If you’re not a natural blonde and have been toying with the idea of lightening up your hair color, you likely know how big of a commitment it is. Instead of switching to a super-light shade of blonde hair, like platinum blonde, why not try something a little dirtier? We’re talking about dirty blonde hair. A dirty blonde hair color makes for the perfect transitional shade from dark to blonde—and it’s one hair color that you can definitely get at home. Keep reading to find out what exactly dirty blonde hair looks like, 15 dirty blonde hair color ideas (including dirty blonde highlights and balayage), and tips for taking care of your new, dirty hue since color-treated hair requires special care.
WHAT IS DIRTY BLONDE HAIR?
Dirty blonde hair is a blonde-meets-brown hue that has tones of wheat (or you could say dirt) in it. Dirty blonde hair looks particularly amazing with golden, warm skin tones, while cooler blonde colors, like platinum blonde, look stunning with paler, pinker skin tones—though we wouldn’t say this is a one-size-fits-all rule. Keep in mind that the darker your starting color, the more work it’ll take to achieve a dirty blonde hair color. If you have light brown hair, you may be able to get dirty blonde hair at home, but if you’re a darker brunette, it's probably a good idea to visit a professional colorist. It could even take multiple sessions to get the color you’re after, as anytime you lighten your hair, you’ll need to bleach it first.
15 DIRTY BLONDE HAIR COLOR IDEAS
Need some inspo? Give one of the following 15 dirty blonde hair color ideas a go!
IDEA #1: DIRTY BLONDE HAIR WITH HIGHLIGHTS
Add some extra lift to your dirty blonde mane by rocking dirty blonde hair with blonde highlights. This dirty blonde hair color idea is a favorite of ours during the summer months, as the blonde highlights add a sun-kissed effect to a dirty blonde head of hair.
IDEA #2: ASHY DIRTY BLONDE
If you prefer to keep things on the cooler side, consider rocking an ashy dirty blonde mane. You can easily get the look at home with the help of a cool-toned dirty blonde hair dye, like the L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Medium Ash Blonde. Follow the directions inside the box and your mane makeover will be imminent.
IDEA #3: DISHWATER BLONDE
This modern take on dirty blonde hair seamlessly blends dark and light blonde tones. Even better, the color can be tweaked based on your skin tone and personal preferences. If you’re looking for a customized dirty blonde hair color, dishwater blonde hair is for you.
IDEA #4: DIRTY BLONDE HIGHLIGHTS
Not sure you’re ready to commit to a head full of dirty blonde? Ease into things with dirty blonde highlights. We love the look of this dirty blonde hair color idea when paired with a brunette mane, as the wheat tones of the dirty blonde highlights add the perfect amount of subtle definition to give you a dimensional mane.
Editor’s note: Real quick, if you’re wondering about the difference between dirty blonde hair with highlights and dirty blonde highlights, let us explain. Dirty blonde hair with highlights involves a dirty blonde base with highlights woven throughout, while dirty blonde highlights are dirty blonde in color but can be added to any base color. Got it?
IDEA #5: DARK DIRTY BLONDE
Another way to avoid steering too far from your dark roots is to try a dark dirty blonde hair color. This traditional dirty blonde hue can be achieved with one of our favorite dirty blonde hair dyes, the L’Oréal Paris Excellence Crème in Dark Blonde.
IDEA #6: STRAWBERRY DIRTY BLONDE
What happens when you add red tones into the mix? You get strawberry dirty blonde hair, of course! This modern take on dirty blonde is seriously stunning—imagine a dimensional combo of brown, strawberry blonde, and golden hues. If you’ve ever been curious about what you’d look like as a redhead but don’t want to take the plunge, this hair color idea is a great way to test the waters.
IDEA #7: DIRTY BLONDE BALAYAGE
While there’s nothing wrong with a full head of dirty blonde hair, sometimes a highlighted alternative is the better option—especially if you prefer a low maintenance hair color. Does that ring true for you? Dirty blonde balayage may be worth a try, as this take on the trend won’t require root touch-ups. Sign us up!
