It's no secret that the world — including me — is obsessed with achieving a summer glow right now. This year, brightening ingredient vitamin C has become the most sought-after in skincare, and tutorials mastering the art of dewy makeup are taking over TikTok. It was only a matter of time before haircare got the glow memo. Forget highlights or balayage, because 'glow lights' are about to become your must-have hair color.
Something about warmer weather makes me want to lighten my hair. After a long, cold winter, I always think that my hair appears so dark. A brunette by looks but a blonde at heart, I always ask for balayage at the salon as it strikes a balance between my two alter egos. That was until John Frieda's expert colorists Zoë Irwin and Nicola Clarke changed the game with this buzzy-new technique.
What are glow lights?
"Glow lights give you an amazing illumination that's instantly very youthful," explains Zoë. "Think of it as a mixture of beige and gold tones next to something ashier." These varying tones of blonde add a natural luminescence as well as dimension to the hair. It creates, as Nicola describes, a "beachier, surfy version" of the standard face frame and is softer at the top rather than on the ends, like a dip dye or balayage.
Kate Moss has been sporting this trend recently, most notably during her testimonial for the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. To my surprise, the model did not have a ring light in front of her face; instead, her visionary hair colorist Nicola illuminated each strand to mimic good lighting. "I wanted her to radiate that summer look you get when you've been on holiday," says Nicola. Emilia Clarke, another of Nicola's clients, has also been spotted rocking a full head of caramel-toned glow lights.
Are glow lights right for you?
If glow lights are good enough for the celebrities, they're good enough for me. What drew me to this trend is that the result is tailored to your unique hair color and texture. Zoë says that there is a "glow-up for everyone" and that the trend is bespoke to all hair colors, from blonde to brunette right through to red.
"The trend isn't about completely removing your natural hair color," explains Nicola, "but adding a more delicate blonde," which is peppered throughout the lengths. To achieve the look on Kate Moss, Nicola reveals that she merged varying tones of blonde for a Brigitte Bardot feel.
If you are blessed with curly or textured hair, Nicola says that the process is similar but involves studying which curls specifically need to be picked up. "We might concentrate the blonde more on the ends around the face," she adds. "You could scatter a few around the front and in certain points where the light hits, for example the hairline. Then you could tip the ends with blonde." According to Nicola, there isn't a texture or hair type that wouldn't look good with a glow light. Rest assured, this look really is for everyone.
What happens during an appointment for glow lights?
"I want to look like Kate Moss," I told my hair colorist, John Clark at Nicola Clarke at John Frieda. He knew exactly what I meant, having worked alongside Nicola and Zoë for years. But Nicola advises that bringing in images is always the best way forward, especially if you're wondering how to ask your hair colorist to achieve this look.
For my hair, John's color palette consisted of two blonde tones and two sheer glazes. He applied the blonde colors to dry hair around the perimeters, using the lighter of the two around my hairline. The darker blonde was reserved for the tips and throughout the body, and the color was teased into my hair using a backcombing technique. This is how you avoid the '90s, stripy look, Zoë explains. John was careful not to touch the top of my hair as he wanted to keep my brunette essence intact.
After sitting with the color for 45 minutes, we moved to the backwash. The glazes were then applied to clean, wet hair. Glazes are sheer, demi-permanent colors and John explained that using them is ''like adding lip gloss to lips." The glaze was left for longest on the roots to add depth and for less time on the hairline to keep it soft. John then rinsed it over the ends to create further dimension. Overall, the process took around two hours.
How do you maintain glow lights?
I am completely obsessed with how this look turned out. I have never taken my hair this light before — and it was scary at first — but I honestly feel like a total beach babe (and my inner blonde is thanking me). I'm really glad I did it. My hair looks radiant and the golden blonde has framed my face, softened my features, and brought out my eye color. In other words, it's enhanced my whole look, so it's safe to say I really have glowed up!
I was pleased to discover that the maintenance of glow lights is pretty simple. Nicola clarifies that she colors Emilia Clarke's hair with glow lights four times a year. "If you top up the color every six to eight weeks, it'll look consistently good," she says. If you are like me and tend to color your hair only once or twice a year, John assured me that I could leave it to grow out and it would continue to look fresh. With regular moisturizing hair treatments, my hair is set to have a lasting and healthy, sun-kissed glow.
Thanks to its unique tailoring to your hair color, I think glow lights is the perfect way to enhance your natural hair and achieve a gleaming result that you can be really happy with for months on end. Take this as your sign to give it a try this summer.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.