As any good colorist knows, not all blondes are the same. There’s honey blonde, golden blonde, ash blonde, and the most desirable blonde of them all: “expensive” blonde. This is the type of hair color that looks effortless, is easy to style, and grows out with all the grace you would expect from a hair coloring appointment that might have cost you hundreds.
If there’s one man who knows how to pull off an “expensive” blonde look, it’s boyish but charming LA-based colorist Justin Anderson, who has been Jennifer Aniston’s go-to for the past decade. Gwyneth Paltrow and Margot Robbie are also longtime clients – and his services are so in demand that Anderson recently launched his own color protection and enhancement line, dpHue. So, how do you go about getting the kind of blonde that makes you look effortlessly chic and put together? Here Justin Anderson shares his six secrets.
Cut before coloring
For a really expensive blonde look, you need to get your haircut done first, and then get your hair color done a few days later to complement the cut. For me as a colorist there is nothing worse than applying many subtle pieces of color and then chopping them off or layering them with a new haircut. I spend a lot of time on the ends of my hair and not what’s going on at the top, so I always advise my celebrity clients to get their hair cut, wait a few days for the haircut to set, and then color to search . It gives you longevity with your color and means you don’t have to go to the salon as often. If you’re settling for color and then a cut in a salon, that’s a red flag to me.
The golden secret – good dimension
If you think about what a little blonde child’s hair would look like in the summer months with natural shine and sun rays, the highlighted area is on the hair shell – the top layer. The underlying layers are usually darker. This dimension is the key to an “expensive” blonde color as an adult. If you separate the back of Jennifer Aniston’s hair, she actually has a much darker base color underneath, which then acts like a low light and adds even more contrast to the blonde on top. When you separate your hair, you want to see all that beautiful dimension — and Jennifer’s hair color is one of the most sought-after hair colors because it doesn’t look flat. I often have women in my chair who say they want to go blonder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean more highlights. You shouldn’t put highlights where the sun doesn’t hit your hair naturally.
Full blonde is more difficult to maintain
I think if you are super blonde you really need to choose your makeup and the way you dress and full blonde is not good for hair health in the long run. Every once in a while there will be a big moment where I make my clients really blonde, like a few years ago when Margot Robbie made her really, really blonde for the Oscar for I, Tonya, we got her. She’s playful with her hair color, but we knew the full blonde look wouldn’t last forever as we want to maintain healthy hair. On the other hand, if you’re naturally blonde like Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s more about maintenance and lots of fine, natural baby highlights to give you that “little kid blonde” hair. Gwyneth wears it really well.
Leave the grays in
Luckily for blondes, gray hair can be used in their favor. Right now everyone is obsessed with a more ashy blonde, which is perfect for gray tones as you can leave it in and look like a natural highlight. I always work with the grays in blonde hair rather than trying to fight them because once you try to cover the grays they will grow back and they will be more noticeable. Leaving them in as natural highlights is just a matter of using at-home products to make the gray look really bright and shiny. I developed my dpHue range because whenever my clients were going out of town for a few months of filming, I would put together these grooming products and speak to the hairstylist on set to explain how to keep the color looking vibrant for weeks leaves at a time.
The piece of “money”.
If you frame the face, we like to call it the “money piece”! I really like it when you have the brightness against the face and the darkness underneath. I’m a firm believer that it’s not often that you need to color all your hair, and sometimes a salon appointment can just serve to touch up the front sections. I always tell my clients to try and stay out of the salon as much as possible, especially if they over style it in between. That’s why natural-looking “expensive” blonde highlights work: you can push the color for longer and it should still look good after three months without a salon. Only go back if it really bothers you.
Don’t shampoo too much
If you have a favorite t-shirt and wash it every day, it will degrade the color: the same goes for your hair. We just do too much with our hair and we don’t have to. I have developed an apple cider vinegar hair conditioner (£32; cultbeauty.co.uk) to use instead of shampoo as often as possible as it cleans the hair without removing the good oils. A regular shampoo should really only be used once a week. Otherwise, excessive shampooing will eventually make your hair brittle. Once you stop shampooing your hair so often, it will naturally soften and you won’t have to use too much conditioner either.