Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.
Planning to dye your hair blonde? There are plenty of different shades to choose from but it's not just about choosing your favorite shade though. There are so many factors to take into account, including the level of maintenance you're happy to handle, and the other features of your appearance like your skin tone and eye color.
Certain shades of blonde hair color will suit your features more than others. If you don't match these qualities accordingly with the blonde color you choose, you might find yourself looking washed out or downright odd. It's easy to match your features with the right shades of blonde hair color though, and you can find the perfect shade to change your look by following a few color rules.
Shades of Blonde
The different shades of blonde hair color available to you span all the way from the cool category of ash tones to the warmth of strawberry blonde. You can choose darker blondes that are closer to a brown shade, or go as pale as the icy cold platinum blonde. This assortment of tones include:
- Ash blonde
- Pearl blonde
- Natural blonde
- Beige blonde
- Golden blonde
- Caramel blonde
- Strawberry blonde
In addition to these natural shades, there's also a number of modern looks like metallic blonde or pastels, and various ways you can enhance any blonde hair color with the use of techniques such as balayage. Techniques like this can even reduce the amount of maintenance required for a particular style.
Your skin and eyes can be either cool or warm-toned. Knowing the tone of your skin will help you choose a color that matches your skin so you don't end up looking odd or washed out.
As a rule, those with cooler-toned skin tend to suit cool tones of blonde like ash and pearl blondes. If you have warm skin, you will look best with a warmer blonde, however. This is because the similar tones complement each other, though sometimes you might be able to play with opposing tones for a stark contrast and have it look good too.
How to Examine Your Features
If you look at the appearance of the veins under your skin, this is a fairly good indication of the predominant tones present in your complexion.
If these veins are blue, your skin tone has a pink undertone and is classed as cool. Green veins however suggest more gold tones present in your skin, which categorize it as warm.
Your eyes are easier to analyze because you can tell right from looking at them that if they are grey, blue, or green they are cool-toned. Eyes that are hazel or brown are warm-toned and will be accentuated best with warmer shades of hair color.
Once you know the tones of your skin and eyes, you are better equipped to choose from the different shades of blonde color without risking making a color mistake. It is the colors that are present in your features and hair that will either complement or clash with each other.
When you dye your hair, for best results always match the tone of your hair color to the tone of your skin. Cool blonde shades will suit you best if you have cool-toned skin, and warm shades of blonde will look best against warm skin.
|Eye color||Matching blonde shade|
Ash, pearl, natural
Ash, pearl, natural
Beige, golden, caramel, strawberry
Beige, golden, caramel, strawberry
Cool-toned shades of blonde hair color consist of ash blondes, pearl blondes, and to a lesser extent, natural blondes. These shades have blue or violet base tones which form the base tone of your hair color and complement cooler features.
Ash blondes are the most intense shades in this group and can look anything from silver to gray blonde, while pearl blondes give you a clean platinum result. Natural blondes are a balanced neutral shade that will give a result that is neither overly cool nor warm.
Blonde dyes in the cool-tone family match well with blue or green eyes. Eyes that are this color will be accentuated and appear more vibrant and colorful when paired with these shades of blonde hair. Pearl dyes are more forgiving in this regard, however, and they can look good even when matched with brown or hazel eyes because these shades leave a little more warmth in the hair.
If your eyes don't match, you can still wear cool tones and look pretty good, as long as your skin is cool-toned. This is the most important factor in choosing a hair color because it's a much more noticeable feature of your appearance and any clashing will be way more obvious.
|Blonde shade||Base tone||Tone family|
Pearl / iridescent
Violet / gold
Gold / copper
Warm shades of blonde have a gold or copper base color. These shades will suit warm-toned skin and accentuate warmer eyes. Colors can range from beige blonde, which is a subtle golden blonde shade, all the way to strawberry blonde, which is predominantly copper.
If you have hazel or brown eyes, a warm shade of blonde hair color will make them appear much more vibrant and stunning. You aren't doing your eyes any favors if they're blue or green, however, and in this case, your eyes will look duller.
If you have cool-toned eyes, stay as close to cool shades as your skin tone will allow. A beige blonde will often work with fairer eyes yet still look great matched with a warm skin tone.
Warm shades like golden blonde often complement a complexion that is also golden or 'sun-kissed', and a tip to get a lighter shade to work well for features like this is to highlight a darker shade. Conversely, warm lowlights in lighter or cooler shades can also help match them to your features.
Fashion shades are any shades of blonde hair color that look less natural or traditional. These are colors like metallic greys, pastels, and multi-dimensional looks that blend subtle pops of color like salmon or mauve through a more natural base color.
Shades like this go through periods of trends and tend to require a lot more maintenance but this is highly dependent on the particular style so it's not necessarily going to take more work to keep it looking good if you're careful with what you choose. In general, metallic and highlighted shades will be the easiest to maintain because they fade gently into more natural looks over time until they are retouched.
Other styles like pastels, rose gold blonde, or some of the more outlandish looks like lilac and lavender blonde will fade quicker and you'll need to put more time into keeping them looking nice.
Fashion shades are particularly diverse so it's harder to give specific directions to match them to your features. In general, if there's color involved, make sure that whatever color being used works for your look.
Rose gold generally looks best on warmer features for example, because it has golden and red tones, whilst lavender suits cool-toned features because of the dominance of blue and violet tones.
Shades of blonde hair color can be further defined by the depth of color present. This is called the level and tells you how dark the color is. It ranges from a level 6, which is a dark blonde, to a level 10, which is the lightest blonde.
When you're working with dye levels, darker levels will always suit best when you have a darker complexion. Darker shades can wash you out if you have a pale complexion, and pale shades generally contrast too heavily when matched with dark skin.
You can also choose a lighter shade if you're cool-toned, or a darker shade if you're warm-toned because of the lower contrast that occurs, giving you a bit more room to move before clashing becomes obvious.
Balayage is an application technique that can be used with practically any shade of blonde hair color to give it a little more dimension while making it blend more naturally and reducing maintenance.
This sort of style comes from painting the dye across hair in a way that breaks up harsh lines of demarcation as your regrowth gets longer, meaning less frequent retouches. The technique generally gives a really natural sun-lightened look, but it can also be used with other styles to great effect.
Consider it if you want multi-dimensional blonde hair and less time spent toning or retouching your color.
Mushroom blonde is a popular style dispersing multiple ash shades of blonde and light brown through the hair using balayage, as well as some subtle warmth to keep it from looking too drab.
