Balanced between medium to dark blonde and light brown, dirty blonde hair is surging in popularity. It’s become the ultimate shade for that trendy bronde color without the high maintenance needs of bright blonde.
See 15 examples of versatile dirty blonde hair color and tips on rocking this shade in a flattering way below!
What Is Dirty Blonde Hair?
- Also called dishwater blonde, tawny blonde, or bronde
- Flattering, versatile color with warm and cool tones
- Balanced medium to dark blonde and light brown tones
Since dirty blonde hair has been explosively popular lately, there’s a bit of confusion rising about what the color truly is and how it’s different from basic dark blonde or light brown.
So let’s get to the bottom of it and define dirty blonde color before we take a peek at some gorgeous examples!
Dirty blonde hair color is typically a level 7 or 8 blonde (medium to dark blonde) with a blend of warm golden and cool ash tones. This warm/cool balance makes it a pretty neutral blonde shade overall.
You might hear dirty blonde hair color referred to in a number of ways, including dishwater blonde, tawny blonde, blondette (blonde/brunette), bronde (blonde/brown), oaky blonde, and the less-specific dark blonde.
We’re glad there are other words for this color because “dirty blonde” and “dishwater blonde” really don’t do this shimmering blonde shade justice.
Why has dirty blonde popped off recently and landed in the spotlight? There are a few reasons this shade of blonde has become a favorite. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of dirty blonde hair color.
Dirty Blonde Hair Benefits
Why would someone choose a blended golden/ash blonde shade on the darker end of the blonde spectrum? We’re so glad you asked!
Here are just some of the benefits of going with a rich dirty blonde color. You’ve got a lot to look forward to!
1. Universally Flattering Color
Dirty blonde shades are neutral (not overly warm or cool), so they can work for all skin tones and undertones. You can tweak dirty blonde to skew slightly warmer or cooler if your undertone isn’t neutral!
Unlike icy platinum, super-cool ash blonde, warm golden blonde, or warm strawberry blonde, dirty blonde is a shade that can complement everyone.
2. Lower Maintenance Than Light Blonde
Going with dirty blonde hair color means you won’t have as many root touch-ups and toning sessions as you’d need with lighter blonde shades.
Since dirty blonde shades are usually level 7 or 8, they won’t create a stark contrast with darker roots growing in. That means you can put off maintenance a bit longer – every 8 weeks or so if you opt for off-root balayage, teasylights, or ombre color.
3. Great Transition Shade for Dark Hair
The many shades of neutral dirty blonde are all great options for transitioning to lighter locks from a darker hair color.
If you’re going blonde for the first time (or it’s just been a while), you’ll have an easier time lifting to level 7 or 8 than you would going all the way to level 9 or 10 light blonde!
4. Less Damaging for Hair
Since dirty blonde color hovers around a level 7 or 8, it doesn’t take as long to lift your hair to the desired level with bleach. You may be able to get away with using a less-damaging, lower developer volume (like 20 or 30) as well.
You also don’t have to bleach all-over to get this color. Highlights, balayage, teasylights, and ombre color all present great options that bleach only small sections of your hair for less damage overall.
5. Perfect for Low-Contrast Lightening
Unlike brighter, lighter blonde shades, dirty blonde doesn’t create as much contrast with darker hair colors. That’s ideal if you’re going for a subtle, sun-kissed, or natural look.
Balayage, ribbon balayage, and highlights make it possible to get the dirty blonde look without creating a stark contrast between it and your darker base color.
15 Examples of Dirty Blonde Hair
Dirty blonde is one of the most versatile, flattering shades of blonde out there. If it’s calling your name, you just need a little inspiration to pick the tone and shade you want!
Let’s check out some gorgeous examples of dirty blonde hair color in its many forms, tones, and shades.
1. Classic Dirty Blonde
Look closely and you’ll see hints of cool dark blonde, neutral medium blonde, and warm, light golden brown in this prismatic dirty blonde shade.
It’s a universally flattering shade that suits skin with warm, cool, or neutral undertones equally well.
2. Golden Strawberry Dirty Blonde
Shimmering undertones of gold and strawberry (light copper) make this dirty blonde ombre color a serious stunner. You’ll get the best of both worlds with both lighter and darker blondes rooted nicely with a cooler ash brown tone!
3. Subtly Sun-Kissed Dirty Blonde
You get the subtle warmth and brightness of sun-kissed highlights around the face in this dirty blonde hair example along with plenty of dark blonde for depth and shadow.
There are hints of warm copper undertones for a strawberry blonde look in the right lighting. The color takes on a really natural look.
4. Dimensional Dirty Bronde Balayage
Full of sparkling dimension and tones borrowed from the dark end of blonde and light end of brown color spectrums, this blended shade is gorgeous in a balayage.
This shade leans slightly warmer than classic dirty blonde, which is ideal for skin with warm (or neutral) undertones.
5. Deep Oaky Blonde
You can really see the warm golden and cool ash tones playing nicely together in this pretty take on dirty blonde hair.
