’90s Blonde Hair Is Summer's Brightest Color Trend
PamCore reigns supreme.
Copper red hair may have been the breakout beauty trend this spring, but this summer is all about bright ’90s blonde, aka the show-stopping shade famously sported by Pamela Anderson.
According to Jaclyn Curti, senior colorist and extension specialist Eva Scrivo Salon, hair trends tend to follow what’s happening in the fashion world — so, considering the influx of ’90s-era fashion, it makes sense that today’s top hair looks are reflecting that same time period. Plus, earlier this year, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy series prompted #PamCore style to trend on TikTok, subsequently sparking interest in Anderson’s impossible-to-miss hair hue. “It’s a bolder, brighter look — emphasis on the bright,” Curti says of the color, pointing to Gwen Stefani, Claudia Schiffer, and Gwyneth Paltrow as other examples of quintessential bright blondes of the era. Another prime example? None other than Baby Spice and her sparkling hue.
In the present day, however, Alex Brownsell, co-founder and creative director of BLEACH London, believes that the warm and buttery hue has been re-popularized by Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney. A handful of other stars have also recently debuted a light blonde hair change, too, including Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, and FKA Twigs, to name a few. Brownswell’s take on the hair color’s resurgence? “I think there’s something about the warmer seasons that makes us reach for the blonde,” she tells Bustle. But ’90s blonde in particular is a classic, she says. “It’s the ultimate bleached blonde — not a warm honey, but it's not a cool ash blonde either. In other words: It’s the best of both blonde worlds.
Want to give the show-stopping PamCore shade a try? Read on for everything you need to know about dyeing your hair ’90s blonde, plus how to maintain the trending tint.
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What Is ’90s Blonde Hair?
According to Rachel Bodt, celebrity hair colorist and Matrix brand ambassador, ’90s blonde hair can be defined as a bold, golden blonde that’s very “buttery.” “It has a more youthful vibe; almost less overly bleached,” she explains, adding that it’s more vivid and bright than its ashy-toned cousins. “Ash tones tend to read slightly darker, but these soft golden tones come off lighter and tend to make the hair look shinier,” says Bodt.
Lorena M. Valdes, a color specialist at Maxine Salon, also points to the shade’s “buttery” quality — specifically, she dubs it a soft, light butter take on blonde. More of a visual learner? Valdes cites Billie Eilish’s most recent blonde and Doja Cat’s color at the Grammys as more recent examples of the look.
What To Know Before Going Blonde
First, decide if you really want to go full Pamela Anderson blonde, because you don’t have to (it requires diligent upkeep, after all). “Solid blonde is one of the more harsh hair services,” says Curti. Instead, she suggests achieving the look with highlights or pops of color for a more low-maintenance version. “You can do piece-y blonde streaks with a significant ‘money piece’ in front for a chunky ’90s blonde look,” Curti tells Bustle, pointing to Jennifer Aniston circa early seasons of Friends and Ginger Spice as the epitome of more subtle takes on the color.
Whichever route you take, there will be some upkeep you’ll have to stay on top of. “Expect a lot of maintenance to continue to do this color without compromising the integrity of your hair,” says Valdes. If you currently have dark hair, you might not be able to accomplish the color in one sitting — and that’s before all the aftercare and maintenance begins. “You’ll need to bleach root regrowth and tone the hair every six to eight weeks to keep brassy tones at bay,” Brownsell says.
How To Maintain Bright Blonde
If you’re brand new to blonde, prepare to overhaul your hair care routine. “Aftercare is so important to keep your hair in the best condition, not only for its health, but to actually be able to hold onto color,” Bodt tells Bustle. For one, she notes that you’ll need to switch to color-preserving shampoo and conditioner while incorporating weekly or bi-weekly toning treatments. More specifically, Bodt and Brownsell suggest using silver shampoo and/or conditioner every second or third wash, and Valdes recommends opting for a purple toning treatment once weekly.
Experts also encourage the use of weekly reparative masks and treatments to help protect and revive damaged hair, as well as taking less frequent and colder showers. “Use cooler water [in the shower] to stop color from leaking out, as really hot water can be stripping and fade it,” Brownsell warns. And, for that same reason, you should try to wash your hair less frequently. “Dry shampoo will be your best friend,” says Bodt.
Dreading cooler showers? Well, it’s better for your skin, too. According to Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, very hot showers and prolonged exposure to water can be drying, and should therefore be avoided to help maintain moisture. And seeing as bleaching your hair is notorious for drying and damaging hair follicles, you’ll want to treat your blonde locks as you would the most sensitive skin.
Excess heat in general should be avoided if your hair’s blonde, and this goes for styling tools, too. “I always tell clients to think of their hair as if it’s a delicate fabric. You wouldn’t just throw it in washer/dryer constantly,” Curti explains, clarifying that the less you wash your hair or use styling tools, the better for maintaining your bright blonde. Therefore, experts suggest letting your hair air dry as often as possible, turning hot tools’ temperatures down to their lowest settings, and/or opting for modern hair-protecting styling options instead. It may take some work, but with proper upkeep, your ’90s blonde will remain sparkling and bright for as long as possible. Or, at the very least, until your next color transformation.