Due to the inclusion of multiple levels of color, this shade can look great on most skin tones and depths by adjusting how much warmth is used and the balance of blonde to brown. It's also a really low-maintenance option that will grow out or fade without looking bad between retouches.
See the video below from stylist Kristi Jennings for a good look at how mushroom blonde can transform your look.
- How to Dye Your Hair Blonde
Dyeing your hair blonde is a little more complicated than most colors, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can achieve a beautiful and natural result.
- How to Tone Blonde Hair
Blonde hair looks its best when it's properly toned. Find out how to tone blonde hair and maintain your look...
- How to Dye Your Hair
Everything you've ever wanted to know when dyeing your hair. Find out how to get salon quality results.
Choosing a blonde color that matches your skin is the best way to ensure your new color looks great. Many shades of blonde hair color can bring out the color of your eyes and even make your complexion look clearer when done right. The key is to take your features into account before you make a decision and work with what you have instead of against it.
Having trouble choosing a shade that matches your features? Leave a comment below for tailored advice.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Maffew James
Mirzeta on July 02, 2020:
I have currently very light ash blonde hair I wanted to go to a level 7 ash blonde will it turn out green ?
Carol on June 01, 2020:
I am 81 year’s old, fair complexion hazel eyes. Think of trying Carmel blond level 7. Have 60% grey, more on the sides. Opinion?
greytabby on May 22, 2020:
I'm 70% grey on a light neutral blonde natural colour (about 9). I want to cover the grey, but using a shade 10N did not cover it. Would I do better with a 9N, or should I add golden tones to cover up grey? I have blue eyes and neutral toned skin, very pale.
felicia on April 15, 2020:
I have fair but warm tones blue eyes with a slight copper around the pupil I love blonde hair but everytime it is dyed it gets gold with slight reddish tones natural hair has a lot of gold and reddish tones I can't seem to eliminate
Amariluv on February 06, 2020:
I have I’d say autumn brown eyes and my skin tone is neutral according to those skin color testers at Sephora. My veins are blueish green . My cheeks have slight redness to them majority of the time. I get described as olive tone a lot until recent years anyways . Ive worked overnights the last few years and have been getting very little sun so I’ve been paler for me anyways . I used to get ask a lot of I was Hispanic but not so much the last few years . Anyways what shade will look best on me . I’ve done strawberry blonde which others loved but I hated and a dark neutral blonde before that I felt washed out and got asked if I was sick. I did bleach platinum blonde which at the time I hated and changed immediately but now looking back I did get a lot of compliments.
Maffew James (author) on December 30, 2019:
It's a bit problematic because you can't affect the highlights so much without also potentially altering the base colour unless you were to section it out and dye only the highlights.
Probably the easiest solution would be to use a fairly light semi-permanent warm blonde dye to reduce the ash in the highlights and it wouldn't be dark enough to alter the base colour very much.
As for matching your base, that depends a lot on how chunky/numerous the highlights are. Larger sections look more prominent whereas more spread out thinner highlights appear as if the affect the whole colour of your hair more. The latter will blend because changing their colour changes the overall look of colour in the hair, while the former example, toning it just a little to look beige blonde rather than ash should be fine, but probably avoid going too warm.
Not matching the base could be why you dislike the ash to begin with since it would stand out too much so warming them up might help in both ways. Depends what tone your base colour is really.
Hazel on December 19, 2019:
I have level 7 base with ash blonde highlights. I have blue eyes and neutral skintone. Im not keen on the ashy highlights, what can i do to change them to a beige or creamy blonde and would tgat match my base?
Hazel Jameson on June 16, 2019:
I have green veins which suggests warm skintone, tan easily. But i have blue eyes so which shade of blonde is best? I currently have no8 base colour and highlights with light brown lowlights but wonder if i should add some warmwr toned highlights. I have 50% grey.
Nova on August 29, 2018:
Where are the grey eyes?? I have grey eyes D:
Christina on August 14, 2018:
I am definitely a dark haired was woman with warm toned skin, and my n original hair color is a light to medium brown, but I DID bleach my hair almost Platinum, and it DOES have some brown growth with gray coming in. It is also a pretty mottled color since I DID have low lights placed throughout. The beautician tone rinsed my hair several times too much that it drabbed the color and low lights so much that the end result was way too ashy too me, looking like I would if I never colored my hair and let nature take its course. So I then did one more bleach on my hair for about 2-3 minutes, just in hopes to get rid of the gray drab, but not back to the way the yellow toned, beach brassy look before the toned drab look either. So I wasn't happy with the end result whatsoever! I don't ever want to even come close to the black/brown hair color that I was a slave to, believing it was a match for me, even though I tended to like those colors for some reason, those colors washed me out and I now can see that. Now all I want is like a medium to dark blonde, staying away from any kind of brown. Can you help please? I've been looking and searching and briefing on the web for my favorite color and dye brand,. For hours and for days now. .. It's no use. I'm confused.
Rachel Franks on January 28, 2018:
I've been using extra light natural blonde Preference by Loreal for years but kinda leaves a red tone. I use shimmering lights shampoo but it's not enough in my openion to tone the gold out. Would it be better if I used a ash blond instead?
Michelle on December 05, 2017:
Seems like everywhere I go, I get a different guess on which shade of blonde goes w my dark brownish black undertones and hazel green eyes.
I wish I had a hair genie who could figure in Out and get it right. Am I the only one “unhappily. surprised” every time I get my hair touched up?
email@example.com on October 07, 2017:
I have always done my own hair with professional products and it's been copper. I have now bleached blond and put a toner on my friend who is a stylist did the blond . My roots are naturally white. I need to color the white now to a nice blond. While bleaching my hair fell out and she had to cut 3 inches. I am very fair and have blue eyes. I hate ash tone colours as they just make me look grey and older. What can I do my hair is a slightly warmer color on the bottom and roots are white. Trying to strengthen my hair with products before toning or colouring. I can't afford a salon and using professional products since my early 20 because a gene causing premature grey and I get a skunk effect with my roots and was colouring the copper too often. Help
Jacqueline Dace on August 24, 2017:
My hair is not growing very well could you help me please thank tou
CESIA on July 26, 2017:
I have a medium warm YELLOW skin tone, I'm Latina I have dark brown eyes and I would like a change of look to a blonder look
Sheri on July 04, 2017:
I have green eyes,dark green. Most f my life my natural hair color was light to medium golden blonde depending on the season. Now in my later years it has darkened to a light medium brown with gray. Luckily the gray looks like blonde highlights. According to your advice I should not dye my hair golden or buttery blonde, my natural color. I also never heard of green veins before, that's new. So I can't really tell if mine are blue or green without someone with the color I'm not to compare with. What do you suggest?
