By Leah Prinzivalli
With beach days and Summer Fridays long behind us, it may seem like fall is too late to go blonde. But just because you missed the chance for naturally sun-kissed hair doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to embrace the lighter side. Enter Vanilla Chai, a perfect fall/winter mix of blonde and brunette.
Vanilla Chai is a cool ash blonde shade first coined by Amy McManus, aka Instagram’s @camouflageandbalayage. Just like a spicy chai tea with a hint of sweet vanilla, this color is the best of both worlds: light while still allowing for dark roots, and bright while cool enough for fall.
McManus tells Allure that she created the look over four sessions with her client Bailey, who wanted a rooted blonde look for her wedding day. “She has a dark blonde base to begin with and with each session we’ve added more dimension and brightness using balayage only,” McManus says. At this fourth and final session, she combined two blonde shades to get extra lift and create “bright icy pieces” that mixed well with the softer blondes from previous sessions. Their goal was icy blonde with pops of brightness and a “believable” blonde finish. Mission accomplished. We can see why her client chose this look for a fall wedding — it’ll pair well with a white dress and a bouquet of autumnal blooms. But for the rest of us who aren’t getting married this month, it’s a down-to-earth look that (best of all) won’t require re-painting too soon, thanks to the dark roots.
This shade is best achieved on anyone with naturally light brown or dark blonde hair, McManus says. She also points out that balayage only worked on Bailey because her hair was naturally dark blonde. If you have hair from medium to dark brown, you’ll need to ask your colorist for foils.