Making a Splash Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

Splashlights hair trend Caroline Polachek 2 Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

We’ve all seen those shampoo commercials—the kind where upbeat women prance around a city street or luxurious apartment with hair that’s ridiculously voluminous and shiny. There’s always that fun bit at the end, where they casually throw their hair over their shoulders and a blinding beam of light cascades down those perfectly styled tresses… to the maniacal delight of everyone around.

But forget whatever hair products they’re touting—what if you could have the same super-shiny hair all the time?

Well, a new hair colouring technique called “splashlights” could be your answer. Created by lightening a horizontal strip all the way around the hair, splashlights emulate the effect of beam of light hitting your hair. So it always looks shiny, no matter what the weather’s like, and whether you’re indoors or out.

Splashlights hair trend Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

The concept was conceived by colourist Aura Friedman of the Sally Hershberger salon in NYC (she works with M.I.A., Jennifer Lawrence, Sky Ferreira and Lady Gaga—no biggie), and word on the street is that it’s “the new Ombré.”

Via Aura’s Instagram (where she has posted more client examples):

Splashlights by Aura Freidman Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

Splashlights Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

The poster child for splashlights is Aura’s client, Caroline Polachek, lead singer for Chairlift:

Splashlights Caroline Polachek Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

Caroline Polachek splashlights Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

Caroline Polachek Instagram Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

It’s actually quite pretty, right? It really does have a brightening, almost angelic halo effect on her face. I think it suits her edgy style and her face shape, and then with the minimal makeup it looks quite sweet.

Jessica Biel recently showcased a much less dramatic interpretation of the trend, which would be the perfect subtle update on standard highlights or Ombré for anyone who doesn’t think they could pull off the rockstar version.

Jessica Biel splashlights Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

And then there’s this pretty girl, discovered on Pinterest:

Splashlights Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

Will splashlights suit you?

If you want the most dramatic “beam of light” effect possible, straight hair is the best texture to have. However, just like with Ombré, this also means the colour will have to be executed perfectly or even the tiniest flaw in application will be mega-obvious. Doing it on curly or wavy hair gives a softer, pretty look, as you can see on the girl above. (I’m not sure who this model is but she looks like a combination of Cara Delevingne and Sienna Miller, right—or is it just me?)

One other thing to take note of about splashlights is that they aren’t quite as versatile as Ombré and won’t suit every face shape. Women with round faces should probably be careful with this look, as depending on where it hits, the horizontal stripe can make your face appear wider. Oblong faces, on the other hand, will love this look as it will shorten length. Ovals, hearts and squares should also suit this perfectly as it accentuates bone structure.

What type of haircut is best suited to this colouring technique? Obviously, you want enough length to show off the strip of light, and ideally without bangs. As for colour, anything goes except for blondes—you want to at least be dark enough for the contrast to show up.

How to get splashlights

Like I said, this look requires complete precision or it will simply look like a hair dye disaster. As you guys know, I’m a huge advocate of home hair colouring, but even I would advise that you go to a professional! Bring in the pictures in this article to make sure you and your hairstylist are on the same page.

That said, I know some of us are simply too impatient to wait for a salon appointment and would want to do it ourselves anyway (I am generally one of these people!). If you feel confident enough to try this at home, enlist a friend with a steady hand to help.

  • Practise first on an under-layer instead of the top, so you can see if you like the effect before you commit to it, and it will still be completely hidden if you don’t.
  • Use your cheekbones as a guide for where to place the colour—this is a great spot for the splashlights to hit, as it will emphasize your bone structure and give you a little bit of softness around the face for that angelic ‘halo’ effect.
  • Get your friend to very steadily brush the bleach across the section, about 1-2 inches thick, leaving the ends out and making sure it’s even on both sides.
  • To avoid creating too harsh of a line, slightly feather the edges (see how Caroline’s isn’t completely straight but still has a definite horizontal shape?).
  • After processing, rinse and style and check if you like the effect. If yes, repeat on the upper layers of your hair.

