Strobing has been all over social media this year. Here’s how to add this trendy hair colour technique to your repertoire.
Hair and beauty go hand in hand, so it’s only natural that some of the latest colour trends have been derived from makeup techniques—contouring was huge last year, and now strobing is all the rage.
“Strobing draws emphasis to an area in the hair,” says Jessica Van Kuyk, artistic director for Suki’s Salon, Spa and Academy in British Columbia. “A lot of the focus is around the face, drawing focus to a certain area and drawing attention away from imperfections.”
Strobing Basics: Where to Start
Whether your client has light or dark hair, strobing can be used to add volume and definition. For clients with finer hair, Van Kuyk recommends adding
a heavier strobing application throughout the hair for more volume, but says it needs to be a more careful process for thicker hair.
“For thicker hair, we need to be more strategic and place it where the hair tends to open up or split, making sure the look is not too expansive,” she explains. “Follow the natural growth direction, but make sure you are leaving enough depth. Keep the texture in mind since it can look too voluminous and frizzy.”
For a universally flattering look, Van Kuyk says a halo placement around the face is a popular strobing technique. “Take a section right across the front hairline and do a balayage skimming technique in two or three sections,” she recommends. “It creates a really nice halo effect for bright illumination around the face.”
What Makes Strobing Different from Other Hair Colour Techniques
While similar effects can be achieved with other hair colour techniques, Alex Chabot, artistic director for Matrix Canada, says strobing sets itself apart.
“Strobing is a new way of transforming the hair,” he explains. “You’re not changing the hair structure but rather putting a highlight or lowlight effect around the face to showcase a certain area. Unlike ombrés and sombrés, which demand clients come back to the salon every three to six months, strobing encourages clients to change their looks more often, changing their colour to focus on a different part of their face. By doing this, it will let you be more creative and make you more money.”
After the success of Matrix’s Rock ‘N’ Strobe collection last year, the brand recently launched Candy Strobe, the fall/winter 2017 collection that features soft hair strobing palettes such as Cotton Candy, Almond Crème, Raspberry Chocolate, Caramel Swirl and Cookies & Cream for accentuating the eyes, lips, cheeks, jaw and face.
“Candy Strobe is more about soft colours and pastels, while Rock ‘N’ Strobe was a bolder statement of intense vibrant colour,” explains Chabot. “With Candy Strobe, there’s light pink on white hair, caramel brown and men with grey and blue hair. There’s more tone-on-tone colour, which is more in line with your client’s way of thinking for the fall season.”
While strobing can be used year-round, Van Kuyk says it’s important to keep the season in mind when experimenting with the technique. “We tend to work with a deeper, warmer colour palette in the fall, so you need to strategically place areas of depth beside the strobing to make it look a little more multi-dimensional,” she says. Since our complexion is fairer at this time of year, this will bring out more of the lightness so the client doesn’t feel washed out. This is the time of year when strobing is a great technique for having pops of light rather than global light throughout the hair.”
With Strobing, Less Is More
Since strobing is so versatile, the options are endless when it comes to colour combinations. However, Van Kuyk says putting too much strobing into the hair can be a common mistake.
“You need to make sure you are leaving behind enough of the hair’s natural depth and incorporating some depth into the service,” she recommends. “Just take a look at how a child’s hair lightens out and where those areas of lightness are; concentration around the hairline and the crown area. Focus more on putting the strobing there and incorporate areas of depth throughout the hair to bring that out.”
While many clients may have only started hearing about the strobing trend now, Van Kuyk says it’s something that some of her clients have already been asking for. “Clients come in and ask for it without even realizing it; they will show me pictures and looks they are finding on Pinterest,” she says. “It’s a look that is softer and youthful.Whether we are dealing with clients in their 20s or 50s, everybody can benefit from having some points of lightness placed throughout their hair. It’s always a more youthful look, and everybody can wear it.”
“It’s all about imagination,” says Chabot. “From eyes to cheekbones to lips, you can have fun with changing the colour placement wherever you want. It’s about highlighting your client’s best features. Sometimes as hairstylists, we have the mentality of choosing for our clients. Strobing is about asking our clients what they want to showcase. It’s something more customizable for every client; instead of choosing for them, you’re choosing with them.”
Jessica Van Kuyk’s Top Strobing Tips
- Saturation: “Make sure you have a good saturation of the lightener on the hair, particularly when doing a balayage or surface technique. Otherwise you won’t get a sufficient amount of lightening. I recommend using Sunlights Balayage Lightener.”
- Depth: “Go through and do a two-point balayage and melt in between that with some depth with DIA Light from L’Oréal Professionnel. Between your two points of lightness, melt in the negative space of the demi-colour to bring some illumination to the strobing and add some warmth to the hair.”
- Add-On: “Whether a client is coming into the salon for grey coverage or global colour, you can incorporate strobing into your colour services. It can be as little as a 15-minute add-on time. For somebody who is doing a grey-coverage service and coming in every two or three weeks, strobing can really help soften out that line of demarcation so they can go to the four-week mark for their retouching service rather than the two- or three-week mark. For a base, highlight and lowlight strobing combination service, clients can come in every six weeks to refresh their tone and keep their hair shiny.”
Photos: Matrix Canada