A question for all fellow blondes: as the days get shorter, does the desire to opt for a darker hair colour set in, too? For me, ‘autumn bronde’ just seemed like a natural switch-up as soon as my sun-kissed butter blonde started to feel at odds with the season.
The start of autumn has always been a call for change. It’s that ‘back to school’ feeling, demanding a reorganised wardrobe in preparation for jumper weather, a stack of new stationery and a beauty refresh.
In the past I’ve swapped my light, buttercream blonde for all manner of shades that sound more like a coffee order than a salon service. Dark toffee, coppery pumpkin (heavily inspired by Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic) and auburn chocolate have all been on the seasonal menu. While it’s undeniably tempting to try the trending ‘cowboy copper’, this year I wanted something a little more low-maintenance to see me through the colder months.
What is autumn bronde?
Top of my mood board was that ‘90s-inspired dirty blonde – think Rachel’s caramelised hue in Friends as reference. I wanted to achieve a lived-in, glossy colour that wouldn’t be impossible to transition back to a lighter shade in the spring should the urge to do so kick in. The solution? ‘autumn bronde’, a perfect, warm hybrid shade that spoke to both my light and my dark side.
“Autumn bronde is a combination of blonde and brunette tones – it is neither blonde nor brown and can have a warm or cool tones within it,” says Emma Vickery, creative director at London’s Percy & Reed salon, who I went to see for my hair transformation.
How do you dye your hair autumn bronde?
Emma decided to choose a mushroom tone of autumn bronde for my hair, which was, in salon speak, around a level 7 – so not to dark at all.
“The excessive blonde build up on the ends of her hair visually made Amelia’s root look darker,” Emma explains. “Glosses don’t lighten the hair, they only deposit tone, so we decided to work with her natural base shade, so that the colour felt more even.”
The transition to a darker hue was really gentle. We started with an all-over warm, golden gloss left on for roughly 10-15 minutes to ensure the hair didn’t go ‘khaki’ green as pigment is added back into the hair. Once the gloss was washed out and my hair dried all over, it was a mousy/dark blonde.
Emma added a permanent colour on my roots to cover any stubborn greys, and then worked another dose of bronde gloss through the lengths to deepen the colour and boost extra shine.
A relaxing shampoo, condition and a couple of cups of tea later, I was all set to go with a fringe trim and a tousled blow-dry. The whole process took about two and a half hours – less time than a full head of highlights.
What are the pros and cons of a gloss over permanent colour?
If you are looking for a more multidimensional colour that will fade slowly and naturally, gloss is the way to go, Emma explained to me.
“Glossing over a permanent colour is lovely – it will create loads of shine and will help deposit a lovely rich tone on the mid-lengths and ends of the hair where the colour can fade and go flat from time to time,” she says. “Even if, like Amelia, you’re having a complete colour change, it doesn’t feel scary as glosses are semi permanent.” In other words, glosses are a great solution for blondes like me wanting to experiment with going darker without a serious commitment.
However, it’s worth noting that a gloss won’t lighten your hair – it’s a light to dark solution only. Nor will it cover your greys, so if like me, you have a couple you want to conceal then a hybrid gloss and permanent root tint may be your best bet. As Emma explained during my appointment, “permanent colours tend to be a denser, flatter coverage that grow out solidly from the root” and I wanted to keep the colour multifaceted to fade over time.
So if you are looking for a truly dramatic transformation, you may wish to go down the permanent colour path all over. However, gloss is a great option if it’s your first time colouring your hair and you want to approach the change with some caution. Or like me, you like to mix it up seasonally and don’t want to damage your hair in the process.
How do I maintain the colour at home?
My autumn bronde hue should last roughly 6-8 weeks, before needing a top up. “Maintaining glosses at home is super important – they are semi permanent so the fade is real,” says Emma, who recommends using a colour protecting shampoo and conditioner, such as Percy & Reed I Need A Hero! Wonder Shampoo and Conditioner. Opt for a weekly nourishing hair mask to boost the vibrancy of the gloss, too.
If you’re not feeling the darker direction, a clarifying shampoo’s cleansing agents will speed up the fading process.
My verdict on autumn bronde
I feel like I’ll always be a lighter blonde at heart but there’s something fun about embracing the new season through a hair colour change. It’s like unlocking a different side to yourself!
I’m enjoying the low-maintenance nature of this shade, too. My hair is softer and shinier and it feels good to embrace a healthier shade after summer’s chlorine and UV damage. I’m sure there’s more bleach in my future, but, for now, autumn bronde is my answer to the cosy girl beauty aesthetic.
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