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5 ways to get natural looking, sunkissed hair

August 3rd 2015 / Anna Hunter

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Come rain or shine, you CAN get hair like Gigi or Gisele. Here’s how to make your hair look sunkissed, not sizzled…

When it comes to beauty, nay, life quotes, Dolly Parton gives good sound bite. Here’s one of my particular favourites:

“I’m not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I’m not dumb. I also know that I’m not blonde.”

If we laid our beauty cards out on the table, we’d almost certainly discover that our friend’s Bambi length lashes aren’t entirely inherited, and that our colleague’s caramel skin tone is somewhat ‘enhanced’. That’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay in our book; it’s what we do for a living. Hair is one of the more widely discussed elements of our appearance that we ‘fix up’, but the end result is invariably that we want any tinkering or transformations to look natural and nonchalant. “I woke up like this” remains as the prevailing aesthetic, and dewy, glowing skin aside, a soft, flattering scattering of highlights is the holy grail of off-duty supermodel beauty. Dip dyed ombré fans look away now; here’s your guide to faking, and keeping, apparently effortless summer colour.

Take matters into your own hands

You want your hippie surfer girl hair to look devil may care, so, within reason, don’t actually exercise too much care or caution. This is one dye job that is not only perfectly achievable from your own abode, depending on your base colour, but you can also freestyle the application method and not fuss about even distribution of colour or whether you got all of your roots. With a bit of time and a little help from L’Oréal in this case (this company seems to have the monopoly on ‘sunkissed hair’) , it’s feasible that most of us can add-in flashes of light.

As much as the word irks me, this summer’s ‘bronde’ trend can easily translate into sunkissed colour; highlights needn’t be stripy, chunky or formulaic. Paddle in the shallows of the bronde wave by weaving in shades two to three times lighter than your natural colour sparsely throughout your hair, concentrating on the ends (these lighten the most in the sun) and random strands around your face and jawline. Using a custom kit such as L’Oréal Paris Préférence Glam Bronde, £6, in one of the four available colourways that most suits you should make the process pretty easy breezy, as Global Hair Colourist for the brand Christophe Robin explains:

“Bronde is a simple contraction of brunette and blonde, a finish that combines the best of both, offering hair endless nuances and unrivalled luminosity thanks to an abundance of universally flattering honeyed tones.”

“This kit is pretty new generation, it scatters the most subtle blonde, bronze, beige and honeyed tints throughout the hair."

An application brush designed by expert colourists makes it remarkably difficult to botch, and the fact that highlights are tailored to different base colours means that you shouldn’t end up with odd yellow streaks, or you know, no effect at all for your efforts. The effect needn’t be glam as the product name suggests, as the team behind the kit highlight (sorry):

“To attain a bronde look that’s slightly matte, naturally sunkissed and totally Californian, apply the dye by simply brushing it through the hair in a natural movement, thus creating natural variations in tone.”

If all of this natural brushing is a bit much for your chilled out, soon to be sunkissed self, L’Oréal Casting Sunkissed Jelly, £4.99, is pretty much the finger painting of the hair dye world. Smooth it onto specific strands or all over when hair is dry, add a bit of heat with a blow dryer, twist it up to get a dappled effect, take it down and swish into the sunset (you don’t need to rinse it out either). It can only be used on uncoloured dark to light blondes, but as low maintenance, low cost goldilocks go, it’s genius.

...Or go pro

If you’ve got a darker base colour, coarse hair or simply like to leave the chemistry to the well qualified (often wise), you’ll find that salons are well up to speed as to what’s sunkissed, and what’s ‘blah’ or a bit obvious. One such collection of tastemakers are the team at Charles Worthington, who recently took me from slightly tired former ombré to sunny and shiny thanks to the newly coined feather lights service. Master stylist Katie Allan blended three different shades of blonde artfully from roots to tips, effectively painting on mermaid hair with light, ashy ends and more graduated, warmer tones closer to roots to blend out my former colour root ‘helmet’. Sure, I’d never attain this level of sunkissed au naturel, but I adore it regardless, and the fact that some of my nearest and dearest have asked questions such as “have you had a fringe trim or something?” suggests that it is in fact very convincing with a je ne sais quoi appeal. If you’re hankering after the same thing, here’s the deal with feather lights according to the CW sunkissed squad:

“The natural blonde tones from childhood dictate the palette for this technique where feather-shaped sections are lightened from root to tip, working from subtle to strong.”

