Lighten up - a new hair colour for spring

Balyage is a colouring technique that precludes the need for foils or a cap. Jenny Mark-Bell visits Electric Hairdressing for an updated spring/summer colour.

As any lady who dares to go fair will tell you, highlights are a considerable commitment. I first lightened my locks around 14 years ago, and I’ve been topping up my colour ever since. For a fairly low-maintenance lady, that’s a lot of hours spent in the hairdresser’s chair.

So the idea of balayage appealed to me. This is a freehand colouring technique that is linked in most people’s mind with the trend for dip-dyed hair – a flattering, user-friendly look that’s great for lazy girls. Roots aren’t an issue because they are part of the effect.

I have come to Electric in Brighton for a new spring/summer look. Principal Stylist William Ackerley of the salon’s Art Team fills me with confidence. He is a passionate hairdresser with an easy working knowledge of catwalk trends and how to translate them for his customers. It is important to be able to trust your stylist’s instincts and I am more than happy to give him free rein.

William is using two L’Oreal colours, a Dia Richesse ammonia-free semi-permanent colour and Platinium pre-lightener. The semi-permanent colour will ensure that when my roots appear, there will be no dramatic line. For this reason, balayage colour is low-maintenance and, unlike most highlights, there is no need to keep dyeing the same hair. When I’m ready to have my colour freshened up it will require just application to the roots – great for the time-poor.

The experience is very different to traditional highlights, which anyone who remembers the discomfort and indignity of cap highlighting will welcome. Instead of using foils, Will paints the colour directly onto my hair freehand, which allows for greater subtlety and blending.

First, Will paints on a warmer version of my natural dark blonde. My considerably grown-out roots are extended to ear level which, when combined with the cool light blonde that will colour the lengths, will give a fashionable dip-dyed effect.

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Will uses a brush to apply the root colour, ruching the hair by backcombing to ensure a blended colour. He then paints the pre-lightener onto the lengths against a rubber paddle before using a dry brush to give a natural, blended effect. Will’s interpretation of this trend is an updated version of the dramatic looks seen in autumn/winter collections where rich chestnuts segued into vivid copper.

The colour takes 30 minutes to develop, by the end of which I am itching to see the finished look. My hair is bathed in a nourishing Kerastase treatment, restoring vitality and shine, before I get to take my first peek. Thanks to William’s painterly ministrations, the colour is both striking and natural. The golden, reddish hue of the root colour is beautifully complemented by the cooler blonde of the lengths.

William finishes by styling my hair into big, bouncy waves. “It’s expensive-looking hair,” he says approvingly. And so it is. I almost feel moved to take it out to dinner and the theatre. Like the best transformations, this is subtle – I don’t feel like a new woman but simply a marked  improvement on the old one.

Balayage colour with a cut and finish from a principal stylist costs from �158.

Electric Hairdressing18 Ship StreetBrightonBN1 1AD01273 202088electric-hair.com  

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