30 Dirty Blonde Hair Ideas For Every Skin Tone

If you're a brunette looking to lighten up, or a blonde looking to add dimension, dirty blonde could be the hue for you. "It's not a bright, white, clean blonde. It's a darker blonde with a bit of a root," describes pro hairstylist Luke Hersheson in Glamour UK. "It's a bit more rock 'n' roll." 

To create a dirty-blonde shade (you might have also heard it called dishwater blonde), you can start with either a darker base, or a lighter base — basically, whatever color your hair is currently. Add in highlights or lowlights (or both), work in an ombre or reverse ombre, or have balayage streaks painted in to create your perfect color combination. 

As a bonus, dirty-blonde hair has the benefit of less time at the salon. "Whenever you've got something more lived in and grown out, you won't need to do your roots as much," explains Hersheson. "You can get away with doing it just twice a year." A second bonus? There are so many variations of dirty blonde to consider, it's impossible not to find one that works with your skin tone, hair texture, hair length, and heart's desire.

Champagne kisses

What could be more lux than champagne and caviar? A long bob (or lob) is heavily highlighted with pale blonde over darker roots. While the lighter shade is concentrated on the ends and around the face, a few thin streaks of blonde lead right up to the roots, adding a little dimension to the overall look. There are also a few slightly darker blonde shades woven in, which not only temper the champagne blonde, but make it pop even more. 

Spiralled amber

What do you get when you combine corkscrew curls with amber? A natural-looking phenom that brings new ideas to the definition of dirty blonde. With dark-brown roots, spirals are lightened to the muted shade of golden blonde, keeping the lighter hue fairly solid most of the way through. Near the top of the crown, starting just above the eyebrows, the amber color tapers off with lightly woven highlights through the brunette base, allowing for a perfect gradient finish without any seams. 

The money piece

If you like to stay on top of hair trends, then you already know about the money piece hair style, aka bold, face-framing highlights. You can do the look with a dirty-blonde bent, too! Long, dark-chocolate tresses are given a boost of color with warm shots of milk chocolate randomly painted on throughout the bottom half, starting just around the shoulders. In front, a bold stripe of wheat blonde starts above the brows, then filters all the way down through the layers in a thick swatch. 

Sandy beaches

What goes better with beachy waves than sandy hair? "If you're particularly proud of your tan or have naturally olive skin, sandy is the right pick," shares Hair.com. A raven-dark mane is given a blonde boost with various tones of blonde woven throughout. Lighter shades are concentrated around the front, with the palest reserved for face-framing illumination. By leaving the roots their original color and using sandy shades of blondes, the transition from dark to dirty blonde is less shocking and more stunning.

Smudged blonde

When it's light in all kinds of ways, we're calling it a smudged-blonde look — because it has just a hint of the dirty in it. Natural blonde tresses in childhood can often darken as you get older, creating their own version of a dirty blonde, but not necessarily one you want to keep. Adding in vanilla and pale blonde highlights can bring new life to the look, while still keeping your locks firmly in dirty-blonde territory.

Yummy caramel

You know that deliciousness that happens when you bite into a dark-chocolate caramel candy? That's this version of dirty blonde, with all the yummy happening via the same inspired hues. Long, brunette locks go from dark chocolate to dirty blonde with the addition of caramel-blonde highlights. The lighter color is concentrated in the front, particularly around the face, but can be seen in painted-on streaks throughout. There's also a darker caramel hue woven in to help the transition from dark to light.

Golden aura

Don't ever let them stop you from going for the gold. Mixing a very dark brunette with an antique-gold hue brings your mane firmly into the winning zone. Thick ribbons of pale blonde are positioned to surround the face with light, and the same color is genty woven through the lengths. Other blonde shades in darker, deeper tones of gold are intertwined with the dark base to create a rich finish. A dirty blonde worth its weight in gold.   

Smoke show

Become your own smoke show with a dirty-blonde finish! A dark-blonde shade is woven through natural spirals. When some of the curls are twisted into silky locs, the effect is mesmerizing, with the raven-rich natural hue taking center stage and slivers of blonde peeking through. On their own, the smoky-blonde spirals add an extra dimension of color throughout. "Deeper skin tones work best with a deeper base color, especially around the face," master colorist Chelsea shared with Reader's Digest

Ash-gold accents

Having super-dark hair doesn't prevent you from doing the dirty-blonde deed. As is traditional in most dirty-blonde looks, the lighter shade is concentrated around the face — in this case, an ash blonde with a gold lean, combined with paler, white-blonde streaks. The highlights continue throughout the rest of the hair, primarily focused on the top layer, leaving more of hair's naturally dark hue underneath for contrast. Around the top of the crown, the blonde gets a bit thinner, allowing for a rooted finish.

