“Expensive Honey” Is the New Hair Color of Summer
Photo: David M Russell / Courtesy of HBO

“Expensive Honey” Is the New Hair Color of Summer

Is it a slow news week? Because the internet is currently obsessing over the hair color journey of an increasingly intriguing character on Succession, HBO’s biting satire of the one percent. I’m talking about Willa Ferreyra’s road to what my hair colorist calls “expensive honey” (he also calls it “expensive, honey”). So, what’s the story behind Willa’s glossed-to-the-nines season four blonde?

The series that’s given us hours of TikTok hot takes, searing on-screen sibling rivalry, and a brilliant behind-the-scenes podcast, is the latest pop cultural moment to plant the flag for caramel hair. Summer 2023 is signaling a revival of conspicuously fresh-out-the-salon-chair trends. Our source materials: those anti-gravity blowouts on Chanel’s Cruise 2024 runway, which were so ’80s they could teach a Jane Fonda workout, and Beyoncé’s sumptuous “sun-washed blonde” (the handiwork of Bey’s longtime hair colorist Rita Hazan), which is radiating health, wealth and superstardom on her Renaissance tour.

“An expensive blonde is about more than just the overall hair color,” says Andrei Alexe, my colorist at Hershesons’ W1 flagship, who’s responsible for so many of London’s blondes-about-town that his “Alexeyage” (balayage 2.0) appointments are booked up two months in advance. “The mixture of tones, and the fact that the root color is deeper, creates the impression of thicker hair, which delivers the ‘radiance from within’ effect,” he explains.

It’s a departure from the platinum look that surged in popularity in the wake of the pandemic — those not-so-halcyon days when we also reached for the nail scissors and carved ourselves some cheekbone-grazing bangs. Roots (and, apparently, fringes) are not part of our expensive blonde world, Alexe reminds me. “You know the regrowth journey completes the look. If the color is tailored to match your features and blended well, there’s less maintenance between appointments.”

But, appointments really do seem to be key to this new mood. Those soft, honey-hued layers aren’t going to give themselves salon-grade bounce, are they? “We’re not meant to imagine Willa negotiating a Dyson Airwrap at 7am,” a colleague reminds me. True. We’re supposed to envisage the personal hairstylist making a home visit, or an outside-of-regular-hours salon appointment, while the car waits outside…