So you’re thinking of coloring your hair, but not sure where to begin? We got you, girl! With so many different types of coloring options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused, particularly if you’ve never dyed your hair before. While you should consider your base hair color and skin tone when choosing a color, you should factor in your personality and desired aesthetic when deciding on a coloring technique.
Keep reading to get the scoop on the 4 most popular techniques: highlights, babylights, balayage, and ombré, so you can head into your next coloring appointment with a clearer picture of your desired look.
What are highlights?
While highlights is often used as a catch-all term to describe any type of selective hair lightening (rather than a full head of color), it typically refers to the process of using bleach to add lightness and dimension to parts of the hair. The most common method of highlighting the hair used in salons is foil highlighting, whereby your colorist uses a brush to strategically apply lightener, using foils to separate the highlighted strands from your base color. While you can customize the number of highlights, where they are concentrated, and how light you decide to go, highlights (unlike other forms of coloring) go from root to tip, meaning the strands of hair are lightened from your scalp right to the ends.
Should I get highlights?
Along with giving the hair dimension, highlights make the hair appear fuller so they are typically recommended for people with thin and fine hair. They’re also great for people who are dealing with gray hair as they help make new growth less apparent.
From an aesthetic standpoint, if the 90’s pop star vibe is for you, or if you just like a more uniform, lightened look, highlights are for you. Just keep in mind that since they span from root to tip, you’ll need to visit the salon more often (generally every 2 months) to preserve the color and prevent your roots from showing. If you have a lighter base color, or if the color of your highlights isn’t too different from your natural hair, you may be able to go longer before booking an appointment with your colorist.
What are babylights?
Highlights’ subtler cousin, babylights adapt the same technique to create a more natural result. Like the name implies, babylights are meant to mimic the sort of dimensional color seen on children’s hair. Ever taken a look at a child’s cute little flyaways in the sun, or notice how their baby hairs are ever so slightly lighter than the rest of their hair? Well, that’s what this coloring technique is all about. Believe it or not, many women are known to bring their kid into the coloring appointment so they can communicate to their colorist what exactly they want.
Should I get babylights?
If you want to create a natural, sun-lightened effect and don’t want your color to look like it was created in the salon, babylights are worth considering. Best of all, since the technique uses sections of hair that are much smaller than is typically used for highlights, and since the outcome is so natural, you can really extend the time between appointments, perfect if you’re a low maintenance gal. Basically, if you’re into the no-makeup-makeup look, babylights are the hair equivalent.
What is balayage?
Popularized by the French, the word “balayage” translates to “sweeping” in reference to the long, sweeping strokes used to apply lightener to the hair. A hand-painted technique used to create a natural, graduated, sun-lightened effect, Balayage is meant to look effortless and lived-in. Colorists will customize the placement of the lightened strands, usually adding extra lightness around the face and enhance your features. Unlike highlights, which employs foil, balayage is a free-hand approach rather than a patterned color placement for a result that looks less uniform and more natural.
Should I get balayage?
While balayage can work for just about anyone, it’s especially perfect if your look is a bit more bohemian and effortless. Best of all, since balayage is meant to look grown out, you don’t have to worry about visiting the salon every 2 months for a touchup. In fact, you can extend the time between appointments to upwards of 6 months. So if you’re a low maintenance gal that wants to look like you just got back from vacation year-round, balayage is your best friend.
What is ombré?
Balayage’s bolder sister, ombré gives the hair a similarly grown-out look but with less of a graduated effect. Ombré hair is darker at the roots to the mid-lengths of the hair and lightest from mid-length to the ends. Although a similar painted technique is used as with balayage, with ombré, the light and dark strands aren’t as interspersed nd the demarcation is more apparent.
Should I get ombré?
If you like the look of balayage but want something with a little more edge, ombré is a good bet and similarly low maintenance. Whereas the balayage technique is traditionally meant to mimic the appearance of sun-lightened hair, ombré can be made to look more dramatic. It also takes less time to grow out since most of the color is concentrated to the bottom, so it’s perfect if you tend to change your mind often; you can just cut your hair rather than re-dye your entire head.
So what’s it gonna be for you? Let us know in the comments below which coloring technique is your favorite! We love hearing from you.