Overgrown roots have been an ongoing issue since the start of the COVID-19 salon shutdown, but there’s been a new trend that’s emerged amongst clients: Many are now intentionally embracing their roots. Whether it’s with a subtle contrast with shadowing or a bold and purposeful hue, colourists have the opportunity to transform naturally grown-out roots into looks that fall in line with what we’ve been seeing on celebrities, models and influencers as of late. “The trend of shadow roots has existed for quite a while,” says Roch Lemay, a Contessa award-winning colourist at Salon Pure in Montreal. “After quarantine, everybody had the opportunity to see their natural hair growth with their previously colour-treated hair, which created a natural shadow root effect.”
Out the Shadows
A shadow root visually creates a shadow (hence the name) with a subtly darker root on the rest of lighter-coloured hair, providing a natural look that can be obtained with just about any colour. “Shadow roots are the perfect segue into the new season,” says Jennifer Vermeer, owner of Fascinature the Salon in Hamilton, Ont., and a guest artist for Goldwell. “I can just do a simple overlay with Elumen and change the hair to a more vibrant or less vibrant shade, without losing any of the dimension they love and worked hard to get. I can just bring the tone down for fall/winter but keep the vibrancy.” What your clients will love about shadow roots is that the look is pretty low maintenance and can be a great way to embrace their natural roots growing back. When styled and maintained properly, it can be an effortlessly chic look.
EXPERT TIP: VERMEER ADDS THAT SHADOW ROOTS ARE A GREAT OPTION FOR TRANSITIONING BLONDES IN THE FALL AND WINTER SEASONS.
Go Bold or Go Home
For a more intense style, bold roots have become the “it” way to style and rock grown-out root. Inspired by the two-toned hairstyles from the 2000s, the look is characterized by the top of the head being a significantly different colour than the rest of the hair. Bold roots can be achieved when the client has a sizable amount of grow-out, by applying a darker or more vibrant shade at the root area, and keeping the rest of the hair a different shade. While shadow roots have a nice, blended effect, bold roots are intentionally not blended, giving them a bolder, edgier look. Since some clients may be tempted to go the DIY route, it’s important to remind them that although these services may seem easy to achieve, they need to be maintained properly for optimal results. “Colour is the fashion accessory you wear the most. If your clients want to create a fashion statement with their hair, you have to make sure they’re able to maintain it,” advises Lemay. “Any trend can be very nice and refined with maintenance and care, but can also look very cheap.”
“COLOUR IS THE FASHION ACCESSORY YOU WEAR THE MOST. IF YOUR CLIENTS WANT TO CREATE A FASHION STATEMENT WITH THEIR HAIR, YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE ABLE TO MAINTAIN IT.”
—ROCH LEMAY, MASTER COLOURIST AT SALON PURE, MONTREAL
While you can expect that more clients will want to go a more natural route, there are always some who will want to push the envelope, like singer Billie Eilish with her infamous lime-green roots. “We all love and hate this at the same time,” says Vermeer. “But you can always just change the colours. They can be black to blue or blue to black or a soft brown into a copper.”
EXPERT TIP: TO RESPECT THE CLIENT’S NATURAL HAIR COLOUR, LEMAY RECOMMENDS USING AN ACIDIC DEMI-PERMANENT TONER.
Whether it’s bold roots, shadow roots or anything in between, Lemay says it’s ultimately up to the colourist to recommend the best face-framing colour effect that suits the client in your chair. “Shadow roots are nice on hair that has movement, such as soft curls versus straight hair,” he says. “I adapt it to the client’s face shape, using a balayage technique on top and through the length of hair, along with babylights.” Remember this: Shadow roots are to create depth and a shadow on the hair, and bold roots give the reverse effect.
Shadowing vs. Melting
While they may look similar to a shadow root, a root melt or smudge has a more blended effect. It’s just as low-maintenance for your client, yet the result is more elevated and polished. “A smudge is a graduation from dark to light with a seamless effect,” says Lemay. “You’re bringing the highlights of the balayage closer to the scalp and implementing an intermediate colour between the natural and lighter colour, which creates a more natural look with more dimension.”
“I love not seeing the colour stop and start,” adds Vermeer, who’s a big fan of colour melting. While she prefers to colour-map the entire head (changing the client’s colour) before putting in a shadow root, she says there isn’t a wrong way to do it, and has also balayaged the hair while incorporating the client’s natural colour into the shadow root.