Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.
Contrary to popular opinion, flaxen locks aren't for airheads. Having blonde hair takes work, and not just if you're going platinum. Even medium shades of gold can go super-wonky if you're not diligent about using the right products — and methods — for keeping your blonde light, bright, and shiny.
To get the real deal on what it takes to keep blonde hair gorgeous, we reached out to celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham (she's responsible for the magnificent manes of Gwyneth, Charlize Theron, and Kate Bosworth — no big deal), who schooled us in the basics of blonde maintenance. "First, you'll want to think about the purity of your water," says Cunningham. "A lot of my clients come back to me and they have green or mustardy tones in their hair, and it's actually the water! A water purifier can be a great investment in your hair, because it'll protect those highlights you invested in."
Great color starts in the salon first, of course, so before you head over to get your blow out post-highlights, you should ask your stylist for a gloss treatment. "Whatever your water quality, a gloss treatment will help repel unwanted minerals. You could do a clear gloss with a little gold or lavender to cool your color down or warm it up — it's truly customizable," says Cunningham.
With warm weather coming up, you'll want to be extra diligent with color protection and care. If you're ocean or poolside, Cunningham says that it's always a good idea to soak your hair with fresh water before swimming (bonus points if you add oil afterwards to seal in moisture while you're at it!). But don't worry about that salt, says Cunningham: "I prefer it if my clients go on beach holidays, rather than pool-oriented holidays — salt is actually great for blonde color; just think of surfers! It's very clarifying, actually."
If you do end up with discoloration in your hair, Cunningham has a couple of secrets up her sleeve to save you a trip to the salon. "Tomato juice eliminates green tones — the color and the acid both rinse out those chlorine minerals. For brassiness, you'll want to use a purple shampoo to keep your blonde bright. Try alternating between a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and a purple shampoo. The combination will protect your color, moisturize, and brighten your blonde."
Click through to see our latest blonde-centric picks and worry not — with the right care, those buttery spring highlights will totally last through the summer.