Disclaimer: This review appointment was attended before lockdown, when attending hair salons safely was allowed.
If you’re stuck in a rut with your hair RN, you’re certainly not alone. With the doors of our hair salons firmly shut for a few months longer (*sob*), we’ve taken our mane maintenance in-house: resorting to the at-home hair dyes we thought we’d left in 2012 and smothering our locks in tonnes of Olaplex No. 3 in a bid to sustain some sort of shine.
It’s likely you’re already dreaming of that first session back in your hair colourist’s chair, especially after last night's announcement. Hair salons are set to reopen on April 12th (assuming all goes to plan), so you're probably fantasising over what you might ask for when you’re finally in the hands of someone who actually knows what they’re doing – collecting inspo from your favourite celebs and knee-deep in the plethora of hair snaps on our Instagram page. But if your potential options span far too wide to know where to begin (colour blocking/buttercream blonde/mousy brown – we’re like kids in a candy store!), let me lend a helping hand.
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When I sat down in the *divine* Salon Sloane in London’s Chelsea just before lockdown 3.0, my hair hadn’t been coloured for a solid 10 months. On that occasion, I’d asked for some uplifting highlights and a trim – only to receive a choppy, block-colour blonde bob which didn’t do anything for my complexion or face shape.
Luckily, Sophie MacCorquodale – favoured colourist of Scarlett Johansson – was on hand at Salon Sloane after recently returning to the floor to reverse the damage. And that she did. She has worked for a whole plethora of fashion brands including Gucci, Chloe, Kenzo and Givenchy (as well as working her magic on models’ locks at New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks), so I knew I was in good hands.
She told me about a new hair colour trend set to take the salons by storm when they re-open Spring: the hair colour trend we're all going to be asking for. Straight from the streets of New York, it’s a natural colour technique which offers the impression your locks have been gradually lightened by the sun. Sans bleach. It’s seriously low-maintenance, it’s subtle and it lasts for MONTHS.
Presenting: new-wave balayage.
Balayage has had a glow-up for 2021. Move over OG balayage, because your cooler, younger sister is on her way.
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What is new-wave balayage? What is the difference between OG balayage and new-wave balayage?
"Balayage describes delicate pieces of colour painted on the surface of the hair," Sophie told me. Balayage is French for ‘freehand’, but that now conjures up the idea of "just the ends", she explained. New-wave balayage is an updated kind of balayage which means colourists work more in conjunction with the natural tones in the hair and look at what needs enhancing. It's much more of a visual technique.
With new-wave balayage, "certain areas remain soft and other areas have a pop of brightness/colour," Sophie said. "This creates a multi dimensional and tonal blonde that feels fresh and modern. Most peoples natural hair has lots of different tones, so we respect and enhance that."
Sophie continued: "It will be brilliant for people who have a lot of natural regrowth after lockdown and want to feel like they have been on a tropical beach for a few months."
It’s the real pops of brightness which move this trend on from more traditional forms of balayage. That said, there are some similarities. First up, just like its younger sister, new-wave balayage won’t lead to tell-tale roots or colour fades that it’s block-colouring counterparts will. The dye is still blended seamlessly throughout the lengths of your hair, more thinly closer to the roots and more densely at the ends.
What is the technique behind the look?
Sure, the difference between the technique of OG balayage and that of its stylish older sister is subtle – but the difference in results? Well: that’s something to shout home about.
"New-wave balayage is a visual freehand technique where there is no one 'rule' to creating the perfect color," Sophie said. "Instead, your colourist works to develop a bespoke colour and tone that is at once as effortless and seamless as it is unique."
Sophie continued: "It is a more modern approach to highlights and works on all hair colours. The finishing touches to this technique is very important as we personalise the tone of the hair, so it works with our clients skin tones, eye colour and dream shades."
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How often should I top up my colour?
The best thing about this hair colour trend is that you can get a top-up as regularly or irregularly as you’d like. In fact, the colour only gets better integrated into your natural hair as time goes on. It grows out making your hair look sun-kissed – which is something we’d all like a piece of, right?!
"It lasts so well because the colour is not all concentrated to the root area and it is ultimately enhancing your natural hair," Sophie said. "This prevents the the dreaded line when you roots grow in. In areas we work the colour to the root, but in other areas the colour starts further down the hair shaft, so you get a relaxed care free colour.
"Return to the salon when you feel you have lost a bit of sparkle. This could be after four weeks to freshen up or play with the tone of you hair, eight weeks to apply a few lights around your hairline or four-six months to freshen all the roots. As it is such a visual technique, I recommend clients keep watching their hair and if in doubt, pop in to see me.
"Im a big believer in beautiful, healthy hair, so I will always recommend what is ultimately best for condition, colour and care free chic hair."
What hair cut does new-wave balayage work best with?
"All hair, we apply the colour visually, so will make it work with all hair," Sophie said. "However, most of my clients who love this technique have longer hair and that can be layered or one length."
How can I maintain my new-wave balayage at home?
"I'm always a big fan of the Olaplaex range, particularly step 0 and step 3, which work on retaining the bonds within your hair shaft, so the structure of then hair and hair health is optimum," Sophie told me.
"Sisley Hair Ritual Colour Perfecting Shampoo prolongs and stops the colour from fading after repeated washes. Hair feels light, soft and shiny." Also, Sisley Hair Care Masque regenerates and strengthens damaged hair, leaving the hair feeling nourished and hydrated.
Any last tips, we asked? "L’Oréal Elvive More Than Colour Perfect Shampoo and Elvive Colour Protect Purple Conditioner will brightening and freshen up the blonde pieces," Sophie added. And L'Oreal Hair Expertise Pure Colour is great for hair that feels dry.
Where can I get it done?
With the dawn of post-lockdown life hopefully upon us, there is no better time to bookmark a brand new hair stylist and give yourself a trip to look forward to ahead of the summer. If you do, I’d urge you to visit Salon Sloane.
You can make a booking via their website www.salonsloane.com, email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call 02072590068.
For more from our Commerce Writer Sophie Cockett, follow her on Instagram @sophiecockettx.
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