“Expensive Brunette” Doesn’t Have To Cost A Thing

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
In a recent interview, Hailey Bieber told me that she doesn't highlight her hair anymore. While she did dye her hair blonde prior to the pandemic, she stopped touching up her highlights in the interest of getting it longer and healthier with the extra time at home, until the color eventually grew all the way out.
Bieber's hair color change doesn't seem all that dramatic until you reference how blonde she was last year. Now, she says, her hair has never looked or felt better. "I did see a big difference in my hair when I stopped dyeing it," Bieber says. "I don't dye it blonde anymore and I try to stay away from coloring it at all."
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While the model's hair color now appears to be all natural, her decision to quit blonde highlights and go darker speaks to a bigger A-list hair-color trend. Some stylists are calling it "expensive brunette" after the rich, glossy sheen of a dark brown, while others, like Bieber, are calling it what it is: a grown-out root.
According to celebrity colorist Morgan Parks, what we're seeing play out is less of a seasonal hair-color trend and more so the evolution of what happened as the result of pandemic lockdown, when color appointments were less frequent. "With quarantine, everyone was given the opportunity to learn how to embrace their natural hair color," Parks explains. "At first this was a huge transition, but for many, this turned out to be really eye-opening in the best of ways."
Bieber is one proponent, but there are many more celebrities who used to be blonde and have transitioned darker. Recently, Sofia Richie posted a selfie captioned "back to my roots," showing her brown hair with its blonde highlights stripped out. Blake Lively also made a November press appearance in New York City showing off a grown-out shade of bronde that appeared even more brunette under flashbulb light.
Another recent and rather dramatic example is actress Dove Cameron, who colorist Matt Rez recently transitioned from a rooted blonde "to the darker side," with a uniform cool brunette. In the side-by-side comparison, Cameron's root appears to be the same shade. In the "after," though, the mid-lengths and ends go dark to match.
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If you're not playing the waiting game by letting your blonde grow out with time, the process of going processed blonde-to-brown in a single sitting looks a bit like a color correction, which colorist Adriana Pinto tells me involves adding lowlights, a darker dye, or colored gloss over the blonde to "fill in" the previously bleached strands.
Celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham says the grown-out-root trend might be a general shift towards a less fussy hair-color aesthetic. "Hair is almost always darker at the roots and a little lighter at the ends, so this trend is basically low-maintenance color," Cunningham explains. Moreover, if you let your hair grow darker gradually, there's no real shock value — the highlights just fade down your hair until they're at the ends. If you look at it as an investment, this time next year, your color could be a clean slate.

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