What color is dirty blonde hair?

Dirty blonde hair is a blonde hair color that has subtle darker tones mixed in with lighter blonde shades. It’s not as light as platinum or towheaded blonde, but not as dark as light brown hair. Dirty blonde hair is often described as having an ashy, sandy, or golden tone to it.

What are the different shades of dirty blonde hair?

There is a wide range of shades that fall under the category of dirty blonde hair. Here are some of the most common dirty blonde shades:

  • Beige blonde – A warm, sandy blonde with strong golden undertones.
  • Ash blonde – A cooler toned blonde with more ashy, grayish tones mixed in.
  • Honey blonde – A blend of darker blonde and light brown shades that creates a warm, golden blonde.
  • Strawberry blonde – A mix of blonde and red tones that leads to a darker blonde color with red hues.
  • Golden blonde – A bright, vibrant blonde with strong brassy, yellow tones throughout.
  • Dishwater blonde – A dull, mousy blonde shade that often has grayish undertones.

The exact shade can vary quite a bit from person to person. It depends on your natural hair color and how much lighter color is introduced through highlighting or bleaching when going blonde. The terms dirty blonde, sandy blonde, and golden blonde are often used interchangeably.

What makes blonde hair turn “dirty”?

There are a few different reasons why blonde hair can start to turn into a dirtier, muddier blonde shade:

  • Natural hair pigmentation – Some people naturally have a blend of different color pigments in their hair that leads to a dirtier blonde appearance. Very few people are born with a pure, platinum blonde hair color.
  • Hair products and styling – Things like shampoos with warm, brassy tones, as well as heat styling, can cause blonde hair to become more golden and develop dirty looking undertones over time.
  • Sun exposure – The sun’s UV rays will cause blonde hair to darken and become brassy, especially in the summer. The sun can turn pure blonde hair into a dishwater dirty blonde shade.
  • Chlorine – Swimming in pools frequently can interact with hair proteins and cause greenish, dingy tones to show up in blonde hair.
  • Hard water – Mineral deposits from hard water will build up in blonde hair and make it look less vibrant and more dull over time.

To keep blonde hair looking shiny and prevent discoloration, be sure to use a purple toning shampoo and deep condition regularly. Reduce heat styling, swim with a cap, and install shower filters to prevent brassiness.

How can you get the perfect dirty blonde hair color?

Here are some tips for achieving beautiful dirty blonde hair:

  • Get inspiration from celebrity dirty blondes like Blake Lively, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jessica Alba who rock various stunning dirty blonde shades.
  • Bring photos to your colorist so you’re both on the same page about the exact color you want.
  • Ask for a full highlight with face-framing baby lights around the hairline to add dimension.
  • Use a toner or glaze to cancel out brassiness and get an ashy, cool-toned dirty blonde.
  • Add lowlights or balayage for extra depth and to blend with your natural roots.
  • Use purple shampoo 1-2 times a week to neutralize yellow tones and prevent brassiness.
  • Touch up your roots every 4-6 weeks to keep your dirty blonde hair fresh and bright.

It may take some trial and error with your colorist to find your perfect level and tone of dirty blonde. But the effort is worth it for beautiful, sun-kissed hair you’ll love.

How do you maintain dirty blonde hair color?

Here are some tips for keeping dirty blonde hair looking fresh between salon visits:

  • Use a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner made for color-treated hair.
  • Wash with cool water instead of hot to preserve your blonde shade.
  • Limit washing to 2-3 times a week max to prevent fading.
  • Apply a deep conditioner or hair mask 1-2 times a week.
  • Use leave-in conditioners and heat protectants before heat styling.
  • Protect hair from sun exposure by wearing hats or using UV protection sprays.
  • Get a toner or glaze treatment every 4-6 weeks to keep brassiness at bay.
  • Use at-home root touch up kits between salon visits.
  • Get a trim every 6-8 weeks to keep ends looking healthy.

Being cautious about washing, heat styling and sun exposure will help preserve that perfect dirty blonde tone in between coloring appointments.

What hair color goes well with dirty blonde?

Dirty blonde hair provides a beautiful neutral base that can be paired with a variety of flattering colors:

  • Copper and auburn: Warm red tones like copper and auburn look beautiful with dirty blonde’s golden hues.
  • Caramel and honey: Mixing in buttery caramel and honey brown lowlights adds dimension while complementing dirty blonde’s warmth.
  • Strawberry and red: Pops of strawberry blonde or vibrant red around the face enlivens dirty blonde hair.
  • Golden and beige: Matching dirty blonde’s undertones with golden and beige balayage looks natural and pretty.
  • Chocolate and chestnut: Cooler brown shades like chocolate and chestnut brown contrast nicely with the warmer dirty blonde.

