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Tips for successfully transforming your hair colour

We're literally bubbling over with enthusiasm for the second post in our current four-part series offering helpful hints and advice for brightening up the back end of winter with a whole new hair colour. Why? Because part two is all about going blonde!

But before we cue up the pre-conditioning advice, let's take a moment to cut through the preconceptions. The bottom line is that there are probably as many prefixes to the word blonde designed to illustrate a lazy stereotype (whether it's 'ice', 'bubbly', 'busty' or just 'dumb'), as there are to describe the amazing variety of shades in the blonde spectrum, from 'platinum' and 'ash' through to 'honey' and 'strawberry'. With this in mind our first piece of advice for anyone considering going blonde for the first time is keep your sense of humour as light as your new hair colour, and memorise the smartest words on the subject, from our all-time favourite fake blonde, Ms Dolly Parton, who famously said "I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb - and I also know I'm not blonde." Case dismissed.

Aside from the clichés, some of the facts are these; only two percent of the world's population is naturally blonde, and blondeness comes from a lack of the two types of melanin (which create pigmentation) in the hair, eumelanin (which makes hair black) and phaeomelanin (which makes it red). It first occurred 11,000 years ago in the northern countries of Europe, and has been both envied and coveted by the men and women of darker skinned civilisations ever since.

Whether they really do have more fun, or of gentlemen actually prefer them, is irrelevant - the real blast is the adventure of going blonde. However, if you think you're beginning to see the light, then get the full benefit by doing it right, as Clair Jackson our honey-haired stylist explains.

"Forget 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' - you can easily double that when you start talking blonde, and the key to this colour is finding the tone that suits you most," she explains. "Start with your eye-colour. Blue and green eyes suit warm blonde tones and also work wonderfully well with the cooler shades, like ash, but if you have darker skin and eyes I'd recommend you focus on the warmer golden hues. However if you have pale, porcelain skin you can still rock the flaxen-maned, platinum end of the spectrum, even if you have really dark brown eyes - Gwen Stephani is a perfect example."

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"For a more natural look, keep the lightest part on your mid lengths and ends and keep the root slightly darker and flatter. Highlights are a great way of getting blonder if your hair is naturally light, but I'd be inclined to avoid blonde highlighting darker hair as the contrast just gets too heavy.

The only cliché that's true is blondes are high maintenance, so if you're going that way be prepared to commit to taking care of your colour. Glosses are great for refreshing blonde tone, and you'll also need to follow up with a great shampoo and conditioner."

Our stylist and colour aficionado, Jodie Daniels agrees. "Blonde makes you feel fresh, expensive and exciting! But whether you're going natural and subtle or full-on statement, you've got to get it right to get it chic!

I like to advise an overhaul at the beginning of the year, then a tailored maintenance program throughout the year, taking into consideration holidays, season changes, etc. Blonde hair needs tender loving care. Keep blonde hair well hydrated and have the right balance of protein to keep it strong. Make sure you use the right heat protector when styling so it doesn't dry out and lose its lustre, when blonde looks brittle there's nothing worse."

Some people go blonde for a bit - others undergo a true conversion. Our Sevenoaks salon director Dawn Oliver, undoubtedly falls into the second category.

'Having spent a huge part of my life chestnut, black and copper, the path to blondness wasn't simply a stroll down the yellow brick road! There were some very tricky tones to go through before my desired colour was achieved, and after my first set of highlights I even texted my partner to say 'its what's on the inside that counts" - the term 'trailer-trash' really didn't do it justice."

"But with patience and perseverance a whole new world opened up, and so long as you keep it short and use the best products you can, it's also a world of real versatility the subtle changes in tone that are offered now are amazing. I have dark eyes and very pale, translucent skin, so I found my shades through trial and error (even hairdressers don't always get it right first time), and I decided I prefer the ashier tones. Only yesterday I tried REDKEN's new pearl range, I'm feeling gorgeous today..."

"The bottom-line when going for a big colour change is be realistic, and do be guided by a professional, because I promise you, canary-yellow home-bleached hair suits no one..."

With advice this golden from our flaxen-haired experts, let's make sure we never use the words 'dumb' and 'blonde' in the same sentence again!

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