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10 years ago, there wasn’t much difference from one person’s blonde highlights to another’s – the streak-like stripes all resembled something very similar. But today, there are so many shades of blonde hair and colour is applied using an array of different techniques. Highlights have become softer, more sophisticated and sometimes even invisible.
April Pattara, a senior colourist at Salon64 told us, “99% of my clients now ask me for some form of balayage. Rewind to 10 years ago and this would have been a very different story. London trendsetters are searching for low-maintenance hair which is why this kind of ‘highlighting’ has become such a huge trend. My millennial clients need to look good CONSTANTLY, everywhere you turn is a potential insta-worthy shot and no one wants to get caught by surprise with big roots.”
So, what are blonde highlights and how are they done?
Blonde highlights have actually been around for a lot longer than you think, for centuries women have used different ways to lighten their hair – from squeezing lemon juice all over to rubbing in honey.
Today, there are more advanced ways to lighten hair using hair dyes and bleaches, as well as a variety of different methods to apply this colour (but we’ll come to that later).
The first proper highlighting technique was developed in the Sixties, where clients wore a rubber caps with holes on, where locks of hair were pulled through using a hook (looked pretty terrifying, apparently never hurt) and isolated for bleaching.
The Eighties saw the introduction of the popular foiling method, where slices of hair were painted with colour and folded up into little strips of foil. The painting of the hair is still the most popular technique today, where stylists mix together different two or more different shades of colour to create the most natural-looking blonde highlights.
According to Pattara, “With the use of different lightening products and gloss, I am able to add dimension and texture creating a ‘lived-in’ colour. This multi-tonal technique makes even the finest of hair look full and volumised. It’s a simple way to create low-maintenance hairstyles, even on the worst of bad hair days you will still look effortlessly chic.”
Tell me about the different types of blonde highlights and colour techniques…
Full head of highlights
Pretty much what it says on the tin, where colour is applied to sections across your entire head.
Half head of highlights
This is normally spread over the crown and side, and usually the top layer of hair. A half-head is usually recommended for those with shorter or finer hair.
Babylights are when superfine strands of hair are coloured. It’s a technique that makes the hair appear multi-dimensional because of the gentle wisps of colour that are so micro, they’ll have everyone thinking you were born with it. No need to tell them otherwise.
Balayage is when colour that is painted on with a brush and paddle board to create natural, sun-kissed looking highs and lows – giving the hair beautiful dimension.
Pattara offers this treatment at Salon64 which promises to ‘transform Nineties highlights to a seamless natural look by adding a fake root and melting it into multiple blonde, brunette and even bronde tones so the colour ‘just happens’ almost as if you are using a blending brush to blur a smokey eye.’
The clue’s in the name – it’s the perfect merge of blonde and brunette shades, ideal for dark-haired clients wanting to go lighter.
This is French for tortoiseshell, so think more caramel, golden blonde highlight application where lighter colours are mixed with darker shades of honey, amber, and chocolate brown.
Can you do blonde highlights at home?
There’s a reason why there are colour specialists in salons, they’ve been expertly trained in mixing shades and tones together and they’re a dab hand at applying them using the most up-to-date techniques. We recommend always choosing to have your blonde highlights done in a salon. There are ways you can pre-long your colour at home by making sure you use special silver and purple shampoos and conditioners as well as regular leave-in hair masks and treatments and blonde toners.