(Beauty Report Card)

Now That I’ve Nailed This Routine, My Blonde Hair Has Never Looked Better

It’s surprisingly easy.

As a card-carrying member of the blonde-as-a-child club, I’ve spent my adulthood playing with different tones, ombrés, and highlights trying to find my identity. Naturally, my hair these days is more of a woody light brown, but I spend a few days in the sun and streaks of sand start to peek through. I feel blonde (not in an Elle Woods kind of way), but I can only achieve my perceived self’s bright, ashy tone with the help of a colorist and a rotation of products for maintaining the shade — from shampoo for blonde hair to a toning gloss designed to keep my towhead status.

Read more: Purple Shampoo Could Actually Be Making Your Blonde Look Darker

Others who have dabbled in the realms of bleached and brightened hair know that it can be rough on your locks — I’ve had moments where my hair was so dry I was waking up every morning to a matted tangle that took 20 minutes to undo. Regularly refreshing and reviving my hair with the help of hair masks has been a game-changer.

As any beachy blonde should, I’ve also spent a lot of time in the ocean over the past year, and while salt water does naturally lighten up my hair, it also leaves it sticky. So, personally, I’m on the constant search for products that restore my silky, soft texture from root to tip. I’ve also come to learn the importance of a strong rotation of toning products — shampoos, conditioners, and creams — to prevent the blonde from turning brassy over time. Since my skin is more on the olive side, I find that I prefer blonde tones that are on the cooler side, which makes toning regularly all the more important.

Below, I’m unpacking more of my haircare routine to explain exactly how I keep my long, blonde hair healthy between visits to the salon.

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I’ve tried out a number of toning shampoo and conditioner combos, but both Oribe’s Bright Blonde combo and Davines’ Alchemic duo are personal favorites because they keep my hair feeling healthy between washes (I try to stick to only cleaning my hair once or twice a week) and they both smell luxurious — ideal for a relaxing shower experience. Over the summer I also tested Aveda’s conditioner as part of TZR’s beauty awards, and have kept up using it regularly.

Hair Mask

Every few weeks, I’ll add a mask into my routine to ensure that my hair is getting enough moisture. Shu Uemera’s Color Lustre gloss has been my go-to for years on the recommendation of my colorist. It leaves my hair so slick and slippery, and it also acts as a heavy-duty toner for when my color needs a boost. I also swear by Olaplex’s Moisture Mask as a strengthening and hydrating option. More recently I started using Crown Affair’s Renewal Mask on a bi-weekly basis and I’m impressed with how much easier it’s been to manage my super-thick hair. Since I’m currently managing strands that hit just above my hip bones, I love that even the ends (which tend to get extra dry) feel hydrated.

Post-Shower Products

I’ve never been one to use a ton of styling products on my hair since naturally it only has a light wave and doesn’t need a lot of managing. But, adding a few hydrating products directly post-shower has helped keep my hair lively and soft. Ceremonia’s Guava Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner are great while my hair is wet to ensure it stays smooth. If I want a little bit of texture, I’ll add in Playa’s Endless Summer spray and Ouai’s dry foam. The duo keeps my hair looking perky and adds a little bit more volume and movement. It’s the perfect addition to my now-vetted hair routine.