When thinking of adding colors to dirty blonde hair, stay within 2-3 shades lighter or darker to look cohesive. Going too drastically lighter or darker can look unnatural.

Should you tone natural dirty blonde hair?

Whether or not to tone natural dirty blonde hair depends on your hair’s current state:

  • If your dirty blonde is looking a bit brassy or yellow, use a purple toning treatment to neutralize those warm tones.
  • If your hair is feeling dull or fried, use a conditioning glaze to add shine and softness back.
  • If you want to go ashier or cooler-toned, use a blue-violet toner all over.
  • If you want to enhance warmth, use a golden toner to accentuate those tones.
  • If you’re happy with your natural shade, no toning is needed!

Always do a strand test first when toning to make sure you like the color result before applying all over. Less is more when it comes to toning natural hair. Monitor the development time so you don’t overdo it.

What colors complement dirty blonde hair?

Certain clothing and makeup colors will look extra beautiful paired with dirty blonde hair. Cooler colors will emphasize the ashiness in dirty blonde locks, while warmer colors enhance golden highlights. Great colors to try include:

  • Purples: Lavender, lilac, orchid
  • Blues: Royal blue, cobalt, teal
  • Greens: Emerald, forest, sage
  • Pinks: Magenta, fuchsia
  • Neutrals: Ivory, taupe, gray
  • Golds: Mustard, rust, bronze
  • Reds: Ruby, terracotta, wine

In terms of makeup, opt for browns, coppers and pinks for eyeshadow. Blush in peachy or rose shades complements dirty blonde locks beautifully. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colorful looks – dirty blonde hair works with both cool and warm palettes.

Dirty Blonde Shade Best Complementary Colors
Beige blonde Warm tones like peach, coral, mint, sage
Ash blonde Cooler tones like pastel blue, pink, lavender
Golden blonde Yellow, olive green, rusty orange
Dishwater blonde Navy blue, eggplant purple, ruby red

When determining what colors look best with your dirty blonde locks, consider whether your hair leans warm or cool in tone and go from there. Complementary colors will make your hair color pop.

How do you dye your hair from blonde to dirty blonde?

If you want to go from regular blonde to a more dirty blonde look, here are some tips:

  • Ask your stylist for an all-over single process color using a level 7-8 warm beige or sand blonde shade.
  • For subtle highlights, get fine baby lights in darker blonde woven throughout. Avoid chunky highlights.
  • Add lowlights using a level 5-6 neutral or ash brown shade to create dimension.
  • Finish with a toner in a beige or golden hue to tie the new color together.
  • Use a demi-permanent color for less drastic results. Permanent color will create a bigger shift.
  • Transition gradually over a couple appointments to prevent damage from overprocessing.

Going gradually lighter while incorporating lowlights and toners is key to creating that perfect, sophisticated dirty blonde look. Avoid anything too brassy or high-contrast.

What is the easiest way to get dirty blonde hair?

Here are some easy ways to get low-maintenance dirty blonde hair:

  • Use Sun-In or lemon juice to naturally and temporarily lighten all over.
  • Get lemon or honey-colored balayage highlights placed throughout the mid-lengths and ends.
  • Use a blonde shade close to your natural and add babylights for delicate brightness.
  • Dye just your top layers a lighter blonde to mimic the look of sun-kissed hair.
  • Apply blonde root smudge powder or spray to blend your roots as they grow out.
  • Use a blonde gloss or glaze over finished color for extra conditioning and shine.

The simplest way is to work with the base color you already have. Just a slight lightening of 2 shades coupled with strategic highlights and lowlights can give you that perfect dirty blonde effect easily.

Is dirty blonde hair warm or cool toned?

Dirty blonde hair can lean either warm or cool in tone depending on your natural pigmentation and how it’s colored:

  • Beige, golden and strawberry dirty blonde shades are warm with yellow, peach, and red undertones.
  • Ash and dishwater dirty blonde shades are cooler with blue, green, and purple undertones.
  • Neutral medium and sandy dirty blonde shades could go either way depending on your skin.
  • Add violet toner to cool down warm dirty blondes. Add gold toner to warm up ashier dirty blondes.
  • Look at your eyes and skin – do gold or silver jewelry look best on you? That gives you a clue if you’re warm or cool.

The most universally flattering dirty blonde shades have a nice balance of warmth and coolness to complement a wide range of skin tones. Talk to your colorist about customizing the toner and technique for your coloring.


Dirty blonde hair is the perfect in-between shade for anyone looking to gradually go lighter while maintaining a sophisticated, low-maintenance look. Pay attention to your skin tone and undertones when deciding on the ideal dirty blonde hue for you. Keep brassiness at bay with purple shampoo and deep conditioning. Refresh your color every 4-6 weeks and enhance it with strategically placed highlights and lowlights. When cared for properly, dirty blonde hair is a gorgeous option for those with blonde hair goals.

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