How to get the perfect Barbie blonde

By Sally Learmouth on July 28th, 2023

With Barbie fever sweeping the globe we wanted to find out the hair pro’s top tips on how to create that signature Barbie blonde…

Karine Jackson, organic colour specialist and former London Hairdresser of the year says, “I like to cleanse the hair of any build-up of pollution or ashy tones, and get it in great condition, evening out the porosity with treatments. To get a really clean blonde, don’t try to lift the hair too quickly – this will draw out the undercoat and leave too much warmth. Your toner should be adding to your blonde not neutralising undertones.”

Salon owner and colour specialist Gina Conway is excited for the financial opportunities that the Barbie trend could bring, joking “Boy, if I see another balayage in my books I may cry! Although I LOVE doing them it’s so much better for the bank balance as we see Barbie blondes twice as often in salon. However, while I hope it will shine a light on highlights and bold bright blonde hair, not every skintone or hair type is suited to Barbie blonde.”

Tina Mehmi at RUSH agrees, “Blonde is not as easy to get right as it looks, and the client really must be prepared for very regular salon visits to keep the tone fresh and really understand that the maintenance of the hair is as important as the service itself. I tend to avoid scalp bleaching, often introducing a money piece around the face or balayage initially and then discuss with the client how they will achieve their desired blonde over a few appointments/months to ensure as little damage to the hair as possible. I change the technique and strategically place the blonde each time for maximum lightness, and I NEVER lighten hair without using Olaplex Treatments 1 & 2, always explaining to my clients why I’m using this to keep the hair in the best possible condition.”

A high maintenance service like Barbie blonde is a really good opportunity to educate clients about plexes and care products – Gina says, “If the hair is in great condition you can happily lift more than 3 or 4 levels. I find if you’re doing a darker shade lifting more than 4 shades, you will need a pre-treatment, and really all professional services today should begin with a pre-treatment of either an oil, a bond building treatment like Aveda’s Botanical Repair trio or Olaplex.”

Tina adds “It’s also essential that clients who are looking to achieve the barbie blonde shade look after their hair at home to keep it in the best condition possible and the blonde looking its cleanest and healthiest. A silver shampoo like Goldwell Dualsenses Silver Shampoo every couple of weeks will get rid of brassiness and keep colour looking fresh. Clients should also use at home hair masks/treatments and visit the salon every couple of months for a treatment to keep their blonde looking hydrated and glossy just like Barbie’s.”

Suzie McGill at Rainbow Room International says, “I would start by using the Schwarzkopf Fibreplex system, which helps to protect and strengthen hair during the lightening process. Then using the BlondMe range, depending on your starting hair colour, you may need to pre-lighten with a gentle bleaching agent. I recommend mixing the bleach with the Fibreplex additive to ensure minimal damage to the hair. Once you’ve achieved the perfect blonde base, use the Schwarzkopf BlondMe toners to eliminate any unwanted brassiness and create a flawless, cool-toned blonde. For clients that want to achieve a more dimensional blonde, I love to combine techniques including highlights and babylights to give the hair a more natural finish that’s full of depth and has a gorgeous shine.”

Gina cautions, “It can look really harsh and contrasty if you lift too high unless you use a slightly darker blonde to soften the look. I love using a base-break on my blonde highlights to soften the dark natural and bring the two (dark roots and light highlights) together. I call it “carmelizing”. It makes a great “in-between visits” service when they’re coming back for a cut but not ready yet for another highlight. Choose your peroxide at a 10 volume when doing a full head highlight (unless your base is really dark, you will need to start with 20) and start at the back so that you can take them out when they are ready first and when you move to top and sides you can go up a notch with your peroxide. I never overlap my bleach on old colour if I’m not changing the colour – no need to compromise the condition if I don’t need to. The finer the hair, the lower level of peroxide you will need to use. Use your lower level around the hairline too as it’s so delicate. Higher levels can create hair melt or snap.

“Toning blondes is as fine an art as de-colourizing it as well. With so many shades available, choosing the right one is crucial. I always start at the back, and work toward the hairline last. Once you’ve applied roots, and like the look, apply to the ends. Ends grab quickly if hair is porous so keep a close eye! Barbie likes a creamy blonde; I like to describe my blondes using delicious adjectives that they find enticing, like vanilla, honey, caramel, latte, or reminding them of holidays like sunny, sandy or sea-foam”.

“I also like to add some clear gloss into my toner for that extra shine, you really can tell the difference and as blonde hair tends to absorb light where dark hair reflects it, blondes always need that extra boost of brilliance.”

We’d love to see your Barbie blondes – tag us on Instagram @salongoldinsurance

Sally Learmouth

Sally is the founder of Gloss Communications which specialises in lifestyle public relations, from traditional PR across print, online and television, through to influencers and social media management, events and copywriting. Since 2005, Gloss has created hugely successful PR campaigns. Having created successful campaigns for Jack Howard, Luke Benson, Jamie Stevens, Errol Douglas, Karine Jackson, Cally Borg, Tina Hollis, Christopher Appleton, O&M, Nine Yards, Authentic Beauty Concept, Trevor Sorbie and more.

All articles by Sally Learmouth

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