Can anyone be blond or blondish? More important: Should you? Mary J. Blige and Taraji P. Henson have blonded up their bobs, while Jaclyn Smith, Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker have given their brown hair the Midas touch.
Celine Dion, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts have gilded for good, and Jennifer Lopez has ombréd in extra sun — so clearly being a Golden Girl is a brilliant idea. But how blond to go is the tricky part, especially when you’re dealing with menopausal changes in hair, skin, and lifestyle. Here are five ways to glow up.
Test your blond-ability with highlights. Start with a few streaks around the face. If grays blend in or gray hair sparkles, your skin seems brighter, lines and wrinkles look softer and hair appears fuller ... you’re on the right track. Highlights can be added to any hair color — natural or chemically treated. If it’s love at first sight, gradually add more blond. Ask your colorist about balayage — a technique in which highlights are painted by hand on the top layers only — or an ombré look that’s lighter on the ends, darker at the roots. Both are fresh ways to ease into lighter hair and avoid a harsh regrowth line.
Compromise by going “brond.” This hybrid of blond and brown is great for medium to dark brunet hair and how Gayle King, Jennifer Lopez, Brooke Shields and Liz Hurley lighten up. Adding caramel, butterscotch or honey highlights — not too light — keeps the look natural, but you will need to retouch your brunet base as needed. Hair color that is light brown or dark blond with a dark and light mix is known as “dirty blond.”
Going blondish, blonder or blondest requires TLC. The blonder you go, the more pampering is required. Keep in mind that you may need: frequent root touch-ups, salon and at-home bonding treatments and glazes to avoid breakage and maintain shine, weekly DIY deep-hydrating masks, leave-in conditioners and color-correcting purple shampoo to counter brassiness or fading. Plus, to keep your locks looking luscious, minimize your heat-styling routine, and use more dry shampoo and fewer wet-to-dry blowouts as part of the deal.
You’re going totally blond? Check wrists and jewelry first. Cool skin tones (light to dark) rock in ashy, beige, platinum, icy champagne or dirty blond shades. Your veins are likely blue or purple, and you glow in silver jewelry. Warm skin tones (light to dark) look radiant in golden, strawberry, beachy, caramel shades — greenish veins and golden jewelry are your extra clues.
Avoid these blonding-up mistakes.
• Going too light or too much of one color can make you look washed out. If you keep adding more makeup to prevent looking drab, this is probably your issue.
• Fried blond hair like cotton candy or with broken off ends is proof of extreme chemical damage exacerbated by heat styling and lazy hair care. Your blond is only as great as you keep it.
• Adding blue, purple or pink to blond (or any other hair color) is a definite don’t. Rainbow streaks are just not cool when you’re 50. Even Helen Mirren — who famously went pink for two months — knew it was a stunt for awards season. Want colorful fun? Treat yourself to some sapphires, aquamarines, amethysts and pink diamonds. Now that’s how to sparkle!
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50+, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love After 50 by Lois Joy Johnson and AARP's Beauty & Style issue.