The Ultimate List of Must-Have Products For Blondes
I'm a level six on the hair-color wheel — the darkest blond you can get without actually being brunette. That means I spend more time than I care to admit harassing my colorist about how to safely lift my color to the lightest blond possible. (Although, I definitely push the bleaching rules when it comes to getting the perfect shade.)
My hair tends to lift warmer than cool, so keeping it on the cooler side means using products that will keep my hue bright and vibrant but also restore the health of my hair. And, with maintenance necessary every six to eight weeks, it also means making sure the integrity of my hair stays intact.
Given the fact that I test products for both work and personal use, I decided to share some of my favorites. Whether you're looking for a sulfate-free option, SPF for your mane, or a brightening product, there's something for everyone — from the platinum daredevils to those with soft highlights.
Want to suggest a product for me to test? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be updating the gallery with more products as I go through them.
1. Get Rid of Brassiness With Color-Neutralizing Products
You'll need products that revive dull, flat color in between salon visits, which is why purple shampoo is a must. These products fight brassiness and give your hair a cool tone.
L'Oreal Professional Vitamino Color A-OX Color Corrector Blondes Cream
Lived-In Color™ guru Johnny Ramirez of Ramirez-Tran Salon suggests L'Oreal Professional Vitamino Color A-OX Color Corrector Blondes Cream ($27), and since he's my colorist, I consider his word the gospel. This is a blue-purple shampoo, so you can expect your hair to go from yellow to an icier tone.
However, Johnny is always quick to clarify. "Brassy hair has a lot to do with your hair dresser, and how much heat exposure you give your hair," he says.
Evo Fabuloso Blonde Shampoo
Purple negates brassy tones, since it's opposite yellow and orange on the color wheel. If you just got blond highlights or went as light as Gwen Stefani, for example, you'll need to keep the purple on standby. I like this option from Evo, which is made for platinum blondes. The packaging is cute, the brand voice is fun and quirky, and the product keeps your blond a nice icy shade.
John Frieda Colour Correct Anti-Brassy Cleansing Treatment
The Colour Correct Anti-Brassy Cleansing Treatment ($10) from John Frieda should be used three times a week to neutralize brassiness, brighten, clean, and boost shine. Plus, it softens the hair, too. Use it like a mask to help revive your hair color at a budget-friendly price point.
Redken Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner, Platinum
Redken Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner ($32) is a lot of fun because it works almost like a science project.
Two chambers — one containing a violet conditioner — have formulas that deposit color into the hair, depending on where you're at with your color. You adjust how much from each chamber is needed, so your hair remains vivid and hydrated between salon visits. This option is for cool-blond and platinum shades.
Evo Fabuloso Light Beige Conditioner
Did you go too light and want more of an ashy tone to your hair? Evo's Fabuloso Light Beige Conditioner ($40) enhances the tone of your blond in one use to a muted shade. It deposits color to create a beige tone but doesn't contain ammonia or peroxide, so it doesn't strip the hair. It's also great for frizz.
Redken's Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner, Gold
The formula in Redken's Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner, Gold ($32) contains gold, which helps to enhance warm tones.
Pravana The Perfect Blonde Leave-In Treatment
There's definitely the possibility that you can overdo it with the purple shampoo, and your hair can end up looking, well, purple. If you'd rather focus your shampoo and conditioner on reconstructing the hair, Pravana The Perfect Blonde Leave-In Treatment ($20) is a great option. It works similarly to a leave-in conditioner to help repair the hair, but it has a purple tint to help counter any brassy tones you might have. I use it twice a week.
Color Wow Brass Banned Correct & Perfect Mousse
If you have fine hair, mousse can give your the fuller hair you've always dreamed of. Unfortunately, many contain alcohol, which can strip your hair color. Color Wow Brass Banned Correct & Perfect Mousse ($24) is alcohol-free, so there's one less thing to worry about. It also has a lavender tint.
2. Sulfate-Free Products
Most colorists will suggest using products that are SLS-free, or free of sulfates. Sulfates are what make your favorite products foamy, and while they're not necessarily bad for your hair, many experts claim they can strip your hair color quickly — which is not ideal if you've spent a pretty penny on a salon visit!
Pureology Sulfate-Free Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner Duo
If you're lightening your hair, there's a good chance your hair needs some TLC. It can feel dry and crispy if you use heat tools, so using a shampoo and conditioner that takes care of your hair will play a big part in your blond hair journey.
The Pureology Hydrate Shampoo ($28) and conditioner line is known for leaving the hair silky and tangle free, without compromising the color. Trust me, it will be hard to stray away from this brand once you give it a try.
Raindrops Water Filtration Shower Head
This isn't exactly sulfate-free, but it does work to keep your hair color from being stripped away. Water is known to break down and strip your hair of its color due to the minerals and chlorine found in it. Investing in a shower filter helps to reduce the wear and tear these elements might have on your hair. Most filters need to be replaced every six months.
