Blonde Ambition

Blonde is best but finding a flattering hue can be a bit of a struggle. Kaye Holland heads to ColourNation to achieve this season’s hottest shade

I’ve been a blonde ever since my mother frog-marched me to the nearest hairdresser nearly 15 years ago, after a teenaged disaster with Sun-In – the spray hair lightener that turned my hair a spectacularly unflattering shade of orangey-yellow (not quite the sun kissed tresses I had been hoping for).

The hairdresser in my home town succeeded where Sun-In failed: transforming me from a mousey brown into a blonde (albeit a heavily assisted one) bombshell. It wasn’t a pain free process (back then highlights were administered via an agonising cap), but the results – a head of shiny, golden locks – were worth every minute in bleach.

I was hooked and subsequently I’ve been schlepping to a salon every six weeks for a peroxide fix, with almost religious devotion.

And then a year ago, my hairdresser – how inconsiderate! – emigrated to Australia leaving me bereft (I had a longer relationship with her than I have with any home or man and totally trusted her to alter my physical appearance).

I’ve spent the past year trying out new hairdressers from Shoreditch to Shebu, with disastrous consequences. Not only did I feel – as illogical as this sounds – as though I was cheating on my old hairdresser, but my exhaustive search has seen my locks alternatate between being too brassy, too white and too yellow. Little wonder then that, 12 months down the line, my tresses had acquired the texture of straw.

I hadn’t, of course, deliberately set out to get this hair but finding a fabulous hairdresser – the kind you can confide in and who will achieve the right shade of blonde – in the capital isn’t easy, as any woman will tell you.

A quick survey of Topshop’s mega Oxford Circus flagship store one recent Saturday morning revealed I am not the only blonde who had hit a highlights wall. I saw many varieties of blondes: the hard blonde (think jet black eyebrows and jet black roots),  a group of 50 year olds who resembled the Duchess of Cornwall with a solid wall of  corn yellow colour, wannabe models with their arctic blonde hair and a gaggle of teenage girls with their identikit three shades of highlights but not one of looked like they had been a natural blonde – the ideal that every artificial blonde save Hugh Hefner’s playboy bunnies is striving for – since kindergarten.

In despair, it dawned on me that maybe I should ditch the blonde and cross to the dark side. And then – praise be – the hairdressing deities intervened! Upon leaving Topshop I happened across ColourNation – a stylish salon on Winsley Street (just a stone’s throw from Toppers) that, as its name suggests, specialises in hair colour.


I followed my hairdressing heart and pushed through the doors to be greeted by ColourNation’s charming manager Andrew and senior stylist Andrzej Gruszeczka. And after a colour consultation with the fabulously friendly Andrzej, I knew that he was my mane (pardon the pun) man. Watching Andrzej assess my hair, I felt that I could rely on his personality judgments – he was quick to realise what was ‘me’.

And so I settled into a swivel chair at ColourNation’s enviably central salon, armed with a magazine and cup of coffee and let Andrzej work his magic. In order to achieve the perfect shade of age appropriate blonde (a softer shade that’s more flattering to the skin tone of a woman out of her twenties), Andrzej suggested that while foil would be fine for the front half of my head, we should balayage the back.


Come again? Balayage, Andrzej explained, is a French colouring technique that involves painting the hair by hand rather than traditional foiling to create “a creamy, sun kissed effect” as opposed to a stripey one. It is, if you like, a customisable dose of colour.

Balayage – from the French word ‘to sweep’ – has been around since the 70s but it’s all the rage right now thanks to the A-list likes Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Rosie H-W, the Duchess of Cambridge and Adele. Well if it’s good enough for K-Middy and co…

colour nation

After Andrzej had corrected my colour, he turned his attention to the cut. He advised me to grow the back (where the layers are ridiculously short) so as to give the style more shape, before taking the front section shorter, evening out the sides and giving me a soft, side swept fringe – a la actress Michelle Williams  – as opposed to the blunt cut bangs I have always sported. (“You’re too hidden behind your hair!” Andrzej exclaimed more than once during our session.)

Three hours later I looked up, into the mirror, and broke into a big smile. Andrzej had achieved what I had begun to fear was impossible: a glossy Grace Kelly shade of blonde and a modern yet classic hair cut.

Kaye’s new hair

I had barely left the salon before I was stopped and asked where I’d had my hair done – confirmation that I stood out from the crowd for all the right reasons. And later that night, out for a friend’s birthday, another couples of truths were  confirmed: gentlemen prefer [true] blondes – who definitely have more fun!

Sure, being blonde is a BIG commitment. Make no mistake –  it can be both time consuming and costly. But despite the maintenance and money involved, I’ll be back in the salon chair at ColourNation next month for as L’Oreal would say: “You’re worth it.”

To book an appointment with Andrzej at ColourNation, click here