Gen Z has a hot take on hair color: Processed blonde is cheugy. They said the same thing about skinny jeans, and while people had thoughts and counterpoints, we’re still seeing and wearing slouchy denim. This likewise passionate stance on blonde may be validating in the case for hair color. Natural blondes only make up about 2% of the world’s population. The rest are fakes.

Blame the TikTok trend journalists or the outdoor chill but there is a renewed interest for dark shades like “expensive brunette”, and any with obvious root growth. This winter, you don’t need to call blonde “uncool” or ghost your colorist. You can subtly enhance your natural color by using balayage, or an off the-root highlight. Scroll down to find your inspiration.


Celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham recommends an ombre bronde (a brunette-blonde blend), as seen on model Lily Aldridge and Jennifer Lopez. Cunningham says that hair is almost always darker at its roots and lighter at its ends. This trend is ideal for clients looking for low-maintenance color. Lowlights and multi-dimensional color tend to stand out the best when hair is sleek and straight. However, it can look great curled and wavy.

woman holding her white shirt flipping hair

“Expensive” Brunette

The trending “expensive brunette”, which is less about the color of the hair, is more about the quality of the finish. This example was styled by Chuck Amos and shows a shiny and glossy look. A tinted gloss or a clear can make your hair shine. For those who are a blonde processed, you can ask for lowlights and/or a color correction. This will help to return to your brunette roots.

Pumpkin Spice

This un-cheugy warm, soft tone that singer/songwriter Sevda Almadeh refers to as “Pumpkin spice latte” is somewhere between strawberry and copper. It’s just one example of what hairstylist Clayton Hawkins calls “orange and red vibes,” which he predicts will be all the rage come 2022.

Warm Honeycomb

Most colorists favor warm tones when it comes to blonde-like shades. Colorist Sienree Du .points to “warm and rich” blondes, something with leaning toward golden or wheat. Bianca Hillier, colorist, shows you how to make this blonde look sun-kissed and with a warm undertone.

Highlight: “Effortless”

Chezney Schulz, NYC-based colorist, directs us to the “effortless highlight”: This is basically a once-a year lift that is soft and directed to the face frame and ends. This allows for a long growth out and brightens only the areas most visible, such as the curl bangs.

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