In an undeniably bold and unfortunately not so flattering effort to make the sun-kissed blonde highlights I have always deeply coveted my own, I decided to go blonde a few years back. We’re talking full-on, yellow blonde root-to-tip chunky highlights that left me wondering if being blonde made me feel more confident or decidedly less comfortable in my own skin. The fact that it was a question probably should have told me everything I needed to know. After about a year of chasing the perfect Pinterest highlights and never quite achieving that ideal shade of cool and ashy blonde, I returned to my natural brunette color with a big sigh of relief.
My natural brunette color is undeniably more flattering against my pale skin and I felt like me again for the first time in a long time after dyeing my hair dark again. My appreciation for my dark color renewed, I swore I would never go blonde again. Cut to the start of this spring and I found myself flipping through old photos on my phone. Nostalgia tries to play it cool but if you flip far enough back into your photo archives, you’ll start to see things differently. The hottest summer days feel cooler in retrospect, your ex and all his agitating quirks seem less annoying when you haven’t seen him in a year, and you might suddenly start to remember your blonde hair as bold and flattering.
Rather than repeat the same mistakes over again, I turned to Renée Valerie, US Technical Education Director at TIGI Professional, and she worked some of her famous hair color magic on my strands. Valerie took me through a full color matching process to help me find the perfect Pinterest highlights for my features and I immediately fell in love with the results. Read on to learn more about the process and see how my color turned out:
The Perfect Pinterest Highlights for Me:
First things first, I found out the difference between ombré and balayage once and for all. These terms often get confused for one another and it was time to establish the differences. “When it comes to balayage the concept is to sweep and that’s when you get sort of a natural almost sun-lightened elements to the hair,” Valerie says. “In my opinion, people confuse the result of balayage with the technique. More people are wanting the result of the balayage that you see on Pinterest but you don’t necessarily have to balayage to get there or hand paint to get there.”
“I tend to use a lot more of a highlighting techniques because I can have a little bit more control but still give the illusion of that grown out natural result,” Valerie continues. “When it comes to ombré it’s basically a graduation of color. It’s a slow or immediate buildup from dark to medium to light. When we do ombré it brings the light so far down that it’s almost drawing down the face. The progression of all these techniques is more in lifting the face and contouring techniques so that the eye is drawn up towards the lightest part of the style. Instead of drawing your face down, you’ll lift up around your face.”
Finding out that it wasn’t just the blonde hair color that didn’t jive with me but also the placement of the highlights was eye-opening. Just like we play with color and shadows when doing our makeup and creating a contoured look, colorists do the same with highlights. “I do a lot of contouring and face framing techniques on my clients to give them a change while still staying in their comfort zones,” Valerie told me. “We want to frame the face while putting more depth at the back so the eye pushes forward to the front of the style.” Consider this color contouring technique like an instant facelift, using the lighter colors to draw the eye up.
As far as the particulars when it came to coloring my hair, Valerie used a demi-permanent dye to deepen the base of my style. When it came to the highlights themselves, she used more of a natural tone. “I used a golden natural tone because with your skin tone and complexion I didn’t want to go completely ash because I wanted a controlled tone,” Valerie explained. “The gold natural was able to give me a muted gold so it wasn’t brassy and rich but it still had a nice amount of controlled warmth. And that also gives it a nice amount of shine and blends any of the natural highlights that were coming through.” Editor’s note: ‘natural highlights’ is how Valerie refers to my premature gray hairs that were coming through in scattered places all over my head.
Post-coloring, Valerie used the new TIGI Copyright Colour range. This includes the repair shampoo and conditioner that are only available in salon now but will be available in at-home range later this year. “That’s my go-to for shampooing right now because it’s really color safe and color conscious,” Valerie says. She then used Copyright Booster, a treatment which was equal parts smooth and shine. This treatment will ensure that my hair stays frizz-free throughout the humid summer and infused my strands with lots and lots of shine.
Moving forward, Valerie stressed how important it is to use moisture-based products to keep the hair and cuticle moisturized and healthy for long-lasting color. Following Valerie’s advice, I’ve added Catwalk by TIGI Oatmeal and Honey Shampoo and Catwalk by TIGI Oatmeal and Honey Conditioner to my regular wash and care rotation to ensure the most moisture possible.
I’ve fallen in love with the combination of a deep base and strategic golden highlights and can’t wait to wear this style all summer long. The highlights are light enough to stop me from nostalgically missing my blonde hair and subtle enough to maintain the integrity of my natural deep color. Win-win, right?