Najibah Yousufi on June 08, 2017:
I wanted to know if I bleach my hair to the light yellow stage can i use indola 0.22 over it to tone? And how would I do that?
Angelica on June 03, 2017:
I have very pale skin (almost white), neutral tone. My eyes are hazel (brown and green). My natural hair color is brown but at the moment I dyed it copper/strawberry blonde and looks really good.
Once I had them bleached honey blonde at the saloon and looked yellow against my skin , making me look washed out . I'd like to be light blonde again but I don't understand what shade would work for me.
Tanya Sharma on May 17, 2017:
hey,I have black eyes like normal indian girl ,fair compexion ,brown hairs .I had blondle earlier..m looking forward for ash blonde ...
So, can you suggest the best one?
Telicia on May 11, 2017:
Can a warm tone person with yellow under tons do platinum blond what shade can I go for is ginger blond a good shade or golden blond thank you
Donna on April 27, 2017:
I have hazel eyes but I ha be pink fair skin. I am not sure if I am cool or warm. I have been platinum before and didnot look bad. I am thinking beige blonde this time
soo on April 21, 2017:
Hey there! I have a slightly medium yellow based skintone and dark color eyes would beige blonde suit Me?
Jam on March 03, 2017:
Hi. I have brown eyes and a fair complexion. My hair i s actually black but salon colored my hair ash blonde because i bleached my own hair. I have grey hair, and am doing my hair now with medium ash blonde of clairol nice and easy. But i font like the result because its like red.. what color do you suggest for me? I like a little blonde for a change but i dont like a lighter blonde. Thank you
Mathilda on February 23, 2017:
Hi!! I'm having trouble figuring if I have a cool or warm skin tone because even tho my hair and eye color is dark brown, I'm pale for example I only look good with darked or more vibrant nail polish colors otherwise my nails seem to fade in if I use like nude colors. I'm confused how can I figure it out?
Maano on February 18, 2017:
Hi...I'm cool toned with greenish brown eyes....Which hair colour will suits me??
Ann on February 14, 2017:
Ihave medium/lght reddish brown natural color. Ivory skin mild rocacia .bluish green eyes.best blonde color please.
Diane on February 09, 2017:
I've olive skin and blue eyes what color of blonde should I go with
Nancy on February 07, 2017:
I am 64 years old. I have dark blue eyes and my hair is mostly gray. I have been using a medium natural blonde but look washed out, my hair looks quite white. I tried a golden blonde for warmth but that doesn't look good either. What would you recommend????
Rachel on February 02, 2017:
Hi, my natural hair color is a dark ash blonde. When I use ash hair dye or even natural my hair gets a green tent. When I use warm colors my hair looks brassy or coppery. I have used the purple shampoo to try and tone down the brass. But I would really like to find a good base color that fits my hair. I just want it a few shades lighter, I love the ask and natural colors but worry it will get a green tent.
Pamala Prosch on January 31, 2017:
Oh and also, I have blue eyes but my skin is a light/medium. Maybe more medium than light. It falls into the neutral, but I think I look better with a little warmth. I really like the picture of that blonde titled "beige" icon. How would I get that? Or maybe that is too cool. My natural color leaned warm in hair while I was growing up. Thanks!
Pamala Prosch on January 31, 2017:
I have a question about color. I'm a natural 7, maybe 6 now because I'm starting to get gray and its definitely looking more ashy at the root. I'm about 20% or under but the gray is all around the front. Ugh. Anyway, I've been using a hi lift blonde with 20 v at the root to bring it up, but not too much. The professional colors are so much darker, I have no idea what to use. I used to use level 8 with store bought. My question is at a 6/7, what should I be doing to best achieve a 8/9 color? I am afraid to use 30v because I've read it doesn't cover the gray? Should I use a 9.1 with 30? a 10.1 with 20 v at the root? Or stay with a hi lift and lower v? I"m confused and hoping you can help! Thank you!
Shadi on January 20, 2017:
I have green/brown eyes and my skin tone is, I guess, what you call it warm.Because my veins are green
Lyn on January 11, 2017:
How do I decide what colour blonde to go for if I have green eyes and green toned veins? Cool or warm.? I have about 2 inches of grey roots growing out. My hairdresser says I should grow out the grey but it is aging me more I think. Please help
Flaria on January 03, 2017:
Hi, I've been told that I looked good in warm color yet, I previously dyed red in the past. Dark red. Recently, my current hair is dyed by two different shade. First time, last year, I highlighted my hair with the head cap. Using the developer and the color dye called Sandstone Blonde. Now, it did lighten to dark caramel color but not blonde, which is fine. Made it looks like I have warm caramel as a low lights. My natural hair color is dark brown with a time of red, blonde and brown. I do have natural blonde streak in the front, both sides. Hard to see but obviously lightened a lot faster. Not super bright, thankfully. Lol. I'm mixed race with quarter Greek and half Irish. Hardly tanned but only a little at a time. My eyes can be between Bluish-Green Hazel to Blue-Gray depending on the mood with muted mustard yellow around the pupil.
My under tone is both like a half. Sometimes, I have blue veins other times, green. My face is not always red around the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. Funny thing is that almost everyone likes my hair lighter and some red made my eyes more popped. My hair is past the shoulders, thick a bit coarse. I always have my hair a bit short with a lot of layers all around. Left side parted. Second hair dye is from the box for high lift multi faceted for brown hair. Covered my hair really well and it did made my hair lighter and tad warmer. Yet, the lowlights areas are lighter. So far, I liked it. I was thinking about dying my hair again this hair after growing them out a little more and more conditions the ends that's tends to dried out faster. I would like to go dark blonde in neutral shade. My problem is to decide which tone suit me the best overall. Red is my favorite color but, I rather look good in any dark tone as it allows me to.
donna on December 27, 2016:
I am going grey I have blue eyes pale skin. I was ash brown what color should use to highlight my hair
Cindy on December 23, 2016:
My skin is light to medium red undertones, green hazel eyes. What shade of blonde is right, my hair pulls red
Maha on November 28, 2016:
I need to tone , bleached hair upto level 8 into beige Matt blonde...
I'm using free limix hair dyes.
7/2, 8/2 or 9/2 are Matt colours
It also has supper lighteners
How to use these super lighteners?