Fabulously frosted

Even the darkest of tresses can become dirty blonde with the right color and the right technique. In this case, an ebony hue is frosted with a creamy vanilla blonde that borders on muted silver. Leaving only a small section of a dark-rooted base, thin and medium-thin strands are separated from the mane and iced with blonde along almost the entire length. When locks are tousled together, the effect is a dirty-blonde look with positively stunning vibes.  

Pearl essence

Somewhere between off-white, cream, and vanilla is a mane color that manages to embrace the qualities of all three shades: pearl. Like its namesake gem, this hue has the ability to be both unique and beautiful, with a flawless finish. When combined with warm tones of creamy blonde, beige lowlights, and a hint of silver, the result has an almost luminescent effect. It's not all the way blonde, but it's not not-blonde either. And there's the beauty of dirty blonde. 

Buttery best

Got a lot of hair? Then it stands to reason you'll want more than one color! This dirty-blonde look focuses heavily on the blonde, and works especially well for anyone who was blonde as a kid, but lost some of their light shade after growing up. Leaving a light brunette hue visible at the roots and around the crown, lengths are heavily highlighted in tones of medium and light blonde. The overall finish is a butter blonde. "This pale, warm shade is beautiful on complexions with subtle golden undertones," notes hair care company Matrix

Dirty blush

We're not blushing — you're blushing. Or you could be, if you use a bit of pink to help dirty up your mane. Bright blonde is tempered by raspberry hues that start below the chin and ribbon through the bottom half of icy-blonde lengths. You'll also notice a few bronze tones here and there, which add even more depth to the overall look. An even darker hue is found at the crown, a bit of natural color peeking through; this allows the grow-out to be a much kinder process.

Milk chocolate

If you'd rather have more dirt than blonde, you can do that, too! It's all about your personal style, and dirty blonde is definitely customizable. When you lighten up a brunette base with tones of blonde, you get a result worthy of a gourmet Hershey bar: milk chocolate. Dark blonde, almost bronze, highlights are entwined with darker locks up front, as well as subtly woven through around the crown. On the ends, even more light tones are infused into the hair, but not so much as to cover up the natural brunette hue.

Blended beauty

While dramatic ombres and bold highlights are a trademark of some dirty-blonde looks, they aren't the only option. If you already have lighter locks, you can absolutely do a more blended blonde. Starting with a flaxen hue, thin strands of palest blonde are added as a bright highlight throughout. Next comes tones of gold, followed by a bit of light beige. The ribbons of color are kept thinner, as opposed to thick or chunky, so when tousled together, the look is a more blended finish.

Vanilla and bronze and amber and gold

For those who have gorgeous golden or tan complexions, the name of the dirty-blonde game for you is multiple, as in many tones of blonde. "Using different shades will add dimension and volume," explains Deycke Heidorn in Reader's Digest. "Leaving your roots natural, the warmer shades in your lengths will create a gorgeous frame for your face." Warmer hues like bronze, amber, and gold go together beautifully on the same head of hair, with just a touch of vanilla.

Sesame wheat

Open your mind and say, "open sesame," to a dirty blonde firmly planted in the edible category — as in, eat up this fabulous color feast with your eyes. Rooted in a brunette base (with the actual roots to prove it), tresses are turned into an overall dark-blonde hue via heavy highlights in both a flaxen tone and a wheat shade. To brighten things up and add another dimension, a few pale-gold highlights are intertwined, as well.

Apricot butterscotch

There's a reason so many hair colors are described with dessert references — they look absolutely delicious! Butterscotch blonde is delectable all on its own, but when tempered with an apricot hue, it's mouth-watering. A hint of naturally dark hair can be seen at the roots, typical of most dirty-blonde creations. The deep, darker blonde (that's the butterscotch!) is solid around the crown, then gets an infusion of apricot around the front and positioned through the lengths. It's a warm blonde perfect for a warm skin tone.

Tawny tones

This combination of mane shades if probably what you think of the most when you think dirty blonde. The base color is a medium brunette, and is lightened overall with a heavily highlighted sandy hue. Added to that is creamy blonde several shades brighter, mostly infused in around the face, but with a few strategic streaks woven throughout. The original darker hue is mostly noticeable on the underneath layers of hair; when you tousle your locks, it all blends together beautifully.

Light bronze

Bronze is third place in the Olympics, but in the world of hair color, it's got a first-place prize, especially when you're talking about dirty blonde. The color itself is a "dirty" shade, meaning it's firmly in the blonde category, but has a burnished finish that lends an extra richness, especially when paired with a raven-dark base. By focusing the color around the front, it gives the illusion that most of the hair is blonde, but without having to spend hours in the salon chair lightening every strand of hair on your head.

