated hair, as they help to maintain it. She also recommends using sulphate-free shampoos and products to help stop the colour from fading and becoming brassy and having regular conditioning treatments.
Day-to-day use of shampoo and conditioners designed for colour-treated hair are essential for maintaining it properly. Seek out sulphate-free shampoos and products which stop colour from fading and becoming brassy and having regular conditioning treatments. Shop my favourite shampoos and conditioners for blonde hair below.
This is dependent on you and your personal colour preference. I haven't had mine re-dyed since going blonde, because I love having root regrowth and my highlights are blending so it looks and feels natural. But if you've opted for a look like Lucy's (where you don't have much root), Nicola recommends getting it done every six to eight weeks. If this sounds too high maintenance, opt for balayage because you won't need to visit the salon as frequently, as the root growth isn't as obvious. It's also important to have regular trims to keep the hair in good condition and to use treatment shampoos and masks. Shop my favourites below.
I have recently discovered Virtue Labs's products and am officially obsessed. This recovery shampoo is infused with Alpha Keratin 60ku, which is a transformative protein identical to the keratin in your own hair (it helps to directly bind any areas of damage, fills them without weighing down your hair and rebuilds any damage). It's perfect for blondes, as bleaching can cause lots of damage, and the more I use it, the more I'm embracing my hair's natural wave instead of reaching for heat to style it.
As part of the same range, I've also been using the Virtue Labs Recovery Conditioner to ensure my hair is as soft as it can be. I alternate between Virtue Lab products and John Frieda and my blonde hair has never looked better (if I can say so myself).
Up next, these are the two products that make every day a good hair day for Sienna Miller.