Testing the Trends of Time

Return of the Highlight

clockwise from left: Isabelle Marant, Isabelle Marant, Jon Reyman/Refinery29

clockwise from left: Isabelle Marant, Isabelle Marant, Jon Reyman/Refinery29

There are certain unalienable fashion truths that will stand the test of time. Greys, earth tones and dense fabrics will be in for the fall and winter. A bold lip paired with a clean, simple outfit (especially a little black dress… or gown) will be timeless and glamourous. White jeans will be chic for spring to late summer. Other looks, however, like exposed mid drifts, asymmetric mullet hemlines, and super high waisted denim shorts (read mom jeans with your butt hanging out) won't live up to the “timelessly classic” label. I happen to believe the same is true for what is happening with the hair on our heads.

While “current” is somewhat subjective, recently, color blocking, fringe, rich colors and looser shapes have all be important to what has been happening in fashion and in hair. There has been a pairing down, a refined 60’s meets 90’s grunge if you will. Hair is a little big and seems to be no fuss in its appearance, regardless of whether or not you've fussed over your perfectly disheveled locks. This undone, has become the new timeless in our modern era. 

If we think about all of this in terms of hair color, timeless hair is rich, saturated, glossy and multidimensional. Probably a lot like the 12 year old in your life who spends most of her time running around outside. Or the 15 year old cover model with perfect hair that you covet. Secret! It’s probably natural. Too bad we don't have time to run around outside, and those perfect baby hair highlights we had growing up have faded in the same proportion that we are increasing our eye cream use. I am fully guilty of the loss and the use. So lets cue the new trend word for bringing back beautiful hair. Babylights.

Yes, I said babylights. Hair that looks like a child’s, that isn't distinguishably highlighted but is. We get to say goodbye to the heavy progressive colors where hair was maybe dipped in a vat of color (ombre, hombre, sombre) as well as over saturated solid colored hair that is maybe your own or maybe a wig. Babylights. The return of the highlight and the ability to say you love Jennifer Aniston’s hair again because she really is the perfect example of undone hair in its colored and styled state. We, as stylists, won’t even be annoyed that you like her hair.

Jennifer Anniston, getty images

Jennifer Anniston, getty images


With these extra fine lighted tresses, there are a few key things that make them work wether you are going blonder, lighter, redder, or keeping your hair the same and adding interest. It all starts with the base hair itself. The hair color is rich. For most of us this doesn't come from our natural color and it doesn't come from just highlighting. Whether looking for platinum, butter, auburn, blush or a smoky brown, the hair has likely been colored and the highlights have been refined to seal the deal and to avoid that over bleached (ahem, in California we often say “beachy”) look. The other key component is that the highlights disappear as they approach the regrowth area, giving a barely there, I don't color my hair, appearance. Gone are the days of the fresh ribbon of color magically emanating from the head. 

Beautiful celebrity like hair isn’t going to happen from just highlights but is easy to achieve with your stylist. It may require a different approach than you are used to, and you should trust your stylist. There is more than one way to get there, papers, foils, balayage, free hand painting, or a combination. All are techniques, not looks on on their own. The look can be crafted many ways depending on what hair actually needs. Ultimately you'll find yourself going longer between touch ups because the look is so soft and your hair will be in better shape over the course of time. When you talk with your stylist keep a few things in mind.

    1. You want Babylights not streaks. Ask for very fine highlights and very soft appearance at the scalp area.
    2. Hair should be glossed with the highlights to enliven natural color (no problem if you're already touching up your regrowth) and the highlights themselves should be glossed post service.
    3. Don’t forget about the deep conditioning treatment, Jen doesn’t. Lightening removes protein and pigment from the hair. Making it more susceptible to all forms of damage and the treatment puts back most all of what the process removed.
    4. Gloss and tone fade. Come back to see your stylist in the middle of your color cycle to refresh the tone, get a great blow-dry and plan your next service. If you prebook, you'll never get to that day when you MUST have your hair done.

Diane von Furstenburg

Diane von Furstenburg

Even though on the west coast we may chose to ignore some of the old traditions of fashion--we wear white all the time and we will talk about how cold it is in a parka, flip flops and shorts--we know what great hair should look like in our low key, natural disheveled lives. Just like us.

-tjh