The bottommost layers get a heavier dose of cool ash color while the top is infused with ribbons of warmer, honey-golden blonde for a neutral overall tone.
6. Dirty Blonde With Autumn Balayage
Neutral dirty blonde is more fitting for skin with warm undertones when you make it the base for an autumnal balayage color!
Strawberry blonde color weaves up from the ends through the midshaft to set off the cool and warm tones in neutral dirty blonde at the roots.
7. Rich Blondette Teasylights
A pretty balance between dark blonde and light brown color applied seamlessly off the roots is possible with “blondette” teasylights. Stylists gently tease the hair before highlighting with this low-contrast shade for a natural, lived-in look with warmer undertones.
8. Bronzed Dusky Blonde
This color looks very warm at first glance and subtle copper lowlights do skew it in the warm direction. But neutral, tarnished dirty blonde color is the overall tone that brings plenty of balanced light and dark tones to the look.
9. Neutral Tarnished Blonde
Darkened slightly like tarnished silver, this neutral dirty blonde hair color is brightened up with very pale golden tones that offset the silvery shade of ash blonde lurking underneath. It appears almost iridescent, flashing different undertones in varied lighting.
10. Golden Honey Ash Blonde
Richly toned with warm honey blonde and an undercurrent of cool ash, this blended shade of dirty blonde is a bit brighter than the classic color.
It skews slightly warm but within the neutral zone, making it a good choice for anyone with neutral or warm undertones in the skin.
11. Shimmering Dirty Blonde
Ribbons of dimensional color give this full-bodied dirty blonde hair color a shimmering, textured effect. We’re loving the way bendy waves accentuate the color! This shade is neutral and balanced with equal blonde and brown tones.
12. Muddled Bronde Ribbon Lights
Chunky ribbon highlights in a medium and dark blonde shade wind up through the hair to break up the light golden brown color with some brightness.
This muddled shade is expertly blended with enough brightness and depth to suit deeper skin tones well.
13. Cool Sandy Blonde
Vibrant cool, ash tones blend into this dark sandy blonde shade nicely to dirty it up a bit and blur the line between dark blonde and brown. It’s a rich, cool shade that is ideal on skin with cool or neutral undertones.
14. Blended Tawny Blonde
Tawny blonde is a gorgeous shade of dirty blonde with hints of warm copper and brown running through the color.
This warm-neutral shade pairs well with a light golden brown tone to create a dimensional dirty blonde hue with lowlights.
15. Darkest Neutral Blonde
If you really want to straddle the line between dark dirty blonde and light brown, opt for a tawny neutral shade around level 7. You’ll get a little more richness and depth with the same neutral tone as classic dirty blonde.
Things to Consider
What else should you know about dirty blonde before you run off to make this color your own? Take a look at the helpful hints and tips you should keep in mind.
- You might need to tone it regularly. Depending on the shade of dirty blonde you choose, you might need to stay on top of any brassiness that pops up over time as your hair’s natural undertones start peeping through. Purple shampoo makes it easy to tone at home when you wash with it 1-3 times per week.
- Tweak your dirty blonde to suit you. If your skin is warm, ask for a warmer dirty blonde with copper, golden, or bronze undertones in it to warm up this typically-neutral shade. If your skin is cool, an ashier or silvery dirty blonde will be perfect for you. Neutrals can rock classic dirty blonde beautifully!
- Take it easy on your strands. Even though dirty blonde hair color is less damaging than bright level 10 blondes, bleaching any part of your hair will result in some damage. Take it easy on your hair after the process, minimizing heat styling, using a heat protectant when you do, and using a weekly hair mask to repair damage.
- Bring photos to show your stylist. You can ask for dirty blonde hair, but your stylist may have different ideas about the tones and shades you want. That’s why it’s essential to bring not just one, but a few photos to show your stylist exactly the color you want.
If you keep up with toning in between salon visits, choose a shade that suits your skin, and avoid damaging heat to start repairing the damage from bleaching your hair, you’ll be off to a great start with dirty blonde hair.
Remember that toning regularly isn’t always necessary for the warmer shades of dirty blonde. These are shades that include any type of strong golden, red, or bronze-colored undertone.
So, Will Dirty Blonde Hair Suit You?
Dirty blonde hair pretty much suits everyone, especially if you tweak and customize the shade to include more or less of the usually-balanced warm and cool tones in the color.
Dirty, tawny, or dishwater blondes appear visually similar to very light brown or medium to dark blonde.
So if you’d feel comfortable rocking a light golden brown or a light ash brown, you’ll almost certainly dig the way the dirty blonde color looks on you.
You might absolutely love the color and continue wearing it for months or years to come! On the other hand, you might find that the neutral tones just aren’t ideal on your skin.
Either way, it’s worth giving dirty blonde a try.
You can go lighter, darker, or in a completely new direction altogether once the fun is over without worrying about busting a dark, heavy color off your strands first. We call that a win!