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Why You Should Think Twice Before Lightening Your Hair This Summer

Switching up your mane seasonally seems like the customary thing to do. The sweet smell of summer usually ushers in lighter locks and balayage ends, while fall and winter call for rich, deeper hues. But why? Besides the obvious fact that more time in the sun means sun-kissed strands, could it actually be more beneficial to flip the switch on lightening and darkening your mane according to the temperature? We tapped Rachel Bodt, Master Colorist from The Red Door salon who colors stars like Michelle Williams, Kate Moss, and Karlie Kloss, to break down this age-old hair color rule. Discover why you should think twice before lightening your hair this summer below!

Blonde person lightening their hair in the sun at the beach | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Unsplash / Caspar Camille Rubin)

Why Do Most People Stick to Lightening Their Hair in the Summer?

I think it was an old rule that people just assumed always worked, like your wardrobe, you put away the white pants after Labor Day. But it’s not that way anymore, people wear their hair whatever color they want all year round. It’s all about balancing out what is going on with our skin tone. For my clients who lose their tan and feel extra fair in the winter, making them darker in the colder months can make them look (and feel) even more washed out and bland. Adding a little lightness is sometimes that extra sparkle that makes them look more balanced and not so washed out.

For my super blonde clients, I add some depth in the summer so it has dimension and grows out nicer. Most people want to enjoy their summer and spend less time in the salon, so subtle low lights or soft root shadows break up the color grow-out gracefully. In the warmer months, hair tends to grow faster so it helps with the line of demarcation.

What Types of Hair Would Benefit From Going Dark in the Summer?

For my blonde clients, it means just shadowing their roots a little darker and keeping the ends still bright so the grow-out is more graceful and they can go all summer without having to come in so frequently. In the winter, it’s no surprise that we get the winter blues and feel drab, so why go darker when you have lost your tan and already feel blah? For a lot of my brunette clients, I’ll paint the ends even to a soft peanut butter color just to give it life and sparkle to balance the skin. Because most people aren’t in the sun during the winter they won’t have to worry about it turning brassy.

Is There a Technique You Use to Do This?

For making people slightly darker in the summer, I love doing a root shadow—something still soft and shear but adds depth. Going lighter in the winter, I love hair painting or balayage just to add that sparkle or punch more in the midshaft and ends so it falls right by the cheekbone down. 

For my blondes, I incorporate their natural color by spacing the highlights out while keeping the face frame bright.

How Dark and How Light Are We Talking?

It all depends on the person. I never do anything super drastic to where it’s hard for them to go back when the season changes again. For the blondes, nothing darker than their natural, and for the brunettes going lighter, I start with two to three levels lighter than the base to start.

What Are the Benefits of Doing This?

It mainly helps to balance what is going on with your skin. Going too light in the summer can be tricky, with salt, sun, sweat, and heat. It all takes a toll on your color and can make the hair super dry and damaged. Lightening your hair in the winter helps the hair to look alive and bright and depth in the summer helps it not look washed out. 

And while we’re talking about summer, HERE’S how to protect your hair color from the sun this summer

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