Maffew James (author) on November 23, 2016:
Sounds like you might fair best with more of an off-ash or cool neutral shade rather than pure ash. Eg, 9AG (ash gold), 9NG (natural/neutral gold), or 9NA (natural ash) may be better than the 9A. In terms of tone, the number or letter after the dot, slash, or hyphen etc tells you the dominant tone in the dye, and any letter or number after this is a secondary tone in order of intensity. A 9AG in this sense is ash with a gold secondary tone. You can use mixed shades like this to get a more exact result that will suit your own features without mixing shades yourself, or settling for something that doesn't entirely match.
Tess on November 23, 2016:
hi there I have just put some platinum blonde randomly into my hair i already had a light ash blonde which I thought looked a bit lifeless and dull so hence the platinum blonde which I love as it really brightens my skin but if I put it right to the roots it would wash me out. It turned orange where the ash blonde was so I put a Natural Light Ash Blonde 9.1 over the orange which made it look very flat even though I left the ends the brighter blonde I have blue/green eyes my natural hair colour is now white but used to be brunette. I think I am a cool tone but the problem is if its too cool it makes me look ill and if its too warm my skin looks a weird colour. Am I a neutral? Help!
Maffew James (author) on November 16, 2016:
You mainly want to keep the roots touched up as quickly as possible when it grows to reduce the red tone if this is where it's predominately coming from. If you're seeing it in your lengths as well though, this is because of the ash dye fading and a toner will work for this purpose. However, keep in mind that in hair with highlights and lowlights, the effect of a toner can be a little erratic. If you use a toner that is too pigmented, the ash will really grab to the highlights, whilst a toner at the right level for the highlights will have minimal effect on the base colour and lowlights.
If you go this route, it'd be best to use a semi-permanent 9A so that the highlights don't turn a blue colour. Anything darker would likely be too strong on these areas and make your hair look odd rather than simply less warm. You can use cream dye, mousse, or gel depending on what your prefer for this, with the creams being applied like permanent dye and having a stronger effect, whilst the gels and mousses are generally applied after shampooing and give a more gentle tone. None of these products will cause damage and will wash out of the hair after a few shampoos if you accidentally over-tone it.
Alternatively, a toning shampoo like De Lorenzo Silver can be very effective. As this shampoo has a lot of blue pigment, it's optimal for toning blonde hair that looks more reddish, whilst the violet shampoos are for yellow / gold tones. It is a strong product though, so you may have to dilute it down with a white shampoo depending on how it affects your hair to prevent over-toning. If it does over-tone, it will mostly wash out of the hair after 1 - 2 shampoos with a regular non-coloured shampoo.
Joey on November 14, 2016:
I was a light natural blonde with very good depth (cool skin tones, lightest ivory skin, and bright blue eyes) until I had my daughter . Then my hair dropped down to about a 7-8 with much less range and a lot more red. I want to look as much like my old self as possible. My hair pulls red, and I have been using a 9A for the base and root touch up, a 10A for highlights, and 7A and 8A for depth. ( i want the roots just a bit below the rest for a more natural look) The problem is that when my hair got darker, it also got a lot more red in it, and as soon as it starts to grow out, the red comes through. I usually just touch up the roots near the top (9A), and keep it darker underneath for depth. If it gets too red, I just go over it with the ash-based low lights. I am more or less happy with this approach, but there is still too much red in my hair. (It makes my skin look very red also, which I do not like.) I don't want my hair lighter, I need it less red. I have never used a toner. Everything I have read is too general for me to make sense out of it for my specific case. Is there something else I can do to combat the excessive red?
Seryn (firstname.lastname@example.org) on September 22, 2016:
So I'm confused with what shade that I want. I have what you'd call porcelain skin and have blue eyes between dark and light. I kind of want a light type of blonde hair which kind of looks silvery but I just need to know if I can pull it off? Any suggestions? Thanks, Seryn.
Serena on September 13, 2016:
First just wanted to say you have an amazing website and thank you for the information. I'm not sure what to do. I used to highlight my own hair at home. Then I went to the beauty salon and had it bleached. It was brassy dark yellow reddish so o had to go back and have it lifted again. It turned out a beautiful light blonde. My roots have grown out but I don't want to double process. I would Love to redo it at home with a box of dye or the 30 develope if I have to but I don't want to double process again. My hair is curly and it was damaged. Meyes are green and olive skin. My hair is dark Brown with reddish Irish undertones. Please help and thank you.
Kathleen on September 11, 2016:
Yay, found you!
Waiting to receive wig to cover results I currently have after trying to dye my already dyed, washed out, medium golden brown hair to blonde. Orange shade resulted. Washed it with purple shampoo, but still isn't good color. Even though awaiting wig, I plan on trying to get blonde dye job right.
Here's what I need to know:
I bought Wella's 'Blondor Soft Blonde Creme Lightener' and 'Color Charm Cream Developer 20%'. Also bought purple shampoo and conditioner.
If lightener is mixed with developer in 1:2 ratio, and mixture does remove orange color and hair lightens to blonde shade, do I still need to then apply a blonde toner? OR, can I just wash it with purple shampoo and condition hair?
I read that this Blondor Creme Lightener is supposed to include blonde toner in it!
I think I have warm skin tone. I tan easily and med golden brown color made my hazel eyes look great! This orange shade makes me look washed out, though.
MAIN QUESTION IS WHAT COLOR BLONDE I SHOULD APPLY...THINKING WARM BLONDE IN A BEIGE.
Thank you for your time and assistance.
gail on September 04, 2016:
Hi there, I have grey roots and a ashy blonde at the moment, I have hazel eyes and pink complexion. I was thinking of going a little darker maybe a pearl. What do you think?
Eliana on June 05, 2016:
So this is going to be my first time dying my hair and im excited but nervous that I'm going to pick the wrong colour. So i have brown eyes and im a warm tone like tan kind of a the color of a pancake but my face is slightly lighter.which colour do you think will suit me the most in your opinion?
Sandy on May 22, 2016:
Hi, I'm a natural dark blonde and I would like to go a little lighter but I have troubles finding the right color- I have green eyes and blue veins but I blush easily and some blonde shades make me look like a red balloon. What would you recommend?
Daniella on May 21, 2016:
I am planning to dye my hair blonde but I have no idea if it will suit me. I'm Asian but my skin tone is neutral. I really want to try being a blonde but I don't know if I will look good. Can you help? I am around fair to medium in skin colour.
