These Hair Color Trends Are Going To Be Huge

We're not sure if it's the plummeting temperatures, the chunky knits invading our fave stores, or the foliage porn all over our Insta right now, but we're feeling all kinds of fall. And a new season usually sparks a kind of Pavlovian response in us toward changing up our hair. New cuts, yes, but mostly color — all of the color. Don't get us wrong — we don't subscribe to the whole "a new season requires you to go darker/lighter/whatever-er." You go ahead and wear any effing color that makes you feel purty, seasonal mandates be damned. No, we're talking about embracing the spirit of the changing seasons, and all that new-beginnings jazz, by spicing up your strands.

Well, thanks to a recent boom in downright nifty coloring techniques, there's no better time than the present to get your 'do did. Crystallizing, rooting, whispering — there are so many cool new trends to try. Best of all, they work for all types of colors and needs, whether you're a rainbow-hair fan or a die-hard brunette.

Now, because I know some of you are going to say it, yes, these are all variations on existing techniques that have been given clever, catchy names. There is, after all, only so much you can do with bleach. But it's the ways in which these techniques are modified and applied that makes them fresh and exciting. Says Jack Howard, a London colorist and the man behind the babylights and ecaille frenzies, "There are only [so many] colors. What we’re doing by tweaking and playing and modernizing [those techniques and colors] is moving forward."

He notes that getting creative with existing techniques and using new terminology to describe them helps clients and colorists communicate better. "These names speak much more clearly than the [standard terms] — tint, single-process color. If you go in and ask for babylights, your colorist will know you don't want a chunky highlight. It’s like designer clothes — you want to say what you wear. If it’s got a name, they can identify it."

Adds Johnny Ramirez of Beverly Hills' Ramirez|Tran Salon, "​It's great for consumers to educate themselves on these techniques, because as a paying customer you should go in and know more information about what you want, so you leave 100% satisfied with the results. To ensure you leave the salon happy, you need to be able to communicate with your stylist."

Ahead, the nine coolest techniques we've seen lately. Bookmark this to send to your colorist — you're going to want to take these for a whirl.

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Photo: Courtesy of Aura Friedman.
Opal
Created by Aura Friedman — the patron saint of unicorn hair — this jewel-inspired trend is meant to mimic the multifaceted color of an opal. Says Friedman, "I've always played around with variations of color, like being able to see different shades when the light hits in different ways."

Friedman notes that getting this kind of result requires dyeing the hair platinum, which she says adds sparkle to the colors. "These tones tend to be on the darker side," she explains. "They have a silvery sheen, but the reflective colors are all in the pastel family."

This trend requires LOTS of laborious hand-painting, and unfortunately doesn't last very long. But for those of you who don't mind constant upkeep and salon visits (we know you exist!), this could be perfect. For everyone else, well, it makes great eye-candy for your unicorn-hair Pinterest board.
Photo: Courtesy of Johnny Ramirez.
Lived-In
For those of us who don't want our hair color to grow out janky, but don't have the time or $$$ to get to a salon for regular touch-ups (so...everyone?), this technique is the new go-to. Conceived by Ramirez, the lived-in trend is neither balayage nor ombré, but rather a subtle way of highlighting the hair, he says. To us, it looks like what would happen if bronde, ombré, and balayage had a threesome.

Says Ramirez, "It's a blend of colors [applied] as I highlight the whole head — lift or bleach the hair, deposit color, add a gloss, and take the time to create a fake root. ​You will have a blend of colors next to each other, from ashy to blonde to brunette, as this is what gives it that lived-in color look.​"

The effect is "comfortable yet sexy; being put-together without looking like you tried too hard," Ramirez adds. He says the color can last up to six months (!), provided you don't have grays.
Photo: Courtesy of Aura Friedman.
Oil Slick
Another multifaceted hue dreamt up by Friedman, oil-slick color is "inspired by the shiny, iridescent reflection of the mixture of oil, gasoline, and water." Not exactly the loftiest of beauty inspirations, but who among us hasn't been mesmerized by those abalone-esque puddles?

This one is for dark-haired ladies, and is created by taking all of those colors you see in an oil slick and layering them throughout the hair, says Friedman. "It gives an illusion of reflecting different colors from different angles." Bonus: You don't have to lighten your strands to get the effect. Good news for anyone with a bleach aversion. The trend is still evolving, so watch Friedman's Instagram for more cool iterations.
Photo: Courtesy of Karine Jackson.
Saturn
Consider this the more avant-garde cousin of ombré. Inspired by the rings around, you guessed it, Saturn, this trend features a lighter hue that encompasses the center of the hair length.

Dreamt up by U.K. stylist Karine Jackson, the style can go bold — like on the model pictured here — or subtler. "We did something very striking here, but we tone it down in the salon — we use one or two shades lighter [than your base shade], which gives a subtle little feature to straight hair," she says.

Jackson likes the technique because it allows those with straight hair to try something different, without getting a haircut. She cautions against going in the opposite direction — dark on light — because it can "look a bit like a home dye gone wrong. Blonde hair with dark rings around it looks cheap."
Geode Hair
Pretend for a second that lived-in and oil slick hair had a baby — because it perfectly describes the latest L.A. hair trend, cracked open by in-demand colorist Cherin Choi. Done mostly in shades of purple, geode hair is a two-color look that grows out with the ease of lived-in color, with the impact of rainbow hues. As you can see, the dreamy, iridescent amethyst shade looks like a sparkling gem when it catches the light.

