The most exquisite hair highlighting effects are now inspired by makeup. Discover the best technical tips on how to achieve these luminous, luxe looks.
It’s an understatement to say that hair colour is the new makeup. Every major brand is now positioning its new palettes as colour accessories, so clients can change their hair colour on a whim, experiment with new placements, and fall for sun-kissed looks.
“To get that beautiful colour story, essentially you’re contouring and highlighting hair as you would a face. You’re using lightening products and hair colour as a makeup palette to enhance or minimize,” says Michael Shire, a national Goldwell artist.
There are a multitude of ways to create a contouring effect on hair, but mainly “it depends on how much work your guest is willing to go for. So, you really want to make sure you address this during the consultation,” says Shire.
In contouring, you’re basically working with highlights and lowlights to create the illusion of light and shadows. “Pay attention to what nature would do,” recommends Shire. “If you emulate that, it’s a fail-safe approach. And always remember to ‘tuck’ hair underneath with lowlights as you work towards the back of the head.”
Depending on how extreme you want the look to be, work with a 20- or 30-volume developer. “But you will need hair to be as light as it can be,” adds Shire. “Now that bond multipliers are part of so many brands’ lightening systems, they help keep hair’s integrity intact, which is a pivotal and important part of contouring. “The toner is also super important, as you want to acidify the hair after you pre-lighten it, to keep from snapping
Crystal Brown, colour ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel, defines halo highlights as “lightness around the entire hairline that illuminates the face.” These specks of light are usually placed fairly close to the scalp, so that they start softly and are more diffused, then build more brightness into the lengths and tips.
Placement follows, or is parallel to, the hairline. Brown starts by separating out a one- to two- centimetre deep section around the entire perimeter and working there first, in either balayage or highlights. If she needs to protect this section when moving onto the rest of the hair, Brown gently lays a plastic film over the section.
Depending on the hair’s condition, or how dark it is, the technique and the product choice will vary. Brown usually chooses balayage and freehand techniques for blonder hair. “For darker hair, I usually work in very tight babylights, enclosed in foil, with a very feathered application at the scalp combined with ‘tipping’ on the ends. ‘Tipping’
is achieved by back-brushing the lengths left out between the foiled and feathering lightener onto the last 1/2 to 1/3 of the length.”
Lavenders, cobalt steels and dusty rose are adding their poetic touch to balayage. As in makeup, hair colour tends to have a “colour of the moment,” and right now we’re seeing blush tones everywhere.
In hair colour, blush translates to soft and slightly pinkish and peach tones.
“I like glossing or toning client’s hair with a fresh or existing balayage into a blush shade,” says Brown. “It’s so easy to do because the tones are soft. They gently fade away, and then you can change them just as you would your shade of lip gloss.”
“This fall, we’ll be seeing the same effect, but with deeper, bolder colours with more tonal qualities and depth,” adds Shire. “The technique stays the same, but we just change the palette up a bit. Just as the seasons shift, hair colour should as well.”