Coloring your hair can be SO confusing if you are new to the game. When women ask me if they should highlight or lowlight or neither, I literally have no idea what to tell them. And if the word, “balayage”, is thrown into the mix, I really don’t know what the heck we’re even talking about.
But I do know this: The worst thing for our hair is NOT knowing how to correctly communicate with our hairstylist about what we want. So, I interviewed top New York stylist (and our beauty contributor!), Stephanie Alina, to learn the ropes. The first thing I learned is that I’m not even using the right jargon….
AG: What is the difference between highlighting your hair and dying your hair?
SA: Let’s never refer to hair color as “dye.” You dye a t-shirt or an egg, you color your hair. Most women do not color their hair until they start seeing greys, unless they like to change their hair color root to ends. Most girls highlight their hair. This means that they add pieces of lighter color to the hair to add dimension and brightness. Balayage is the most popular form of highlight right now. Different variations of this technique can be customized to get your desired sun-kissed look. We have stepped away from the traditional art of back-to-back foils and now focus on a more multidimensional, natural, effortless look. Balayage also requires less maintenance because there is already a root exposed. As the root grows out it tends to look better and better, whereas traditional foils create a distinct line of demarcation. If your natural color is light enough and you have never colored your hair, this balayage technique can be done with color, not bleach, which has no damaging effects on the hair. If bleach must be used to achieved your desired look, make sure to hydrate your ends with routine glazes or hair masks and replenish oils with an oil treatment for Dark or Blonde hair. The proper oil treatment will rebuild your hair follicles with antioxidants and add a luminous shine to the hair.
AG: What are “lowlights”?
SA: Lowlights are the exact opposite of highlights. When you get lowlights, you add darker pieces of color to naturally light or pre-lightened hair to achieve more dimension or playful patterns in the hair. This technique can be used for blondes to break up the monotony, add depth, or to achieve the very popular unicorn hair. This can also be referred to as peek-a-boo or color blocking.
AG: What is “partial head” versus “full head”?
SA: Partial vs full head is precisely what it sounds like! Depending on a client’s desired look, a partial can be the crown (top of head) area and face framing. It could also be reversed to the nape (back of head near neck) area and face framing, depending on the shape of the person’s face. You may get a full head of highlights and lowlights if you want to be darker in certain areas and lighter in others.
AG: How do we know which option is right for us?
SA: The best way to know the right option for you is to have a picture ready for your stylist of what you want your own hair to look like. This allows for your stylist to have the same visual in their mind as you do, making sure that it is not a guessing game. Unfortunately, certain looks may not be recommended for your hair type. It is always best to consult a licensed hairdresser. In most cases, the difference between a partial or full head of highlights is the amount of brightness you want to see. The lighter and brighter you want your hair, the more highlights you will need on your head.
Andrea Graye :)