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20 Jan 2017

Should you add color highlights to your or opt for the more popular option—balayage?

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January 20, 2017 Category: Beauty Posted by:

By Leah Fletcher


The reasons women get highlights added to their hair vary. Some women get them to flatter and highlight their skin tone. Some get them because they favor a particular color. And, then there are others who opt for highlights because they want a different look without completely coloring their hair.

For the past three years, Jessica Jenkins, an IT specialist, has added highlights to her hair.  “I think it’s a good look for me because the color isn’t drastically different from my own.” 

Many women like Jenkins are opting for highlights. However, they are selecting one of the hottest hair trends known as balayage, which leaves the hair with sun-kissed highlights of ash brown, auburn, chestnut and smoky brown.

“Balayage” is a French word that refers to the process of sweeping or painting color onto hair. This method of highlighting provides more natural results and requires less maintenance than the traditional foils squares used to apply color.

If you are choosing highlights, the overarching question is “What kind is best?”

There are basically four types of highlights: basic foil highlights, balayage or “hair painting,” chunking or “piecing” and low lighting, according to stylist Muriel Jones.

Foil highlights are the most traditional of highlighting methods. Foil highlights add strands of color to hair. You can obtain to five different shades in your hair for a more natural look.

Colorist Muriel Jones explains that balayage, or “hair painting,” allows a stylist to add natural stripes of color to your hair in large or smaller swaths. “This is best for women with a great base color who want to advance just a couple of shades lighter, says Jones, who notes that you won’t need to get roots touched up as much with balayage as you do foils.

Chunking (also known as piecing) is when thick stripes of color are painted onto the hair. It was popular back in the 90s and is experiencing a bit of a resurgence.

Lowlighting allows a stylist to add darker shades to hair. This technique gives color more contrast and dimension.

Jones always recommends getting a hair color consult with a professional if you aren’t sure what you want. “Bring along pictures of hair colors you like or want to achieve. Your colorist will know what to do and will be able to find the right shades of color to flatter your skin tone,” she said.

style_01-22-17aSM01During your consult, be sure to mention any other hair processing you’ve had done (think hair straightening using chemicals and at-home dye jobs). Even though salon hair colors are much easier on hair than box colors, you don’t want to over-process you hair. 

The question is a basic one: “Do I color or do I highlight?” the response, according to stylist Ron Stanley, is a very basic one. “If you have a great base hair tone, you’re better off with highlights. You don’t want to mess with nature; what you want to do is enhance it,” says Stanley.

“Here’s when to opt for single-process color: You want to go several shades lighter or darker than your natural hair color. Your base color washes out your skin tone or is drab,” notes Stanley.

Single-process color is less expensive than highlights, in Jones’ estimation. “Highlights look best when a stylist uses at least two different shades, says Jones, who believes more highlights around your face may brighten your complexion.

“With highlights, your colorist should be using more than one color, not just bleach. Great highlights should be layered to produce tonal variations. There should be lights, mediums, and darks to create depth and translucence in the hair. Highlighting should be like painting a masterpiece and you can’t do that with just one color,” says Stanley.

Both stylist advise you to keep in mind root growth, which will require the need for full color to be touched up every four to eight weeks, while highlights can last up to two or three months. They also encourage you to ask your stylist about a gloss treatment following your color. Gloss boosts color and makes hair shinier.

Women often ask Jones for advice about coloring their own hair. She understands that many are so busy that undertaking that task at home is their only choice. She recognizes that home color kits have come a long way in the past few years. “But, if you want a drastic change, don’t do it yourself. Definitely go to a professional,” counsels Jones. However, she says, if you are coloring/dying your hair two shades lighter or darker than its natural state, she believes you can elect to do your own color.

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