IDEA #8: ROOTED DIRTY BLONDE
Speaking of low maintenance hair colors, we love the look of blonde hair with dark roots—specifically, rooted dirty blonde hair! This dirty blonde hair color option will let you keep your natural root—meaning you won’t have to worry about any harsh lines as your hair grows out post-color.
IDEA #9: DIRTY BLONDE OMBRÉ
Another one? Yes, please! Dirty blonde ombré hair is just what you’re likely imagining—dark roots that gradually transition into ashy blonde ends. The color incorporates the hues of a signature dirty blonde color but uses them to create a gorgeous gradient effect.
IDEA #10: DIRTY BLONDE WITH A MONEY PIECE
If you want to add a statement touch to your dirty blonde mane, add a money piece! This term is used to refer to a face-framing highlight that instantly draws the eye. To brighten your look, try a blonde money piece. To deepen it, opt for a brunette one!
IDEA #11: GOLDEN DIRTY BLONDE
Fine-tune your dirty blonde hair color with gorgeous golden tones. This hair color involves a rich, blonde hue that's flattering on those with warm and cool undertones so anyone can get in on the fun.
IDEA #12: REVERSE OMBRÉ
What if you’re a natural blonde who wants to give dirty blonde hair a try? If that’s the case, reverse ombré is the dirty blonde hue for you! Lighter on top and darker at the ends, it’s a beautiful, slightly unexpected gradient of dirty blonde tones.
IDEA #13: DIRTY BRONDE
The brunette version of dirty blonde, dirty bronde still features tones of both blonde and brunette but focuses on the latter. The color puts a bronze, cool-toned twist on the trendy hue.
IDEA #14: DIRTY PLATINUM BLONDE
If you’re a fan of platinum hair but not the maintenance that comes with it, we have good news for you: Dirty platinum blonde hair features the white blonde color you love without the need for constant touch-ups. Your platinum blonde strands will be blended with brunette roots for a subtler, dirtier take on the bold hue.
IDEA #15: HIGH CONTRAST DIRTY BLONDE
While we love the look of an expertly blended color, sometimes a little contrast is just what you need—or in this case, a lot of contrast! Done right, a high contrast dirty blonde hair color is seriously stunning. This hair color features black hair with dirty blonde balayage for a contrasted mane that demands attention.
HOW TO CARE OF A DIRTY BLONDE HAIR COLOR
Regardless of what shade you dye your hair, it’s important to care for it properly—and that means you might have to make a few changes to your routine or add in a few additional steps. Here’s what you need to know about taking care of color-treated dirty blonde hair.
Tip #1: Use a system of shampoo and conditioner designed for color-treated hair
When you color your hair, consider washing your hair with a system of shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for color-treated hair, like the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Intensive Protecting Shampoo and L'Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Intensive Protecting Conditioner. It's also a good idea to be gentle on your strands in the shower, which means using lukewarm water since hot water can strip your hair of essential oils and leave your mane feeling drier and your dirty blonde hair color looking duller.
Tip #2: Swap in a hair mask once or twice a week
Sometimes, color-treated hair just needs a little extra something-something. So, once or twice a week, swap out the above conditioner for the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Repair and Protect Balm. After washing your hair with the coordinating shampoo, apply the hair mask to wet hair and leave it on for three to five minutes, then rinse.
Tip #3: Temporarily hide your gray roots
Not enough time to color those gray roots that are growing in? No problem! Temporarily disguise regrowth with the L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up in Dark Blonde. This lightweight, quick-dry spray lasts until your next shampoo. To use, hold the can four to six inches away from your head and spray it directly onto new growth and partly through the length of your hair to blend in the color.
Tip #4: Air dry your hair instead of using heat tools
From time to time, put down the heat tools and rock your natural texture instead. Dirty blonde hair + beachy waves are the perfect springtime match, and you don't need heat to get the look. Spritz the L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Wave Swept Spray onto towel-dried hair, then create one braid for looser waves or multiple braids for tighter waves. Once your hair has dried, undo the braid (or braids) and tousle your fingers through your waves to break them up for a lived-in look that’s super-pretty.
Ready for one more blonde hair color idea? Next, check out our article, Sand Hair is the Beachy Blonde Balayage of Your Dreams.