Luckily, it only looks complicated. Choi starts by lightening her clients hair from the bottom up, without bleaching the roots. "The lightened hair is lifted to a pale yellow, then is toned to a blondish white using Redken Shades 9v/clear to eliminate yellow," she told us. "The hair is completely dried, then the amethyst purple is applied on the mid sections, then the moonstone blue onto the very tips." Here comes the trick: "I use a brush and emulsify with my hands to blend the colors." This makes the grow-out process completely painless.
Want to see this trend in action? Guy Tang used his own new line to craft a bright blue and teal look.
Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory.
Crystallizing
This technique, a signature of Hairstory colorist extraordinaire Roxie Darling, is exactly what it sounds like. "It makes it look more like a crystal...it's sparkly, it's shiny, it reflects and deflects light," says Darling. "So when you crystallize a color, it makes it more light-reflective and shinier as opposed to leaving it pastel. Crystallizing is used to add more saturation to the color — to give it a fancier finish than it just being a matte, dry color."

To get the look, Darling bleaches hair and then adds the base color (or colors). Once it's "cooked," she washes hair with a cleansing cream (so as not to dilute the color) and applies a gloss. She lets that set, then rinses it out with the cleansing cream again, and then adds another gloss — or what she calls the topcoat. This counteracts the "flatness" that comes with dyeing the hair — a counterpoint to its increased porosity.

The gloss is super-important, notes Darling, because the chemicals used to lighten hair can leave it looking matte. She says you can use a clear or colored gloss to get this look. She likes mixing light-purple and yellow to create a beige gloss for a raw, crystal effect.

Now that pastel hair has gone mainstream, says Darling, crystallizing is perfect for people who want a more sophisticated version of a color that's not necessarily natural. "You can't go to your hairdresser and ask for blonde, crystallized highlights. That term doesn't necessarily apply to that technique," she says. "It's more to actually add that certain sophistication that jewels and crystals give to [colorful shades]."
Photo: Courtesy of Karine Jackson..
Floodlights
Forget highlights — floodlights are about to be your new go-to. Created by Jackson, this spin on an existing technique makes hair look perpetually sunlit — or like there is a spotlight on your head adding shine and dimension.

Howard says that instead of following the usual process of tint, rinse, then highlights, the colorist applies the highlights directly on top of the tint — no rinsing in-between. "[You] apply tint all over the hair, because when you put the highlights through straight over the tint, [You] get the tone of the tint as well — so it's like when a light hits your hair."

He notes that this not only looks cool, but helps you get in and out of the salon quicker since there's no intermediate step. "These days, you want to be in and out quite quickly. My clients are constantly asking, 'What can I have that’s different?' and it’s nice to have a subtle change and still feel different."
Photo: Courtesy of Jack Howard.
Tri-Color
Inspired by the natural dimension of children's hair, tri-color is just what it sounds like — three distinct hair colors. "If you look at a child's hair, it’s [often] light through the front, a bit darker in the middle, and darkest at the nape," says Howard.

To re-create this on adult hair, Howard uses an all-over color to make the area around the front of the face (from ear to ear) the lightest. Then, he gives the area just below that to the back occipital bone a dose of color a quarter to half a shade darker. Finally, he makes the nape a quarter to a half-shade lighter than that. Howard says the effect is meant to be subtle and natural — like you were born with it. The desired outcome is hair that transitions seamlessly between shades without any noticeable line of demarcation.

"So many colorists are doing something similar [to this], already making parts lighter, so this is just about taking it another step further," says Howard. "We're not really reinventing the wheel — just adding a spoke to make the wheel run faster."
Photo: Courtesy of Chad Kenyon.
Shimmering
Bored with your usual balayage? Colorist Chad Kenyon has the solution for you: color-shimmering. Kenyon says the technique evolved from working with clients who came in for bright-blonde highlights and color, but who also wanted something fun and customized.

"I color hair with the mindset of a makeup artist, in that I choose tones and placement that will enhance your best features and skin tone — while [I] simultaneously diffuse or 'pull focus' from those features you're not 'obsessed with,'" explains Kenyon.

Kenyon says he works mostly with coral, rose-gold, lilac, and pearl hues, which correspond to those common tone descriptions — golden, warm, ashy, and icy.

For example, "rose-gold shimmering can be beautiful, unless your skin is naturally quite golden, in which case rose-gold shimmering would really wash you out or diminish balance visually," says Kenyon. "It's all about painting in shimmers of tones that are becoming and flattering."
Photo: Courtesy of Kari Hill.
Rooting
Forget everything bad you've ever heard about roots — the modern colorist knows that roots are actually an under-the-radar way to make your color look on-point. At least, that's the theory behind rooting, a technique colorist Kari Hill has been using at Mèche Salon in L.A.

Hill says that post-highlights, she rinses the hair and then goes over the roots with a semi-permanent gloss to tone down the color. "It's like someone taking the foam applicator of their eyeliner and 'smudging' the line to blend and lose the obvious application. It's a melting of the tones, so the color 'just happens,'" she explains.

By delicately hand-painting a faux shadow on the roots, she creates a dark-to-light gradation that looks way more natural than straight-from-the-roots highlights. "When you root with the highlight, it is a more subtle or soft effect — you don’t really even know it’s there," Hill says. She stresses that it's not ombré, as "ombré usually starts around, depending on the length of the hair, a few inches up from the bottom...and creates a very distinctive dark-to-light look. Rooting is just a subtle little glossing right at the root."

Hill acknowledges that going in for a highlight and then darkening the hair seems counterintuitive, but says the effect is chic, modern, and complementary to clients' skin tones. Plus, it "buys you more time" between color appointments.
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