Jasmine Rodriguez on May 17, 2016:
Hi, James I went in for a new look. I wanted to go blonde. I have cool tone complexion with a ruddy skin tone. The stylist made me a caramel blonde with highlights which I think is to dark and a little orange brown. I don't like it. I want to go a little lighter to an ash or beige if that will complement my skin tone I am latina with dark brown eyes.
Novale on April 28, 2016:
I need help with color non short pixie style hair..I am 46. So not wanting to look older..mousy brown which I colored to cinnamon brownish ....shows alot of auburn..I really want to go lighter...been light blonde before n washed me out n was too close to grey..I HV turquoise eyes but warmer skin...was planning to bleach n do 7n??? Since I HV so much red now I don't want overkill....it's hard with such short hair not to get on roots n worried abt hotroots...do I still leave on same amount of time n do I use 20 developer or 30? Thnku so much
Mick3y on April 22, 2016:
Hi, James. I have neutral skin tone, pink flush in my face, natural mousy blonde hair and very light skin. I look very good and natural in brunette hair. But I want to go blonde but brassy blondes doesnt suit me though or maybe its just my imagination, but I REALLY want to go blonde. What shade and tint blonde would look amazing on me?
Megan on April 21, 2016:
I'm so glad I found this!!!! I love blonde hair so much. I actually think I'm in between skin tones. I have mainly red undertones but I have reddish brown eyes. So it's hard to find the right color. I had my hair done a few months ago and it's very yellow/buttery and it looks terrible on me.. if that helps at all. I've been platinum before and liked how it seemed to brighten my face but my eyes obviously didn't match very well. How can I get a nice blonde color to suit me? Maybe an ombre? Ash? I'm lost. Please help.
Jess on March 31, 2016:
Hi Maffew, I was hoping you could help me with choosing a hair colour that suits me?!
I have been dying my hair 'darkest brown' for as long as I can remember, I'm 29, relatively fair skin, blue grey small eyes & my hair is quite long & thick. I would LOVE to dye my hair a lighter shade but I have absolutely no idea what colour would suit me best? I adore balayage/ombré look & would love to transition to maybe bronde?
With my Italian background I'm scared that going lighter will enhance my ethnicity. Can you pretty please suggest shades/tones/colour & maybe a cut that would suit me? Take a look at my pics by clicking on my profile
Thanks a million xxx
Maffew James (author) on February 10, 2016:
The amount of lightening is dependent on how dark you want the blonde to be because gold is a tone, rather than a depth. Feel free to go to whatever depth you prefer, as long as it's past the orange stage.
Following that, I'd recommend toning with either an ash shade that is 2 levels lighter than the level you've reached, or a natural shade that is 1 level lighter. Leave this in only long enough to soften the harsh warm tones that appear during lightening and produce a nice looking result.
Kate on February 08, 2016:
How do I dye my hair in a beautiful golden blonde, what stage of decoloration is acceptable to achieve a golden shade? Is it ok to dye it after bleaching it to a light orangey yellow shade ?or do I have to bleach it to a light yellow,tone it and then dye it with a golden shade?.
Maffew James (author) on January 06, 2016:
Sounds like your skin tone is cool to neutral, but you may be able to get a better idea by looking at how the golden tone of your eyes and hair work with your skin and compare that to an ashier shade of a hair swatch or previous colour you've had if possible. That might be an easier way to determine the tonal direction. If the golden tones in your features seem to work well with your skin, this is a good indication that it is more on the warm side, whilst the opposite is true of a cool toned complexion.
As for the lightening, bleach doesn't destroy hair 'per se', in that if you haven't applied any dyes or other chemical products to your hair, a single bleach process done correctly will generally leave your hair in close to the same strength and appearance it had previously, after allowing it to rest for a week to regain lost moisture and return to its normal condition. If it's been processed heavily in the past, is already damaged, or is naturally weaker like in the case of fine hair, which has a thinner size than coarse hair, these are factors that can result in much more damage from bleaching.
It can also reduce curls because bleach alters the natural texture of your hair. This means that your curls can become softer, but it can also lead to more frizz if damage occurs. Ultimately, you need to take your hair's current condition into account before you decide to lighten it, and it would be best to proceed only if you don't have a lot of damage. It'll also lighten less quickly if you've dyed it previously with brown or black shades because artificial colour doesn't lift as effectively as natural pigment, so that's something else to consider if you've applied any dyes in the past.
samantha on January 04, 2016:
Hi so i just read this article. I want to go blonde like a lifht blonde. I can' decide if i am cool or warm toned. My wrist vains looks blue/more purple and my vain on my arm looks a little more green. I have light brown eyes like honey and light brown golden hair. There is times when i lok darker or lighter, but that is because of the lighting. I want to do my hair a blondewoth dark roots. However, i dont want a yellow blonde. I want it more twards the pear/platinum blonde. Would that look bad? Also, i have curly hair. Hont anythong poofy and dramatic, just soft curls. Would it get destructed? I know bleach cacn destroy hair, but some people say it is ok. Do you think i should do it?
Melanie on November 21, 2015:
I have green eyes. Natural hair level is a 7 . I am fair complected but have pinky tones in my skin. I can't tell if my veins are blue or green. Honestly they look a little of both? My hair color is usually always blonde. The few times I did go darker I always end up adding more blonde back in until I'm all blonde again. I usually do all over highlights. Platinum I feel looks the best. But is damaging and high maintenance. I really want to try an all over darker brown. Plum. Or a vibrant red ... I'm just not sure if not would look good or not!? I recently tried on some wigs and funny thing is the brown wig looked horrible. Yet the black looked ok even though I'm so fair complected. Ugh. I just want a change. Help.
Zee on October 17, 2015:
hi. I have a question. I recently bleached my hair to turn it into pink. It worked, but now I want to try blonde so am currently taking my time stripping color out.
Originally my hair is dark brown, eyes also. I'm fair and seem to have both pink and yellow undertones? At least that's what I think, my face has a bit of pink. I'm thinking of a more golden buttery blonde color but not sure about how it'll look, toner to use etc. can u tell me any products ud recommend. I once tried wella ash toner and it made the yellow very dingy.
abi_neutrino on October 10, 2015:
I have cool toned lightest alabaster skin and blue eyes. My hair is naturally dark ash blonde at the root and light golden to strawberry blonde at the ends. I got bored and dyed it red and I want to do a baylage blonde because my roots are really annoying and I want to cut down on the dying. Also, my hair is fragile because I have been unable to afford quality haircuts for a long time and was anorexic summer of 2014 so it's been splitting up the shaft. I'm getting it cut to healthy length (I'm now a model to a nearby salon!) but still need the least damaging solution. What would you recommend? :) ps, love the blog
Sue58 on September 14, 2015:
Hi Maffew, I have blue/green eyes and I tan easily so I believe I am a warm skin tone. Although my cheeks show some reddish tinge to them.I currently have Light ash blonde hair and I have added Light golden brown for low lights.I would like to start with a whole new base colour and perhaps add highlights to this. I would appreciate any base colours in the blonde shades or brown to start with that may look good on me.Thank you so much for any advice.
