Carin Freidag started with Clairol answering questions on the brand’s hotline 35 years ago; she fell in love with hair colour, and secured a full-time job with the company. Now, she runs Clairol’s Global Retail Hair Education program. With balayage, ombre and all-over highlights trending this fall and winter, we picked Carin’s brain about the ins and outs of all three styles. —Noa Nichol
Balayage is trending in hair, big time; why is it so hot right now?
Balayage is the art of painting on highlights as opposed to the foil technique. This type of ap-plication provides a more natural result overall since it is generally applied to the top surface of the hair instead of going all throughout the hair and underneath; think of it as how the sun hits your hair. It offers so much versatility to women to create many different looks.
What about ombre? How does it differ than balayage?
Think of ombre as the final look, where as balayage is the way to achieve it.
That said, what’s involved in achieving balayage and ombre?
For balayage, you want to work with how you normally style your hair. For instance, where you normally wear your part. You also want to decide how heavy or light you want the final effect to be so you know where to place the lightener if you are doing it on your own. If you’re doing it on your own I always recommend doing a trial run with a thick conditioner first so you can get the feel of how to use the brush. For ombre, the overall effect usually starts at the chin if you have long hair and the ears if you have shorter hair, with a little piece framing the face. The key in either case is to create a soft transition from the natural hair to the full ombre, other-wise it will look like you just have grown-out hair colour. The technique to use is to lightly apply the lightener in tiny strokes called feathering a little above where you want the more solid om-bre look to be.
Can we do it at home ourselves, or is this an in-salon job?
You can do it at home! At Clairol we offer a balyage kit, one for blondes and one for brunettes. We provide everything you need for an easy DIY experience, including instructions for how to achieve three different end looks: ombre, babylights and all-over highlights.
Let’s talk about all-over highlights; how is this look achieved?
All over is a way to get a more solid colour look. In addition to using permanent colour, you can get an all-over look in two ways: by using highlights or an on-the-scalp lightener. When high-lighting, you either do a very heavy placement in foils, with balayage or pulling through most of the holes in a highlighting cap. This is great for people who want to be blonde but may have a scalp sensitivity so can’t use permanent colour. When using an on-the-scalp lightener, it’s applied the same way you would a permanent all-over colour. This has the ability to lighten more than a permanent colour.
Your top maintenance tips for balayage, ombre and all over?
Keep your hair conditioned! Lighteners are strong products that make the hair more porous. In the Clairol balayage kit we provide a dedicated conditioner in the box that’s designed to work on porous hair, creating a smooth surface that lasts through three washes. In 2022, we’re coming out with RepairPlex, which restructures the hair on the inside. If you are getting your hair done at the salon, ask for a plex or bond rebuilding product to take home. Another tip is to be gentle with your hair. This is really important if you pull your hair back in a ponytail. Try not to make it too snug on the hair and change up the position of where you put the ponytail other-wise it may cause breakage.
Any other hair colour trends on your radar for fall/winter?
One of the biggest trends I’m seeing is the return of the “money shot”—but in a very bold way! That is the chunk of lightened hair that comes off the part by the hairline, down through the ends, with very little or very subtle other highlights in the hair. This look works on all starting hair colours. It can be subtle or bold, blonde, copper, gold—whatever you want—and it draws the eye right to the face. This is the perfect trend to use balayage for! A secondr trend is “bronde,” which is the shade right between the transition from brown to blonde. This can be an all-over shade effect or with some highlights in a warm or neutral tone. It looks flattering on all skin tones and ethnicities and it’s looking to be big this season.