Sunny delight

Summer blondes are the best, even if it's not actually summer. That sun-kissed shade you sported as a kid has probably grown into a darker blonde, but if you want to recapture it as a grown-up, this dirty-blonde version is mane-inspo personified. Adding buttery highlights blended with a touch of platinum blonde (used sparingly, in thin, face-framing ribbons) will take you firmly into the dog days of summer and well beyond. And that darker blonde underneath it all? It's what makes the color look so luxe. 


When you want to go blonde, but you don't want to go all the way blonde, you need an in-between solution. Enter dirty blonde, which can be as dirty as you desire. Sable locks still grab tons of attention in their natural state, but get a boost of bright with warm-blonde shades of butter and honey. Just as if you tipped your head back to soak up the sun, the placement of the bolder blonde shades mimics where the rays would have hit, creating more lightness in front. 

Icy ideal

Fair complexions with a warm undertone can handle just about any of the super-light, delicate shades of blonde, including an icy-white. What makes this look dirty blonde is all in the roots, and the lowlights that appear just underneath the mane's top layers. The born-with-it, black shade is clearly visible at the roots, but gently glides into the blonde with highlights that turn into an all-over hue. Painting a few darker locks in a caramel-blonde hue helps add back in dimension.

Magic mushroom

Not only do mushrooms taste delicious on pizza, but they can also serve as inspiration for your next mane color. Composed of contrasting shades of both dark and light, you can mimic the combo with a brunette base and beige-blonde lengths. The gradient application of darker golden blonde begins with thin ribbons of color that turn into fat and chunky highlights through the length. A lighter, pearl-blonde hue ups the brightness further, particularly when concentrated around the face. 

Honey-wheat ombre

The ombre coloring technique works especially well if you want dirty-blonde hair that isn't totally two-toned. An ombre starts with one solid color, then gradually blends into another color. In this case, a natural sable-brown crown transitions seamlessly into bright-blonde ends, starting right around the cheekbones. It's the varying blonde tones that help the move from brunette to blonde; you'll find shades of dark gold, honey, wheat, vanilla, and even white-blonde woven into the hair.  

Vanilla and honey

Craving something sweet? How about a vanilla and honey confection that goes against everything you thought you knew about dirty blonde? Proving the look can be soft and subtle, but still a little bit bold and a whole lot beautiful, this look follows the traditional path of brunette-gone-blonde, adding in a finessed gradient. Yes, the dark roots are still there (making grow-out a bit less painful), but they're immediately tempered with a dark honey hue woven in the finest highlights. Those turn into thicker, lighter honey highlights, while big vanilla ribbons add sparks of light everywhere.

Not-boring beige

Beige is a conservative color choice when it comes to fashion, but in the world of hair colors, it has a whole new meaning. Beige blonde is not only stunning, it's a staple in creating a lot of dirty-blonde finishes as it shares a unique quality with its fashion counterpart: it goes great with almost everything. The medium-blonde hue is easier to achieve on a brunette base than platinum hues, but still offers the same light quality. It also pairs well with both darker and lighter blonde tones.

Sweet honey

Add a little honey to sweeten your mane deal! Dark natural curls are frosted in tones of golden blonde the color of liquid honey, adding a whole new dimension to the Natural. If you're considering adding a lighter shade to your dark locks for a dirty-blonde finish, be sure to wear your hair for the coloring appointment how you intend to wear it going forward. Your colorist can paint on the brighter tones to accentuate your natural texture, be it curly or straight.

Ash light

Dirty blonde never looked so clean! A straight-edged bob is boldly blonde along the perimeter, with blended darker roots that give it a dimension it wouldn't otherwise have. The ash-blonde hue is heavily painted on naturally brunette lengths, with some strands left untouched, and others painted with darker blonde tones. The whole look is perfect for a fair complexion. "Those with light skin generally fall in the 'cool' category and can wear more ashy toned blondes and browns," colorist Giselle explained to Reader's Digest. 

Mocha gold

Love your lattes? Crave a cappucino? Make it mocha? How about drinking in this dirty-blonde confection instead, which brings on delicious ideas of dark coffee and creamy foam. Natural medium-brown locks are gorgeous as is, but nothing screams makeover like a burst of blonde. Starting about halfway down the length, pale golden streaks are painted on in thin swashes that get thicker at the ends. Of course, it wouldn't be a dirty-blonde finish without those face-framing curtains of the lightest blonde.