Trophy blonde is the expensive-looking hair colour trend for lavish locks.
Ultra-glamorous and impeccably maintained, the trophy blonde winter hair trend is about creating the illusion that you’ve literally just stepped out of the salon at all times. When, in reality, most of us feel like we deserve an award for making it to the hairdressers more than once a year. The name could be seen as a bit problematic, as it can be argued that it eludes to the outdated notion of a trophy wife, but it’s the hair that’s the status symbol here.
“It’s a spotlight blonde that isn’t afraid to shine,” says Harriet Muldoon, colourist and blonde specialist at Larry King. Rather than appearing naturally sun-kissed or lived in, this is an attention-grabbing, perfectly polished blonde that looks like it required a lot of salon hours, and potentially a good chunk of your hard-earned cash, to achieve. In short, roots are not welcome here.
If you’re thinking about giving trophy blonde a whirl for yourself, we’ve asked two leading colourists for their advice on everything from what to expect in salon to how difficult it is to transition from brunette to this high-octane blonde.
Trophy blonde: Everything you need to know for expensive-looking colour
What is trophy blonde?
Trophy blonde hair is made up of “all over warm, buttery and strawberry tones,” explains Katie Hale, a sought-after freelance stylist specialising in blondes. It’s a significant shift from the cooler shades that have been considered the blonde du jour in recent seasons. With trophy blonde, these warm and brassier tones are welcomed, rather than being seen as something to banish when toning blonde hair. “It’s all about embracing the hair’s natural, warmer undertones when in previous years we’ve been diminishing them,” continues Katie. “We’ve always seen warm as being brassy and have toned hair to create more of an ashier, icy blonde, but now it’s cool to be warm.” Best pop that purple shampoo on ice then.
Which techniques are used to create trophy blonde in-salon?
There are a few routes into trophy blonde – none of which involve marrying well. “You can achieve trophy blonde through an old-school set of highlights from root to tip,” advises Hale. “I’d work with strawberry golden blonde, creamy butterscotch and honey blonde in my colour palette. You could also use an all-over blonde tint to achieve this look, but your hair must be naturally light for this to work.”
Muldoon’s approach is slightly different, focusing on “showcasing the gold with a blend that starts from a bronze base and finishes in a shimmering end. Trophy blonde can be achieved with balayage or highlights, and I love using the Redken Shades EQ Gold Collection and copper blondes to create this look,” she says.
Who does trophy blonde suit?
You don’t need to come from old money to suit a trophy blonde – but you do need to take your natural colouring into account. “The fact that trophy blonde is about complementing and working with the hair’s natural warmth means it’s achievable for most hair types,” says Hale. “Anyone can be a trophy blonde in their own way, but tailoring it to a client's specific skin tone and hair texture is the key to nailing the look. Those with darker hair and skin tones should opt for butterscotch and caramel hues, while those with lighter skin and hair tones should choose champagne and strawberry hues.”
Colouring aside, it’s a look that works on most lengths, from short hairstyles to long hairstyles. It can be adapted to all hair lengths and textures,” says Hale. “Typically though, you’ll see this on mid-length hair with a 90s blowout.”
How tricky is the transition from brunette to trophy blonde?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and unfortunately for the impatient, it’s impossible to transition from brunette to trophy blonde in one appointment unless you’re willing to seriously compromise the health of your hair. “I would always recommend a balayage for the first session to lift up the mid-lengths and ends, and then I’d work my way up with the colour at every appointment after that,” advises Muldoon. “Depending on your hair’s history and how light you wanted to go, it could take up to three appointments,” adds Hale. “Remember too that the contrast between a dark root and lighter hair means more maintenance.” If you’re not willing to commit to root appointments every two to four weeks (depending on how fast your grow grows), it might be that trophy blonde isn’t for you. Consider something more manageable, and less purse-draining, like cool-toned mushroom brown, rich and indulgent chocolate balayage or bronde hair, which is a best-of-both blend of blonde and brunette.
Does trophy blonde need a lot of maintenance?
As you’d probably expect from the name, trophy blonde requires a fair amount of upkeep to keep it at its golden best. “Trophy blonde is all about keeping an all-over clean finish,” explains Hale. Think of it as ‘old money blonde’ – you wouldn’t be seen dead with roots. Even if the root colour has been put in artificially with tint, you still need to keep topping it up.” Giveaway roots aside, it’s also important to maintain those warm tones in the hair. “I would always recommend clients coming in for a gloss between full colour appointments to keep the gold bright,” adds Muldoon.
At home, make sure you’re using colour-protect products like the best shampoo for coloured hair to shield your shade from fading. You’ll also want to commit to weekly hair masks (the Chris Appleton + Color Wow Money Mask feels very apt) to nourish the hair post-bleach and keep it soft and swishy.
John Frieda Pro Colour Revive Protecting Shampoo
Formulated to maintain your hair colour for longer between salon visits, this shampoo gently cleanses hair without stripping away pigment.
Monday Colour Protect Conditioner
One of the best launches in recent years, Monday are making quality haircare affordable. This conditioner is an absolute bargain for a big bottle and leaves hair super shiny.
Wella Colour Fresh Mask in Golden Gloss
If you can't make it to the hairdressers for a proper toner, this is the next best thing. It'll revive the warm tones of your trophy blonde in as little as 10 minutes.
Chris Appleton + Color Wow Money Masque
One of the most impressive hair masks we've tried, the gel-like texture allows it to deliver intense hydration without weighing hair down.
10 trophy blondes to inspire your next appointment
1. Pamela Anderson
Baywatch babe Pamela is the perfect example of an all-over golden trophy blonde. Lighter pieces through the lengths catch the light and add dimension.
As a Grammy Award winner, Beyonce is perfectly primed for the trophy blonde trend. The caramel hue suits her perfectly.
3. Alicia Silverstone
Ask most stylists about trophy blonde and they’ll probably cite Alicia Silverstone’s Clueless character Cher Horowitz as a key source of inspiration. Tartan skirt suit optional.
4. Cameron Diaz
There’s not even a smidge of root in sight in actress Cameron Diaz’s trophy blonde locks. The tousled waves make this premium colour feel more relaxed.
5. Blake Lively
Blonde hair naturally reflects less light than brunette, meaning it can be harder for it to look shiny. Thanks to a blend of tones, Blake Lively’s trophy blonde is glossy and shimmering.
6. Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet’s trophy blonde is the epitome of expensive-looking. The warmer hue complements her pale complexion beautifully.
7. Goldie Hawn
A trophy blonde icon in her own right, no one does blonde (or volume) quite like Goldie Hawn. Top marks for the layered cut and curtain bangs too.
8. Reese Witherspoon
Ok, so we said that technically roots are a no-go with trophy blonde, but Reese Witherspoon’s are so minimal that we’ll let her off. One to copy if you can’t commit to regular root touch-ups.
9. Carey Mulligan
We don’t know if it’s the hair, the gold sequin dress or her dewy complexion but Carey Mulligan is positively glowing. Proof that porcelain complexions aren’t limited to cooler blonde shades.
10. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
There you have it, an expert-approved guide to the biggest blonde trend for the coming season. Will you be trying trophy blonde hair out for size this winter or sticking with cooler tones?