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Decoding Hairspeak: Your guide to current trends and buzzwords

May 5, 2017


Balayage . Ombre. Shadow Root. Color Melt. All these buzzwords get thrown around and you aren't sure what to ask for. What are these? What's the process? What does your stylist mean when she says needs to tone it? With the ever shifting landscape of hair trends and buzz words, it can get confusing. Let's break it down a bit.


Balayage (pronounced bah-lee-AHGE) is a hair painting technique. It comes from the French (don't they just give us the coolest stuff?) word for sweep-balayer. The lightener is hand painted on in a sweeping motion. This creates dimension and movement in the hair. It has a much softer grow out and is ideal if you prefer a more natural looking color with less upkeep.

Ombre (pronounced AHM-bray) is a graduation (gradient) from darker to lighter. Again, we have the French to thank for the term. It is most popular for blondes, but I have seen some gorgeous ones in blues, reds and other fashion colors. This is a great look for those with longer hair and want something different than regular highlights and packs more of a punch than the natural look of balayage. A sombre is a softer version of an ombre. Choose this if you like the idea of an ombre, but don't like the high contrast between the two shades.

Shadow Root-As the ombre trend dies down, this look is emerging more and more. A color close to your natural is applied at just the root area and blended into your blonde. This gives some depth and dimension to an all over color. Been getting a full foil for years and want to switch to a more rooted balayage look? Your stylist may employ this technique to make help make the transition! I personally love this look and do it in my own hair. It really helps extend the time between touch ups and gives my hair a softer transition between my naturally dark regrowth and my much lighter ends.


Color Melt-literally what it sounds like. Three or more colors within the same color family are melted together to create a color with lots of depth and dimension.  It's perfect if you want brighter shades around your face, but don't want the maintenance of highlights. This is also a great choice for brunettes or redheads who want to spice up their look without a dramatic change. 

Baby lights-my favorite way to do foils! Baby lights offer a more uniform highlight effect than balayage, but more subtle than traditional foil highlights. This is achieved by the stylist using a finer weaving technique and isolating fewer strands.  This results in a beautiful, less chunky all over highlight.

Let's talk toners and toning for a minute. A misconception I hear quite often (even in the hair community) is that if you have to tone, then the stylist must have done something wrong. Not true! Ok, so when lightener is applied to the hair, it is actually diffusing the pigment and exposing the underlying color. (Which is also why it is impossible for highlights to fade, but that's another post!) Hair doesn't lift pretty. Ever seen someone rocking that nice shade of blorange? That's because either the hair wasn't toned properly or the toner has faded away. What a toner does is cancels out the unwanted tones and refines to color you do want to see. It also fills in the cuticle, adds great shine and can even condition the hair. It completes the look and the service. Plus, I like to massage the toner into the hair, so my clients get a nice little treat.


The great thing about all these looks is that they can be combined (baby lights with an ombre? Yes, please!) to customize the right look for you. Get creative and let me know what your excited to try in the comments below!



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Decoding Hairspeak: Your guide to current trends and buzzwords

May 5, 2017

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