How to 'Blake Up' Your Blonde: What I Learned from Blake Lively's Hair Colorist

The actress's long-time color pro takes us through her process

Blake Lively has one of the most-shared celebrity manes on Pinterest. (Well, at least according to the inspiration boards I'm looking at.) And she's always the star I refer to anytime I visit a salon for a color update. So when I managed to snag some time with her Beverly Hills-based colorist Rona O'Connor during her most recent trip to N.Y.C., my wannabe-Blake head of hair and I ran right over with a stack of Lively inspo photos in hand.

Whether she's rocking a Serena van der Woodsen shade of blonde or a darker "bronde" moment, Lively turns to O'Connor, her trusted color pro of over a decade.

"I created her blonde for Gossip Girl and have blonded her ever since," O'Connor told me during our color appointment. "I named her 'Rosegold blonde' in 2009, because of the hints of blushed undertones."

O'Connor brought back some of those blush undertones when she colored Lively right before the 2018 Met Gala.

"It's another version of her go-to blonde with beautiful golden blush undertones," O'Connor told PEOPLE about Lively's Met Gala hair. "I created a warmer glow in her hair color, to complement her dress, and added a high shine that overall reminds me of a liquid color, and will reflect every detail of her hairstyle."


One of the things I always notice about Lively's shade is it never looks over-processed and she has that ultimate "lived-in" color. The secret to making it look so effortless, according to O'Connor, is all about finding the right base color.

"I lift her natural base color one to two shades lighter, to create either a natural beige or a golden beige base tone, depending on what her lifestyle or work requires," O'Connor shares. "This allows an easier outgrowth and less demarcation when her natural color grows in. One shade of lift gives the longest lasting results, and a low maintenance lived-in blonde look. I add slivers of golden highlights and low lights matching her base color to add dimension and sometimes slivers of golden apricot for a more blushed blonde result."

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How does O'Connor approach people like me who come into the salon asking for Blake's color? She a) listens, b) looks at the photos and c) adjusts the color accordingly, because it's important to pay attention to your own hair first.

"I look at their skin tone and adjust the blonde shade to suit their complexion," she shared. "I also just as importantly ask about their lifestyle and budget to keep their blonde look on point."

As for me, we decided to go a bit cooler and a bit blonder than Blake, but with that same "sliver of golden apricot" for warmth and an overall golden look. The grow-out period has been amazing — fewer trips to the salon! The highlights also add dimension and O'Connor's foil technique magically avoids that chunky, streak-y highlighted look. (I've been touched by Blake's angel.)

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Below, see O'Connor's helpful tips for reaching a Blake-level blonde.

  • Layering multiple undertones make the blonde hues stand out and sparkle. I like to hit my blondes with a "golden apricot" as a way to blush my blondes.
  • I always finish blondes with a clear or toned gloss to seal the hair cuticle, enhancing the color and reflecting more shine.
  • Leave-in conditioners are also key to maintaining a beautiful blonde, as blonde shades are more vulnerable to fading and drying out, causing lackluster hues. (Shop one of her favorites here.)
  • Blondes are more delicate when being heat-styled, and should be protected with heat-styling products, as well as using heat-styling tools on lower settings.

Some notes on how to avoid brassiness:

  • Protect porous blonde hair from chlorine by conditioning before shampooing to fill the hair, so it won't absorb as many minerals that can cause brassiness — especially if your home has brass pipes.
  • Use a water filter on your shower head.
  • Use violet shampoos and conditioners to counteract brassy tones.
  • Wash less often (two to three times a week if possible) by using a dry shampoo.

Go-to Color Shampoos & Anti-Fade Products:

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