Maffew James (author) on September 05, 2015:
If you're applying over dyed hair, that is a common cause of this because your roots are natural hair. The natural hair lightens much more easily compared to hair that has been previously dyed, and the warmth of your scalp also boosts it, causing 'hot roots', where your roots end up lighter than the lengths.
As for the colour turning out darker than expected, this will happen if you're dyeing over previously dyed hair because it doesn't lighten properly from using more dye. Easiest way to avoid this is to pre-lighten it with bleach to the desired level and then tone using dye to finish the colour.
In future for the roots if these continue to end up too light when using a dye or bleach to lighten your hair, you may want to consider applying to your lengths first, leaving about 1.5 - 2 cm at the roots. Once it has been developing for 15 minutes you can apply the rest of the dye to the root area.
Tanya on August 20, 2015:
Hi! Thanks for this really informative article. I have a problem when dyeing my hair. Every time my roots end up lighter than the ends. I dye my hair myself and I use drugstore brands (mostly Garnier olia, I want to achieve their number 9.0) Probably I do something wrong. But every time the final colour in general is way darker than the one on the sample and the roots are visibly lighter and yellow toned than the ends. I dye the hair from roots to end and follow the instructions but I never end up with the desired colour.
Maffew James (author) on August 05, 2015:
Balayage is a good option for it to look natural and be low-maintenance. This is a highlighting technique, but it is applied more subtly and it doesn't produce harsh regrowth. Ombre is low-maintenance too, and it can be done in a way that is subtle or more extreme depending on how you want it to look. Either would work well and not look too obvious, and both can be used for that beach blonde look.
Maffew James (author) on August 05, 2015:
Apologies for the late reply. If he likes his hair that really ashy grey colour and it looks good, there's definitely no problem with keeping it.
To return to it, initially, a dye remover can be used if the dye was permanent. This will break the colour back down so that it can be washed out. It won't always take it all out, but it's non-damaging, so it's a good first step. After that, if it's still quite a bit darker than desired, a bleach bath can be used to sort this out.
Once it's light enough, it will then likely need to be toned, even if the dye remover took out most of the dye, because it's likely there will still be a red tinge through it. Toning with ash neutralises this red tone to return it to the silver.
Blake on August 02, 2015:
Hi im 14 years old, i used to have lighter hair but now is light brown. i love the sandy/beachy blondes, so should i start with highlights or ombre? because i dont want the dye to be so "radical". also i have brown hazel eyes with a neutral skin
Jkhr on July 27, 2015:
My boyfriend was talked into trying to cover his gorgeous silvery grey hair by his stylist. I wasn't with him to nix this idea. It is a disaster! Instead of coloring his hair to a pearly light blond, he now is a strawberry blond! NOT GOOD!
He has silver/grey eyes, pink toned skin, no freckles, clean shaven and his natural hair color was a light ash brown/blond. I have read that grey-haired people should stay away from ashy tones, as they are grey based and can be aging, but since that was his natural color to begin with, is it ok to try to get him back to that color? Can you recommend how to get him back to a more natural color? Or at least how to get rid of the red? We are based in the USA.
I am not a colorist, but I've dyed my own hair for years and years. However, I'm a redhead so getting rid of red tones is beyond my experience. Any advice is appreciated.
Maffew James (author) on July 21, 2015:
Generally that test is fairly easy and effective. You might be somewhere in the middle though, with more of a slight cool or slight warm skin tone. Do you find your skin tends to look more pinkish or golden/peachy? Also, if you tend to look better with pinkish foundation, this is a good sign you have cool toned skin, whereas yellowish based foundation looks better on people with warm toned skin.
As for getting the blonde to look right, what shades of blonde have you been in the past? Eg, golden, beige, neutral etc, and what tones have been most prominent? If your previous blonde colours have had anything from a yellow tinge to a golden tone, they will have been warmer blondes and you may suit something cooler that doesn't show these tones at all; eg, silvery ash blonde shades, or even something from the fashion shades like violet blonde. If you have cooler skin or slightly warm skin, you want to stick to shades that are neutral or cooler, so you have natural blonde, ash blonde, violet blonde (Looks like ash blonde or silver with a violet tinge depending on how light the shade is), rosewood blonde (Which is a nice pinkish violet blonde that can work even though there is a little red present).
Zoe on July 20, 2015:
So my veins look like a combination between blue and green and my eyes are green but I've been told my skin tone is warm? I naturally have mousy brown hair. I think I might kind of be in between? I've gone blonde before but it never seems to look right and I want to make sure I'm going to get the right shade now ... Any ideas?
Maffew James (author) on July 11, 2015:
Hi Judy, I'm glad you found it interesting.
judy on July 05, 2015:
Maffew James (author) on July 05, 2015:
The green tinge can be brand dependent. A lot of brands produce blonde shades that contain too much blue pigment at the level they are used, or even contain blue-green pigment. Blue on top of yellow or gold creates the green tinge; or a blue-green tone can do this by itself.
Ideally, if you want to try a cool blonde shade, you'll get the best results using what works for your hair. If you're seeing a lot of gold during lightening, you want to use something that is primarily violet based as violet neutralises yellow. For slight copper tones, use a dye that is violet-blue. The heavier blue-based ash blonde dyes are better used on very orange hair, and anything with green will only be beneficial when correcting red dye or dealing with a lot of red tone.
To make things easier, look for 'pearl' or 'iridescent' shades where possible because these are generally always a violet to violet-blue colour. If you know the base colours present in the different shades of brands you're using, this is the best way to gauge the expected result overall and prevent the green tinge.
One last thing though, if you like the way your colour looks after dyeing and it's mainly just after fading that the orange tone bothers you, De Lorenzo Silver shampoo is a good way to keep it toned and cooler for longer. This is a blue-violet shampoo so it will correct orange and gold tones. The presence of the violet tone means that even though it does contain a strong blue tone, it's not going to cause a green tinge because the yellow in your hair is neutralised and can't mix with any blue to produce green.