The bottom line

Splashlights hair trend Caroline Polachek Move over, Ombré! Splashlights are the next big trend in hair colour

When I first saw the splashlights technique, I was slightly shocked, but this style is totally growing on me. I think you have to be the right sort of person—read: have a LOT of confidence—to pull off the fashion-forward version of this look, but if you choose tone-on-tone colours, it can also be super-soft and subtle. And unlike Ombré, you’re not gonna pass every other girl with the same hair as you walk down the street. (Not yet, at least.) This can be a great look if executed with the time and care it requires!

Have your say

Are you a fan of the splashlights colour technique?
Do you think the trend will take off or do you still prefer Ombré?
Spotted any other colour effects that you’re into lately?

37 Comments

Angela Bowery
Monday, December 2/2013 at 8:20 pm

The ombre was stupid and look like the wearer was lazy and didn’y care about their look but this stipey thing ABSOLUTELY HIDEOUS!!!!!!!!!!

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LayLow
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 4:48 pm

Yes! I concur!!

Ombre looked tacky and this stripey thing is UGLY.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:20 pm

I have to disagree, ombré had (and still has) a massive following and to me remains one of the most stylish, wearable and beautiful colour techniques to emerge in recent years. Maybe some people thought of it as low-maintance and carefree more than lazy? It’s definitely less expensive than being a committed blonderexic!

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Dana
Tuesday, January 28/2014 at 3:20 pm

Thomas, I agree and well said. I think the biggest problem with the ombré is that it LOOKS easy but you have to understand color and placement for it to look good. I think it’s gorgeous when properly executed. I will admit I’ve seen a lot more poorly executed ombré techniques than good ones.

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LB
Monday, December 2/2013 at 9:43 pm

So far, I think this looks really strange but I suppose that’s what some people first thought about ombrés? Will be interesting to see where this goes.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:08 pm

I agree! I thought the exact same thing at first but I have to say, it did grow on me… I don’t think it’ll ever have the same impact as Ombré did though!

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Sophia
Monday, December 2/2013 at 10:34 pm

Pinterest girl just looks like when you have dark hair and you try to bleach it at home, leaving you with orangey red ends and white roots. Count me out.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:14 pm

Its definitely not something that’s going to appeal to everyone… Having had the exact white roots/red ends situation you describe though I can tell you, I’d have MUCH preferred this even in my short hair!

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Ava
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 12:32 am

I’m not really feeling it. It looks kinda pretty on Jessica Biel but I think it is going to be very hard to pull off in regular life. Maybe it will grow on me eventually.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:10 pm

I feel the same… I think you have to have bags of confidence to pull this off in the Caroline Polachek form but the Jessica Biel version is much more subtle, very LA!

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Jillian
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 11:12 am

What an odd style. It wouldn’t work for me, but just wait until someone super famous tries it, and then it’ll be everywhere!
I think the photo of Caroline in the camo jacket works the best- it looks almost like a harsh flash hit her hair when the photo was taken.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:12 pm

You think so? I think I prefer the headshots of her, it looks more angelic to me in that light with the minimal makeup. The camo jacket shot is very indie rock though, more Caroline’s style maybe?

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Debbie
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 2:06 pm

REALLY do not like this. Looks like a horizontal skunk stripe!

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:11 pm

Thats exactly what my friends said! This is definitely a very divisive style…

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Courtney D.
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 3:33 pm

Not a fan personally. I think it’s harsh and looks like someone made a horrible, horrible mistake while coloring their hair at home. And I liked ombre (and had ombre) in it’s heyday!

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:22 pm

Haha thats one way to describe it! I must say, I’ve seen a few bad DIY home hair jobs that have left girls’ hair stripey in the back, but I think this maybe looks too intentional to come across as a mistake! Also Ombré will always be fab as far as I’m concerned :)

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LayLow
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 4:56 pm

This is a case of “Emperor With No Clothes”, or rather, “Celebrity With Ugly Hair”. Everyone gushes about how cutting edge and stylish it looks, when it really is hideous.

That is NOT the effect of light hitting hair. In what universe??

Call it what it is: a stripe of bleached hair with the rest of it looking lank and dirty.

Ugh.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:16 pm

Its controversial! I think this is going to be one for the fash-pack and the indie music crowd, maybe too dramatic to become a mainstream trend? Who knows, people always come up with ways to adapt and tweak a style to their own tastes!

