Being a blonde at 50-plus is a magic trick. Instantly your skin looks brighter and your hair appears thicker, and you feel happier, sexier, more glowing — without a stitch of makeup. The big decision is whether to go blondish, a little blonder or just all-out blond. That’ll depend on your wallet and how much time and effort you’re willing to spend. It’s not just about the color, either. It’s important to blond up strategically and responsibly to avoid damaging hair that’s probably thinner, drier and more fragile. Here are 11 brilliant blond options to choose from.
- 1. Going brondeA sun-kissed “bronde,” or blond-and-brown mix, lets you feel blondish while keeping your base color brown. Like a lot of newer blond options, bronde looks great on just about every skin tone, hair texture and style and is ideal for blending in grays. The blondish-brownish highlights and lowlights can be subtle or complex, depending on how many shades were used and the number of techniques involved. A colorist will use highlights — foils or painted-on balayage — or a combination of base color, highlights and darker lowlights. The less contrast involved, the more natural the effect.
- PHOTO BY: GABE GINSBERG/WIREIMAGE; STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE; FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Halle Berry, Hoda Kotb and Christine Baranski2. Adding chunky gold streaksAnother way to stay brunette but go blonder is to have a colorist add some bold golden streaks. These can be just around the face (they’re called “money-piece highlights”) or all over (especially if you wear your hair up or pulled back) to break up and brighten the brown base. It’s a look that was popular in the 1990s but has come roaring back as an easy, effective way to add glamour without a lot of work. These warm spicy ribbons of color give mature hair a dynamic look and can be produced with a classic foil technique or balayage. Again, the more contrast seen between base and streaks, the bolder the effect.
- PHOTO BY: GEORGE PIMENTEL/WIREIMAGE; PAUL ARCHULETA/GETTY IMAGES; STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE(Left to right) Michelle Pfeiffer, Vivica A. Fox and Ellen Pompeo3. A blond meltWhat started out as ombré color has evolved into a dark root (also known as a root shadow) that seamlessly transitions to blond without an obvious break between the two shades. During 2020 when salons were closed, two-tone hair emerged as a lasting trend. Becoming a blonde got root-ier than ever, and now the melt has become a low-maintenance look in itself. A colorist can soften the color break for a truly gradient flow — even if the colors are very different at roots and tips.
- PHOTO BY: STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE (2); ZACH PAGANO/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Tyra Banks, Mariah Carey and Taraji P. Henson4. High-contrast blond and brownWhat used to be a “don’t” is now OK as a “do.” High-contrast brown and blond is a more extreme version of the blond melt. It works best as an add-on separate hair piece — a blond ponytail, locs or a topknot — on brown hair. Although it is not for everyone or even all the time, a blond statement piece turns everyday brown hair into a two-tone, head-turning look. And it’s even a good way to try out blond.
- PHOTO BY: JOHN SHEARER/GETTY IMAGES; VERA ANDERSON/WIREIMAGE; STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE(Left to right) Leslie Mann, Nicole Kidman and Patricia Clarkson5. Reddish blondLike bronde, strawberry blonde is a mix of two colors — red and blond. Strawberry blonde isn’t one specific color, either. It’s a range of shades from light to medium with varying amounts of red and blond. The color works like a big dose of peachy-apricot blusher, so pale or sallow complexions that often feel “washed out” by blond might love the extra rosy effect of strawberry. Richer reds and auburns flatter a wider range of skin tones, too, but that’s another story! Be sure to take photos to the salon with you. You want strawberry blonde or possibly rose-gold … not pink.
- PHOTO BY: DOMINIK BINDL/GETTY IMAGES; VINCENT SANDOVAL/GETTY IMAGES FOR ABA; MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR LIFETIME(Left to right) Holly Hunter, Allison Janney and Queen Latifah6. Dark tawny blondDeeper blond shades like amber, honey and caramel are another way to be a blonde without going too light or too bright. Leaving a visible brown root in this case is essential for producing a more natural-looking and complementary effect that makes darker blond so particularly successful with dark eyes and/or dark brows. You can always add a few lighter highlights on top to crank up the color as needed. Ask for off-root highlights — as in balayage — for the most minimal upkeep.
- PHOTO BY: STEVE GRANITZ/GETTY IMAGES; JOHN LAMPARSKI/GETTY IMAGES; SLAVEN VLASIC/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Mary J. Blige, Jane Krakowski and Christie Brinkley7. Statement blondThis is wow, go-for-the-gold hair. It’s high-maintenance and unabashedly fake — but if you love it, who cares?! Most statement blondes don’t prefer the rooty look (if at all), and the extreme color requires time spent on hair masks, extra conditioning and regular touch-ups. Though you’ll see it on long-haired ex-supermodels and lots of celebrities (it’s great for stage, film and TV work), statement blond hair even makes everyday bobs and short crops on regular real women like us more fun.
- PHOTO BY: PAUL ARCHULETA/FILMMAGIC; PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN/GETTY IMAGES; JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Lisa Kudrow, Renée Zellweger and Naomi Watts8. Soft blondThis elegant blond shade is sophisticated and pretty authentic looking, if that’s your goal. It whispers rather than shouts thanks to a blend of gentle warm and cool tones that produce a sandy, beigey or creamy sort of blond. Soft blond usually has a base of light brown or gray-brown plus muted highlights. It’s a great blond choice if you prefer neutral colors, low-key makeup, classic clothes and a routine that won’t break the bank.
- PHOTO BY: PAUL ARCHULETA/GETTY IMAGES; DAVID LIVINGSTON/GETTY IMAGES; ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES(Left to right) Debbie Matenopoulos, Jane Fonda and Rebecca Gayheart9. Cool ash-blond color
Smoky-blond streaky hair used to be called “dirty blond.” It’s an edgier look — and while not for everyone, does add dimension and sparkle via highlights and lowlights to hair that’s dark brown or brown-gray. The big difference here is the silvery rather than golden color, though it’s still blond. If you wear silver jewelry and have a lot of gray, ash could be your shade. Here’s the catch: Thanks to its cool tone, ash-blond color does not warm up the skin, so it’s harder to wear at 50-plus unless you have a vibrant complexion or no problem wearing blush to compensate. You’ll also need to stock up on purple shampoo to keep out brassy tones.
- PHOTO BY: STEPHANE CARDINALE – CORBIS/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES; ARNOLD JEROCKI/WIREIMAGE; RACHEL LUNA/FILMMAGIC(Left to right) Julia Roberts, Maria Bello and Melanie Griffith10. Beachy blondThis boho blond look has an L.A. surfer vibe. The whole idea is to fake and exaggerate the kind of sun-streaked hair you’d get spending long days at the beach. It’s more casual than the statement blond, but it also is a medium- to high-maintenance color. That’s due to strategic layers of highlights in varying shades carefully foiled and painted. Beachy blond is a good choice if your hair is medium to longer in length and worn loose and tousled or wavy to show off its multitone effect.
- PHOTO BY: ANGELA WEISS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES; JON KOPALOFF/GETTY IMAGES; STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE(Left to right) Bette Midler, Helen Mirren and Glenn Close11. A platinum blondeDyeing your dark hair icy blond is just about the most damaging thing you can do. So, don’t. However, if at 50-plus your hair is pretty much a light gray/white tone, then champagne and creamy blond highlights are a great idea. Ask your colorist to add sparkling highlights and a pearly toner to elevate your already light hair, brighten up your skin and banish any yellow or dingy tones. The idea is to blur the boundary between gray and blond. Why not?