7 Top Summer Hair Colors & How To Ask For Them

by | Jul 1, 2023 | Beauty

Photo: Arnold Jerocki/GC Images
RF29: What’s new in hair color right now? We’re so glad you asked. There’s a whole spectrum of shade options, which is both exciting and overwhelming when you’re planning your next appointment. To help, we asked some of our favorite colorists to break down the exact tones and styles they’re excited about for summer — like a surprisingly low-maintenance platinum-adjacent blonde, or a tone of gold that reads as almost pearlescent.
Whether you’re heading in for a bi-annual refresh on your summer highlights or looking for something completely fresh to go along with a new short haircut, we’ve got your inspiration ahead.

“Raw” Blonde

When asked about her favorite color trend of summer, colorist Alex Brownsell immediately mentioned her recent client, model Iris Law. “I love Iris Law’s bleached hair,” says Brownsell. “This blonde is ultra-pale, but not quite as cool-toned as pure platinum. I’d call [it] a ‘raw blonde’ as the bleach is left untoned, keeping the color super bright and fun for summer. “
Here’s how to ask for it: According to Brownsell, you want to ask your colorist to lift the hair with bleach, but skip the toner. “No toner — instead, Silver Conditioner was used to remove some of the yellow tones,” Brownsell explains of Law’s color. “The whole process takes about an hour to apply and then the bleach is left on for 45-60 minutes, depending on the depth of the natural hair. After this is all washed and shampooed, the silver conditioner stays on for five minutes, which helps neutralize any warmth but not overtone the hair.”
For maintenance, you’ll want to refresh your roots every six weeks, either at home with a bleach kit or (ideally) at the salon. Between touch-ups, you can alternate Bleach London Silver Conditioner with a bonding shampoo and conditioner to keep your color looking fresh and your strands healthy.

Midsummer Brunette

Richy Kandasamy, a colorist for R+Co, says that a shiny, dimensional brunette is designed for a natural summer growout. “The midsummer brunette is an amalgamation of rich deep brunette hues with light mid-summer reflects for dimension,” he explains. It’s a “natural” and “minimalist” color trend, as compared to your dramatic bleach blondes.
Here’s how to ask for it: You should bring photo references to your appointment. But beyond that, the word you want to use when describing this kind of color is “seamless.” As for what to expect with the appointment: “It will take an hour and a half to two hours,” Kandasamy explains. “The technique is a classic seamless highlight.”

Strawberry Red

When thinking of red color, the undertones are especially important, as that’s what differentiates strawberry (a gilded red-orange) from copper (a darker, true red). Moroccanoil’s Color Ambassador Matt Rez explains the exact tone to aim for right now as “a copper red base color with super-fine strawberry blonde babylights.” He explains, “Having the orange undertone to red hair color gives it the most natural result. I stay away from purple or blue tones when it comes to redheads.”
Here’s how to ask for it: Ask for highlights and midlights to be woven simultaneously, Rez explains (midlighting is a technique that blends the root color to the ends). “This is the only way to get the perfect natural results in most hair colors,” Rez says.
All colors fade with washes over time — but red in particularly is notorious for its quick fade. “To keep your color vibrant and shiny between salon visits, I suggest using Moroccanoil’s High Shine Gloss – Color Depositing Mask in Clear,” Rez says. “[It] gives the benefits of an at-home deep conditioning treatment with a professional-strength gloss service.”

“Oysterette” Gold

Kandasamy calls blonde with reflective gold undertones an “oysterette” shade, and he’s loving it for summer. “It’s a clean, rich blonde,” he explains, “not warm or cool, but balanced.” This example on model Kae, a client at Bleach London, shows an oysterette blonde with a warmer base that gives it the illusion of a “golden hour” glow.
Here’s how to ask for it: This is a single-process blonde that will require bleach and toning. However, the key is to bring reference photos of someone that looks to have a hair color and texture similar to yours. That way, your colorist will be better able to achieve the tone of blonde that has the reflective quality by going a touch warmer or cooler, depending on your base tone. For maintenance, Kandasamy recommends a purple shampoo and color-protective hair mask.

Caramel Glow

Maryann Hennings, a film and TV hairdresser who most recently worked as the lead stylist on Daisy Jones & The Six, tells us that well-placed highlights can make fine or thin hair appear fuller. If your base tone is brown, you’ll want to ask for a “dimensional” brunette. “Highlights give hair texture, which is great,” says Hennings. Colorist Justin Anderson agrees: “I love a color you can live in, and it still looks expensive weeks after the salon,” he says. “I’ve noticed a big trend with variations of chocolate and caramel hues to add a bit of depth in a very natural yet noticeable way.”
Here’s how to ask for it: You’re looking for a colorist who specializes in fine, hand-painted highlights — and your job is to come prepared with plenty of visuals. “The number one thing you should do is bring in lots of example photos to your colorist,” says Anderson. “This will better explain your vision so your colorists can bring it to life.” One of our favorite examples, shown above, comes from Carla Lorenz, a NYC-based colorist at Jenna Perry Hair Studio.

Natural Chocolate

A bit of an anti-color color trend, “natural chocolate” conveys a minimalist vibe and can help get previously color-treated hair back to a baseline tone. Here, NYC-based colorist Angela Soto shows her client, photographer Stephanie Mei-Ling, after receiving “natural chocolate” color and a keratin treatment. Soto’s technique is adding hand-painted highlights for sun-kissed dimension that reads as natural.
Here’s how to ask for it: How you approach this trend will depend on what state your hair is in currently. If your hair is already a shade of brown naturally, this might be as simple as a hair gloss. Colorist Rita Hazan says that the tone should be one shade lighter or darker than your natural base shade — she prefers darker for the added shine. On the other hand, if your hair is in need of a color correction, it might require a single process, a cut, and a bit of highlighting.

Earthy Blonde

We don’t often see a bleached tone described as “earthy.” However, this blonde shade on Moses Sumney feels grounded because there’s a bit of warmth that keeps the platinum tone from turning icy. It’s similar to the aforementioned oysterette gold, but more beige-yellow in tone.
Here’s how to ask for it: Ask for a shade of beige blonde that’s not over-lifted or too pale and incorporates a balance of golden and purple tones while keeping some of the natural warmth in your hair, recommends Cherise Wilson, a colorist at Marie Robinson Salon. The key word is “neutral,” so that you don’t lean too warm or too cool.

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