Maffew James (author) on July 03, 2015:
If the colour has turned out too dark, it's best to leave it for a few days and wash it with clarifying shampoo to try and strip it out. If it's still too dark after that, you can bleach wash it or use dye remover (Only use dye remover if the dye is permanent as it won't work on other types of dye), and then recolour it using the shade you want.
Let me know if you need further clarification or more help and good luck with your colour!
Kim on July 02, 2015:
Hi, I've been using a medium golden blonde preference but after a week or two it always has an orange hue to it. I want something more natural looking but whenever I've tried ash or natural colors I get a green tint. I have blue/gray eyes and blue veins. My goal is a medium to dark looking natural haircolor. Any advice?
julie on June 30, 2015:
I usually use a hairdresser but coloured my natural beige hair with natural beige blonde and it was gorgeous. Unfortunately 7 weeks later coloured it again with golden blonde and it has gone dark blonde very dark. Can you advise me what to use to get it back to my natural beige blonde do I use that colour again or a lighter shade. Also should I try a semi-permanent instead?
Maffew James (author) on June 26, 2015:
A medium or dark blonde should be closest. It can depend on how porous your hair ends up being after the colour removal though. If you don't end up needing to bleach, this will be less of a problem. Easiest way to deal with it is to apply to a small section as a strand test first and if it is too strong and the colour changes too quickly, go a level or two lighter so that you have more control over the timing. Apply, leave until you like the colour, and then rinse.
Rowan on June 21, 2015:
Thanks maffew! You saved me alot of damage i didn't know about the dye removal at all I though i am supposed to only bleach
Theres only one problem I dont know what level should i tone with to get something close to my natural blonde? I know it supposed to be ash to counter the brassiness from bleaching but what level?
My natural hair looks exactly as the girl in the pic in sunlight
Many thanks :)
Maffew James (author) on June 19, 2015:
If it's mainly just balayage, this will soften the colour a lot, so the change is going to have less of an effect on the way your skin look. As for your eyebrows, this is more up to personal choice. You may find the thinner appearance complements your lighter hair colour and you like it like that. Otherwise, it's fine to fill them in and it shouldn't look strange. Plenty of people have hair as light as platinum but keep their natural eyebrow colour and it still looks good.
If you do need to do something about them though, you could always have them tinted to a slightly lighter shade of brown, so that then when you fill them in they still don't contrast as much with your lighter hair. I'd recommend only going slightly lighter though. Like if your eyebrows are a dark brown colour, tint to medium brown at most. If you go too light it starts to look strange and more obvious; and you also have the problem of regrowth.
Maffew James (author) on June 19, 2015:
If it's a permanent dye and you've only applied it once, you will be able to remove a lot of it with hair dye remover. This reverses the chemical reaction that makes the dye permanent, so it breaks down and can be washed back out with shampoo.
It won't generally remove all of a dark colour like black, but it's a good first step because it isn't damaging. Any further lightening will require bleaching once you've removed as much colour as you can with the dye remover.
Once you get it to how light you want it, you will then need to tone it by applying a blonde dye to finish the colour and get it back to a natural looking blonde, otherwise the warmth revealed during removal of the dye will just look golden to orange in colour instead of blonde. Let me know if you need any further clarification on any part of the process or aren't sure of anything, and good luck with the colour!
Taylor on June 19, 2015:
Thank you! I have a hair appointment in the morning and will be doing a light ash blonde balayage. I'm nervous and excited!! My skin is very weird, it can be super pale but easily get red and in the summer it will burn fast but slowly get tan and be a pinkish beige tan lol. Any advice for eyebrows? I have thinner eyebrows and they are brown and i usually fill them in and i don't want to look like a clown with blonde hair and dark filled in eyebrows.
Rowan on June 19, 2015:
3 months ago I did the biggest mistake and dyed my natural blonde hair brown that turned out to a dull black it really doesnt match my skin tone at all and just washes me off
I want to go back to my natural beautiful blonde hair I know this will require harsh bleaching thats why Ive been taking good care of ny hair for the last 3 months and Im intending to do protein treatment after bleach
http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/34700000/Wa... this is exactly how my natural hair looks in sunlight gid I miss it :( please help me go back to anything clkse to it from dyed black hair , many thanks.
Maffew James (author) on June 18, 2015:
The beige will help blend the colour with your skin tone if your complexion is slightly on the warm side. It's a trick you can use to pull off cooler shades like ash. It will also help the colour work well with hazel or brown eyes.
The lighter ash on the other hand will soften to more of a silvery colour around your face and will work well with cool, pale skin and blue eyes. If your skin is very pale, having those lighter areas to frame your complexion can blend better.
Otherwise it's mostly just a matter of taste.
Maffew James (author) on June 18, 2015:
No problem, let me know if you have any trouble with the colour, and good luck!
jo on June 17, 2015:
Thanks alot for your reply I'm going to do a strand test and see how it turns out
one last question :D I want to get soft face framing highlights that blend in with this colour .. Do you think i should use a higher level 9 ash or a level 8 beige maybe?
Maffew James (author) on June 17, 2015:
Did you find that it was the colour that didn't work against your skin, or just the lightness of blonde hair? What tends to happen with cool toned skin is that cool toned colours will work best and warm shades like caramel or gold can clash badly. If the colour just didn't seem to work with your skin, natural, pearl, or ash blonde should match your skin better. Even a beige shade can be better in this situation because whilst it contains gold tone, this is more of a secondary reflect for a softer effect.
If your have fairly tanned or dark skin though, this can be another reason why blonde shades don't work. This can occur with any hair color because of the disparity between light and dark. The more of a contrast between how dark your hair and skin are, the more of a potential that it can look odd.
Maffew James (author) on June 17, 2015:
Looks closest to a level 8 ash. The difference in depth in the photo is likely a result of the lighting rather than the colour itself, although it's possible there is some balayage or highlighting / lowlighting present.
As for getting to the colour, your hair needs to be lightened to level 8, at which point it should be about the colour of the peel of a banana. You're aiming for a yellow colour that no longer has orange tones to it (Unless you're lightening dyed hair, which won't always proceed through the different base tones during lightening like natural hair due to leftover dye pigment).
Once you're there, and if this is the case now, you can then tone with ash at level 8 to finish the process. I.Color 8SA gives a very nice silvery ash result like the picture, but any 8A will work fine.
Elizabeth on June 17, 2015:
Thank you very much for the advice, Maffew. It was so nice to hear some affirmation- my parents think I'm going to look like a freak. But somehow that is appealing... my inner weirdo is shining through :') Thanks again, I appreciate the punctual/thorough response.
