For years, if not decades, it seemed like the only hair-coloring trend that reigned supreme was going blonde — or blonder. Finally, we’re starting to see a return to the dark side as countless celebrities, from Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid to Billie Eilish and Dove Cameron, a transition away from their once-blonde tresses.
One major incentive for opting for a darker hair color is that it can restore a healthier, shinier look to the hair, according to Andrew Fitzsimons, a celebrity hairstylist whose client list includes JLO, Meghan Fox, and Kim Kardashian. “Everyone is currently obsessed with this high-shine lacquer look, which translates and shows up well with darker hair tones,” he says.
Another big push for darker tones is that it’s significantly lower maintenance. With salons being shut down during the pandemic and a continuum of spaced-out appointments available, it was a huge plus not having to worry about frequent touch-ups. “Typically blonde guests come in for touch-ups every 6-12 weeks, but with darker balayage and toned-down dimensional brunettes their maintenance could be as little as coming to the salon two to three times a year,” says Courtney Brennan, color and extension specialist at Spoke & Weal Boston.
There’s also no denying that the winter season has something to do with it, as Fitzsimons always sees a return to darker, warmer tones during this time of year. “Blonde dyes are drying and can weaken hair strands, and with winter weather being typically dry and harsh,” he says. “With that said, dark hair still requires proper upkeep, and people should still consult with their stylist, depending on their hair’s specific needs.”
Just like with any color change, especially one so drastic as going from blonde to brunette, it’s important to make sure you’re fully on board — and that you do it the right way. Here, professional hairstylists share their best advice for people hoping to rock a darker ‘do.
Meet the Experts
Andrew Fitzsimons is a celebrity hairstylist whose client list includes JLO, Meghan Fox, and Kim Kardashian.
Courtney Brennan is a color and extension specialist at Spoke & Weal Boston.
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based master hair colorist.
Brittany King is a colorist at Larry King Salon in London and Mare Salon in Los Angeles.
Krystel Cuadra is a colorist at FEKKAI SoHo.
Test out the look with a wig or online simulator
The best way to know if you’re going to like a certain hair color is to try it on — you can do that in-person if you have access to a wig in that shade or virtually, thanks to a slew of hair color simulators, like Garnier’s Hair Color Virtual Try-On and Madison Reed’s Virtual Hair Coor Tool, many of which are free to access online. New York City-based master hair colorist, Stephanie Brown, recommends testing the waters to determine the color that you like best, and one that works well with your skin tone. “You don’t want to be shocked by dying your hair dark and not liking it, as it isn’t easy to go back to your lighter color!” she says.
Decide how big of a change you’re looking for
There are plenty of options you can choose from if you’re looking to go darker, so it’s important to determine how long you want your hair to be darker and how much of a change you want, notes Brennan. “For example, seasonal color changes are popular, so if a guest wants to go darker in October, I ask if they will want to be blonde again in April,” she says. “This would help me decide on how permanent to go with the color change.” Therefore, a consultation with a professional colorist is so important — make sure you’re in good hands so that your efforts yield good results.
Come to your appointment with reference photos
If someone is curious about changing up their look and wants to go darker, the first thing Brennan asks them is for a picture of what they are desiring. “This gives me a starting point to go from, and we can start by comparing the hair color they have to the picture,” she says. She recommends choosing pictures where the person has a similar length and texture to yours. Brennan also recommends bringing multiple pictures. “Lighting is everything, and all of these Instagram pictures have filters on them as well as being shot in much different lighting,” she says. “The same picture can look very different even in the same shot, and you’ll see that a lot, so I always ask which part of the color they’re looking at.”
Consider adding a pop of light around your face
If you’ve been blonde your whole life, going dark is admirable but may be a little jarring for you since it’s the opposite of what you’re used to seeing in the mirror. For this reason, Brittany King, colorist at Larry King Salon in London and Mare Salon in Los Angeles, suggests easing into a darker shade and considering adding a pop of lightness around your face to soften things up. “This way it’s not so dramatic right away, and you feel as if you still have some blonde hair,” she says. “It also keeps you having some dimension and doesn’t come off as an all-over solid one color.”
Invest in salon-quality hair products
To maintain your hair’s quality and prevent the color from fading too quickly, Brennan suggests investing in salon-quality, color-safe shampoo, and conditioners. “If you were lighter, your color lacked the melanin that lives in the cuticle and when we are depositing color into those lighter pieces, you have a greater chance of the color fading quickly if you’re not using high-quality products at home,” she says. She recommends Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo or Aveda nutriplenish Light Moisture Shampoo as well as K18 to keep your hair strong. Fitzsimmons is a fan of NatureLab — specifically their Repair Shampoo and Conditioner.
Be ready to make trips to the salon every few months
If you already have a darker shade going on and are just looking to go a bit darker, the upkeep is minimal. You can expect to go to the salon every 3-4 months if you’re looking to maintain your hue. However, for people with lighter hair naturally who are looking to go darker, it is a bit more of a time commitment. In fact, Krystel Cuadra, colorist at FEKKAI SoHo, advises her clients in this category to make a trip to the salon every 6-8 weeks to refresh their color.
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