I recently received the Raindrops Filteration System ($120), which was created by hair queens and 901 Salon founders Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee. Living in Los Angeles means the water I consume is exposed to all kinds of minerals and residue, and that got me thinking: if I wouldn't drink water without purifying it, why bathe in water that isn't purified? Plenty of celebrities claim to wash their faces with Evian, and I've read in a variety of beauty groups on Facebook that women are buying filtered water to use in the shower. The most cost-friendly option I've found is the Raindrops system. While it might be an investment, it saves you money in the long run! I'm looking forward to getting my highlights touched up to see how long my color will stay vibrant by using purified water in the shower.
Treatments are like facials for your hair — they're hair-cials!
Joico K-Pak Collection
Joico's K-PAK line is what Jennifer Lawrence used on her hair during the first Hunger Games movie. Taking her hair from blond to brunette and back again created a lot of stress on the hair. This line includes the patent Bio-Advanced Peptide and Quadramine complexes — known to reconstruct the hair cuticle, even after several bouts of hair color.
Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Fine Conditioning Mask
Masks will be your best friend, especially for split ends and frizz. Once a week, apply a conditioning mask as directed. It's best to do this on wet hair, since it will absorb more moisture that way, but if you don't feel like jumping in and out of the shower, spritz your hair with a detangler or leave-in conditioner, then apply the mask.
John Frieda Luminous Glaze
Many times, you have to run to the salon for a gloss or glaze. These treatments help neutralize unwanted shades in the hair (like yellow), deposit color to create a shade (like beige), or add shine.
John Frieda Luminous Glaze ($10) works to create long-lasting shine to your hair, in the comfort of your own home.
Sally Hershberger 24K Liquid Assets Daily Conditioning Remedy
Getting as much moisture as possible is a top priority. Leave-in conditioners can help smooth out strands before a blow-dry and hydrate the hair cuticle on a daily basis. This one includes keratin to help repair damaged hair and split ends.
Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment
When you consistently color your hair, it can break down the strength of your hair cuticle. You'll want to use products that not only soften the cuticle, but also strengthen it. A key ingredient to look for is protein. Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment ($26) includes a vegetable-based protein that helps fill gaps in the cuticle, plus full-spectrum sunscreens to protect your mane.
Just be sure not to overdo it with protein, or your hair can break.
4. UV Shields and Heat Protectants
You wear sunscreen on your face and body — why wouldn't you protect your locks, too? You don't want your fresh dye job altered under the sun!
One product you shouldn't skip once you color your hair? UV and heat protectants. The sun and heat-styling products are two of the biggest factors when it comes to how long your hair color lasts. Think of it as SPF for your mane.
Clockwise from top: Bumble & Bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil ($40), which works like a primer. Apply it before you dry your hair or when you know you'll be in the sun. It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product ($12) has — you guessed it — 10 different ways it works to salvage your strands, including a UV protector. L'Oréal Paris EverPure ($9) line is full of sulfate-free products — a must have for any blonde. Aveda's Sun Care Protective Hair Veil ($28) includes UVA/UVB filters that come from natural oils, like wintergreen and cinnamon bark.
Everyone will tell you that heat styling is the devil when it comes to dyed manes. Lifting your hair color adds stress to your hair, and combining that with heat products further damages it. Before you apply any heat product — because we all know that sometimes curling or flat-ironing your hair is a must — use a thermal protectant.
5. Brightening and Lightening Products
These products take your color up a notch in-between salon visits, but I'd suggest avoiding them unless you're a single process (read: all-over) blonde; it can cause your lowlights or naturally darker base color to lift as well.
John Frieda Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
John Frieda's Sheer Blonde is the OG line of blond products, so I trust pretty much anything the brand offers. The lightening shampoo ($10) is ideal for all blonds, and you could easily use this product daily for the ultimate lightening look. However, I suggest using it as a maintenance product once a week.
Obviously, this is not recommended for brunettes with blond highlights, unless you want your brown locks to start turning orange.
Dessange Paris Solar Blonde Naturale Collection
Dessange Paris is a luxury French hair care brand that you can now get at Target — thank the hair gods!
Designed to help lift naturally blond hair, the Solar Blonde Naturale collection includes shampoo, conditioner, sun spray, and a gelee. With ingredients like chamomile and citrus extracts, you'll see your hair lighten — and brighten — over the course of a few weeks with regular use. The gelee ($12) works similarly to a lightening spray, except it allows you to target specific areas to lighten.
John Frieda Go Blonder Lightening Spray
John Frieda's sophisticated answer to Sun-In was the Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray ($11), and it really does work wonders. I've seen my friends (and myself) go from light shades of blond to inside-of-a-banana-peel blond in a week.
6. Frizz Fighters
Keep your hair in tip-top shape by using products that fight breakage and frizz.
Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Delay Pillow
Silk pillowcases help with everything from wrinkles to keeping your hair from getting roughed up and frizzy. Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Delay Pillow ($69) is made for your skin, but will help protect your hair, too.
Alternatively, you can buy a silk pillowcase ($263+) for pillows you already own.
Tangle Teezer Brush
If you've significantly lightened your hair, you need a brush that will detangle, but isn't so rough that it breaks your hair. The Tangle Teaser Compact Styler Detangling Brush ($20) is a gentle brush that gets rid of knots quickly.