Take what you know about balayage, and in the words of Missy Elliot, flip it and reverse it. That's the concept behind the next big highlighting trend that's making its rounds on the Internet. The name speaks for itself: Instead of a darker base with painted-on, lighter highlights, or darker roots fading into a lighter gradient, reverse balayage focuses on painting on darker strands.
The balayage technique started picking up buzz after Deryn Daniels, hairstylist at Chrome Salon in Evergreen, Colorado, posted a pic of the look her Instagram with the caption, "In a world full of blonde balayage, be a reverse." As you can see from the snap, it features a rather dramatic bright blonde to brunette gradient. So theoretically, has her blonde roots grew in, the darker hair colour would continue to grow out at the ends, or get chopped off during a trim. But this is one example of how reverse balayage can be used.
In its purest, most subtle form, Tina Outen, a hairstylist for Streeters, says the technique is simply choosing a "deeper shade than the one you wear already" and painting it on freehand with a board. She says the darker strands that are painted should sit below and above the lighter sections, so it gives you a "smudged result instead of stripes." It's apparently an incredibly natural way to deepen your hair colour.
The way it's painted on, she says, should still give you plenty of root area untouched, so that your grow-out is incredibly natural. "The point is that you can grow your colour out naturally without the hard line, so it’s all your personal choice of what you’re looking for in your colour," Outen says of how often to visit your colourist.
However, there are some exceptions. If you choose to do more of a reverse ombré, there might be more touch-ups (and $$$) required–depending on your salon, geographical location, and your colourist's level of experience.
So will it replace your standard sun-kissed highlights? It's unlikely. In fact, this trend is more like lowlights, and one of the easiest ways to go dark if you're up for the change.
Regardless, if you want to hop on the trend before all your friends, the time is now.
This article originally appeared on InStyle U.S.