Today, highlights are nothing like the chunky stripes you had back in high school. If looking back at your yearbook photos has traumatized you enough to swear off highlights, the color technique of adding dimension to your hair has come a long way since the afternoons you spent at the salon with your hair wrapped in foils.
Following in the footsteps of ombré and balayage is colour melting, an even more subtle approach to highlighting your hair. Unlike balayage, this technique doesn't use two colors. Instead, the colourist will add more of one to create a seamless finish.
This [colour melting] is similar to regular balayage only with an added color melt or root-fade done after," explains celebrity hair colorist and Olaplex ambassador, Chad Kenyon who works with Ashley Tisdale and Rachel Keller. "With the melt we’re not so interested in having those stark 'pops' of light around the face. They’re there, but instead of being so obvious they're underneath the color melt in a more iridescent, glowing way."
"I first make sure that the face-frame is completely balayaged and 'light' because this ultimately gives a super fresh look by lighting the face with visual upward mobility," says Kenyon. "It's strobing on the hair (think makeup contouring with light, not dark for the hair). Next, make sure that I balayage the mid-lengths and ends to create a super sun-kissed look with fewer threads of light toward the base/roots." Once the balayage is complete, he goes in to apply the colour melt. He finishes by rinsing the balayage lightener, and applying a shade between the roots and top balayage shade at the roots. "I leave it on for three to five minutes and take my special Goldbrush and Brush the applied color through the client's hair to the ends."
The technique, which works well on all hair colours, is the *perfect* option for freshening up your highlights for fall'a transitional weather because of its soft, warm finish. " A lot of my clients don't want to do balayage right away after the summer," says Kenyon. "I can simply do a color melt, which melts the root into the top part of the balayage, and it buys us some time. The deeper root also is a nice, soft, alluring look for fall-winter."
If you want to give colour melting a try this fall, ask your colorist for the highlighting technique by name, or a shadowed-root. Bringing along reference photos will also help your colorist understand the exact look you're after.
Even better: maintaining colour-melted highlights is just as effortless as the dye job looks. Kenyon says to run a dry oil through your strands every time you moisturize your face, and to reach for dry shampoo instead of over-shampooing your hair, which can lead to fading.
He also recommends spritzing one of his Ombré Highlight Sprays (available at Ramirez|Tran Salon in Beverly Hills) to boost your color. "You can spray in your own color melt along with a blend of argon oil, Moonstone Extract and other hair-nurturing ingredients that will keep your hair hydrated and shiny even after you shampoo away the shimmery, glistening color melt," he says.
This article originally appeared on InStyle U.S.