Taylor on June 15, 2015:
Hi I've always dyed my hair black/blonde and every time I've dyed my hair blonde it didn't look good on me but id give anything to be able to pull off blonde hair. I would always have the caramel blonde or darker blonde. i never tried a light ash blonde and was wondering if i could pull it off. I have cool toned skin and my face gets red easily.
jo on June 15, 2015:
My hair is currently an ugly yellow after bleaching it
is the color I've been trying to achieve but not sure how? Is that level 9 ash blonde? Also do you think this color got highlights/lowlights .. Because i feel it got beautiful dimensions to it and not just a flat color?
Also to get this color do you think i should further bleach my ugly yellow or just put the dye on it hoping it will tone things down?
Thanks a lot for your time
Maffew James (author) on June 11, 2015:
If you find that you look great with your natural hair colour, chances are you have a warmer skin tone and this will work best with beige or golden highlights. Aim for something no more than 1 - 2 levels lighter than your base colour and apply either thin delicate layers, or in a direction to mimic the way the sun hits your hair for the most natural look. The lighter and heavier you go with the highlighting, the less natural and more obvious the effect becomes.
Maffew James (author) on June 11, 2015:
You should suit platinum very well, particularly the more silvery ash shades. Having pale pinkish skin and blue eyes works very well with light blonde shades of hair.
As for the process to do this, your hair is already light, so you're not looking at too much lightening to get there, but it will need to be lifted to pale yellow and then toned to get platinum hair. For the toner, violet based will give more of a 'white' platinum, while violet-blue will give more of a silver platinum.
mary on June 10, 2015:
Hey maffew . I want to get natural looking highlights that suit my natural dirty.blonde hair .. What colors do you suggest?
Elizabeth on June 08, 2015:
I really love the platinum look and finally worked up the courage to actually call and make an appointment. I have blue veins, pale skin (with a some freckles in the summer), dark brows, and wavy brown hair with redish undertones that highlights very quickly in the summer. I've never dyed, highlighted, or treated my hair in any way, and I don't use heat tools or styling product. My hair falls to about my waste and is very thick so I was going to get it trimmed and layered up a little bit- I don't want to knock off too much length.
It's been a rough year, and after a while deciding I came to the conclusion that my new hair should reflect a new beginning. Anyway, I never thought I could pull off the platinum look, and I'm still not completely sure that I can (not as well as abbey lee kershaw anyway). Still, I'm ABSOLUTELY in love with the look and want so badly to try it. I love the pearl platinum, and I like the colors that have a little more depth to them (a little variation). Here's a link to my pinterest board :
It has a few pictures of me and the colors that I'm considering. Will I be able to pull off that kind of color? And if so, what shade/ variation do you suggest?
thank you for your time! I really want to do this RIGHT.
Maffew James (author) on June 01, 2015:
Generally, the paler your complexion, the lighter you can go with hair colour before it starts to contrast too much. If there's a big difference between how dark your hair and complexion is it can look strange, but it works fine sometimes. The most important thing to take into account is the tone of your skin because if you match that, you soften the look of the colour overall, even if there is some disparity with the darkness.
Another tip is to base it off your natural colour since you're already blonde. If your current colour suits you fine, you'll generally still look good with anything 2 levels either way (2 levels darker or 2 levels lighter). Anything further than this and it's more likely you won't suit it as much.
Teia on May 29, 2015:
I have pale skin but tan fairly easily because i go to a tanning salon. I have freckles that come out with more sun and not redness in cheeks. My eye colour is a green/hazel and my natural colour hair is dirty blonde. I want to go lighter but not sure how much i can go without being washed out! Can u help!? Im supposed to get my hair done tomorrow!
Maffew James (author) on May 25, 2015:
Looks closest to a medium golden blonde, but with an ash tinge. 7N and 7G together should give you a close approximation of the colour.
Anna on May 23, 2015:
Hi maffew! :)
I want to dye my hair this colour
What colours i use after bleaching? (In numbers please)
Thanks a lot
Maffew James (author) on May 11, 2015:
Beige or natural blonde, apply and tone until the gold tones are softened to more of a natural looking gold. Otherwise if you just use a golden shade, this doesn't add any cool tone to cut down on all the warmth that is revealed during lightened.
gina on May 10, 2015:
I want to dye my hair a level 7 dark golden blonde, I know I have to bleach my hair first till its gold right? Should i then use a level 7 dark gold blonde? Or a level 7 natural blonde?
Maffew James (author) on May 06, 2015:
It's likely your hair is quite porous after transitioning from a dark colour to a very light colour. When hair is porous, dyes tend to absorb more readily, but the hair doesn't hold onto them quite as well. There's no definite fix because it's just the way lightened hair acts due to damage of the cuticles and inner structure, but protein treatments can help repair the structure and allow it to hold colour for longer sometimes.
Overall though, with your hair I'd recommend using a mousse or a violet shampoo to keep it toned because these products can be used while you wash your hair to add tone back in after every shampoo as needed. They're also a non-damaging way to keep blonde hair beautiful and you don't need to waste time constantly dyeing your hair to keep it looking the way you want.
If you were to go this route, Igora 9.5-1 Mousse is a good pastel toner to add soft violet and counteract yellow tones after shampooing. It's a very delicate colour so it gives a soft result. With shampoo, because you're maintaining a fairly light colour you don't want it to be too strong so you should aim for a weaker product. You can always test it and dilute the colour down with white shampoo to soften it if it's too strong or you have a particular brand you want to use.
As for dye, for a more intense ash I'd recommend a 9.1 if your brand has this available. The 9.01 you're using is a natural tone with a secondary tone of ash and that's what gives the softer result. If you go with a primary ash tone, this will give a more intense result. The secondary tone is generally about 30% of the colour produced by a dye. The 8.01 could give a good result, but you need to be more careful with this as there is a big jump between a level 8 and 9 in terms of how much colour it deposits. Even though the ash is a secondary tone in this dye, the natural tone in a darker dye can darken your hair and look ashy on top of lighter colours so you will get a very strong effect. The 8.11 will be definitely be overkill. It will be incredibly strong because of the darker level and the amount of ash tone present in the dye.
If the brand you're using allows the use of 10 vol developer (Some demi-permanent dyes work with 10 vol or 5 / 6 vol and are more flexible, whilst others only recommend one developer strength be used), this can produce longer lasting results. The extra peroxide oxidises the colour more readily and more of it will bind to your hair. Otherwise, permanent dye will give a slightly longer lasting result, but it will still fade quickly due to the porosity.