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Feather lights are yours from £90 at a Charles Worthington Salon with a colour expert or principal stylist. Call 02078315303 or visit the website.

Lighten up

The alternative to traditional dyes is a spritz away, as John Frieda Creative Colour Director as revered blonde buff Nicola Clarke explains:

“In terms of lightening hair at home, there’s always room for good old lemon juice! On the other hand there are fantastic products available now that don’t damage the hair, but help to encourage lightening. Technology has come a long way.”

John Frieda Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray, £4, is great for spotlighting individual pieces or for an all-over sunkissed look. It has lavender technology to eradicate brassiness. You can even use it on red or brown hair to create softer tones around the face and touch up the ends for a sunkissed feel.”

Given that Nicola’s clients include Kate Moss and Kate Winslet, she practically invented this in-salon sunkissed blonde business. Unsurprisingly, she’s pretty savvy when it comes to taking care of it too.

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Hydrate your highlights

Whether you’ve been at the bottle or on the beach, sunkissed hair simply won’t have the Moss appeal if it’s matted and dry. You’re aiming for dappled by the sun, not dragged through a hedge, so for sunkissed lengths to look their best your hair needs some serious supplementation to counter the environmental ravages of summer and chemical damage that can accompany lightening. Just step it up, says Nicola:

“Use a really good quality shampoo and conditioner and try applying almond oil to the hair while you’re in the sun to nourish and protect it. It’ll keep your scalp in great condition too, which contributes to the overall health of your hair.”

Bring out your naturally or artificially sunkissed lights by using a gentle, specialist product designed for blonde hair. Pureology is the brand of choice for many a highbrow colourist; the sulfate free, colour retention formulas are practically elixirs of life for coloured hair, helping to illuminate a colourist’s handiwork and extend its longevity (possibly handier from a client point of view). Big up your blonde bits with the Perfect 4 Platinum Reconstruct Repair Masque, currently £20.50. It’s scaffolding for sun and dye exposed hair, with clever anti-fade insurance incorporating full spectrum UVA and UVB filters and antioxidant, anti-ageing vitamins C and E. It’s also packed with proteins to strengthen hair and natural plant oils to soften without any heaviness or lank styles post shower. Up its ante by not washing hair too often if you can help it. Spend your summer pennies on a top notch conditioner, and shampoo sparingly to preserve colour; you might hold on to natural summer lights without even trying…

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Learn the lingo

Not the local one, although that probably won’t go amiss if you don’t want olives on your pizza. The hair colour vocab, however, might help you to translate your specific idea of ‘sunkissed’ into beachy hair reality, especially seeing as everyone has a different idea as to what causal highlights could entail. You’ve already got ‘bronde’ and ‘feather lights’ down, but here are some other sunkissed strategies that go by other names:

Balayage: One Nicola’s most popular salon techniques, balayage involves painting surface strands, freestyle, resulting in an understanding, natural colour with no harsh, blocky regrowth.

Baby Lights: Designed to recreate a childlike halo of light around the head (we were all angels), baby lights are lighter flecks of colour placed around the hairline, for a youthful finish. Nicola describes it as a very ‘pretty and summery’ approach to colour.

Sombré: Let’s face it, dipped ends are a mighty convenient way to dodge having your roots done, and my colourist Katie noticed that more clients requested ombré during the recession. Once the economy started to see a recovery, clients graduated away from stark ombré, and the ‘sombré, or ‘subtle ombé’ was born. Lighter ends are a quintessential sunkissed component, so this technique combines deeper roots with a more graduated, less defined lightening through strands.

Colour Contouring: Think sunkissed sections and the ultimate colour for your face shape. See here for more details…

Are you thinking of dabbling in any of these techniques or have you gone bronde? I’d love to hear about it- comment below or tweet me @AnnaMaryHunter

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