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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Go From Dark Red to Golden Blonde Hair

It's a process.
Red to blonde hair

Q: I've always had darker hair, but I want to try something new and go blonde. I'm just not sure which shade would look best with my complexion. 

From The Styling Edit Archives

My hair is naturally brunette, but I've been dyeing it dark red for nearly six years. 

Hair consultation Katelynn

Katelynn wants to know which shade of blonde would suit her complexion.

It's somewhat thick, and is damaged from heat and chemicals—so it's very hard to work with. It also won't hold a curl and doesn't stay straightened for very long. What would you suggest? — Katelynn

Hair consultation Katelynn

Katelynn dyes her naturally brunette hair dark red.

A: Katelynn, thank you for sending along your request for a consultation. Your skin is actually quite stunning for blonde hair.

Since you have a yellow-pink skin tone, you have to stay far away from anything yellow. I recommend going to a light golden blonde. 

But I think you should have two tones in your hair, not just one. Your base colour needs to stop being red, and you should go to a warm honey, towards the gold side. Then let the highlights be a very light gold blonde. 

Khloe Kardashian Strong Looks Better Naked book signing Barnes Noble 2015

Khloé Kardashian at a 2015 Barnes & Noble book signing for "Strong Looks Better Naked."

Khloe Kardashian Good American VFiles Pop-Up 2017

Khloé Kardashian at the 2017 Good American and VFiles Pop-Up.

To get there, you've got two choices.

Option one would be stripping the red out of your hair. But since you said that your hair is already damaged, it should not be your first choice.

I would do option two, which is a lot of highlights. This is another way to get rid of the red. But you're going to need about two to three sessions for your hair to look as I would like it to look, so it's going to take about a year. 

The first application will have the biggest effect. Your colourist has to stack your highlights for you to get a lot of blonde. A stacking formation means that they are very tight next to each other, all over the head. Some are thinner, and some are thicker. You only want to do the gold blonde highlights at this visit. Relax with the base colour for now, and just let the red fade out a little bit.

By the second time you go to your hairstylist, which will be in about a month and a half, you should only have about 20 to 30 percent red left in there. Another round of highlights should get rid of most of the red. Then, on the rest of your hair, you can do a Level 8, probably half natural pigment, half gold, for your base colour. Your colourist will understand what this means.

The third time you come in for base colour and highlights, it should be flawless. 

Hailey Bieber Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2020

Hailey Bieber at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Ashley Benson Night of Generosity Gala 2014

Ashley Benson at the 2014 Night of Generosity Gala.

To counteract the damage, you need to be moisturizing on a weekly basis with a mask for colour-treated hair (I like Kérastase). You can also do liquid protein treatments at your hair salon.

Kerastase Reflection Masque Chromatique

Kérastase Reflection Masque Chromatique

One more thing. Once you go lighter, with all the golden highlights, you'll want to change the colour of your lipstick. Dark lips are going to look even darker and harder with your new blonde hair, so consider a softer pink shade. 

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