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LayLow
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 5:44 pm

Yep, I can see how it’s edgy & controversial.

Very Lady GaGa!!

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Sara
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 12:02 am

I enjoyed reading about this and I actually like it. The comments are a little harsh. It absolutely works on the right girl. I’m just not cool or young enough!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 8:12 pm

Haha, I know – don’t get mad at Thomas, he’s just the messenger :)

I agree that this looks cool if you’re the right type of girl, but I know I’m definitely not :) I do love how Jessica Biel did it, so I’m looking forward to seeing the subtle version on more people.

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julia
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 12:03 pm

Lol, people are so funny. I guarantee everyone will change their mind about hating this in a couple months when it really become popular.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 8:14 pm

Yep, never say never in beauty – I’ve had to eat my words so many times!

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Meeka
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 2:54 pm

Yeah, I’m not a fan of this in the slightest. Maybe on the right girl with the right hair it would work, but I don’t think this is something that will catch on. If I saw someone walking down the street like that I’d probably be giving her odd looks trying to figure out what the heck she’d done to her hair and why. Oh well, if people weren’t willing to try new and strange things the world would be a boring place!

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Friday, December 6/2013 at 8:11 am

Very true, if everyone had the same hair and makeup this blog probably wouldn’t exist! How boring would that be?? :)

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Audrey
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 9:23 pm

I love Thomas’ posts!

Could you write about highlights/ adding dimension to dark hair? I know Michelle already wrote about double process color a while ago but I have seen so many hideous frosty highlights on dark hair recently and I think it deserves a post. Most girls I know with dark hair just kinda leave it alone because they don’t know what else to do color-wise. Is there a way to do multi-dimensional dark hair at home?

Sincerely,

Bored Brunette who (mostly) hates the look of visible highlights.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Friday, December 6/2013 at 8:10 am

Of course! There are a few great ways to add dimension to brunette hair without compromising the richness or depth of colour. I will do a post about this soon but just for the moment, have a look at this previous post – http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/09/13/over-ombre-hair-colour-follow-these-steps-to-go-back-to-the-dark-side-at-home/

Going one shade lighter on the ends is a great start for multi-tonal but natural looking brunette hair without the dramatic Ombré effect. Watch this space! :)

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Katrina
Wednesday, December 4/2013 at 10:28 pm

I think it’s cool! I’d love to see it with more subtle tones than the stark skunk-like contrast Caroline has going on.

Also, I feel like placement is key… the ‘beam of light’ effect seems most evident when it circles around the back of her head.

Great article, Thomas :)

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Friday, December 6/2013 at 8:15 am

Thanks so much :) Placement is definitely a major factor in the success of this style. Personally I like it when its around the bottom half of the face, when its too high I think it ruins it a bit! This is a great pic I found of a more subtly version of the splashlights, like you mentioned – http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/5e/de/09/5ede09fcc1ce82dba268bbf9e6b17d3c.jpg

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V. Singh
Tuesday, January 7/2014 at 2:24 pm

I personally LOVE it and I have never dyed my hair before, but I have an appointment at the salon today and I am going to request THIS.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Monday, April 7/2014 at 5:24 pm

How did it turn out? :D

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Monique
Friday, January 10/2014 at 11:57 am

I actually like it!! I was shocked when I saw the picture at first, but it’s growing on me fast! I would definitely consider trying this if it caught on!

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Dana
Tuesday, January 28/2014 at 3:30 pm

wow…I wonder how many on this post complain about clients who don’t want change? Or consider how criticizing someone else’s work and creativity feels. Hairdressers. We’re a funny bunch, aren’t we?

As far as the flashlights go, this isn’t new. We used to roll the hair on extra large rollers and add color only to the outside surface. Or paint color on to the outside of the curls on curly hair. OR use both warm and cool in a color pattern to create movement. Same idea. Add brightness to accentuate. Splashlights look a lot different when you’re only lightening a level or two or adding or removing warmth. I think if people play with color combinations a bit, they’ll find this technique extremley wearable. Is Caroline’s version of splashlights for everyone? Of course not. But look at Jessica’s hair. Hold that pic upside down and LOOK at the color. Just because we don’t have the same vision doesn’t mean a technique is useless.

I’m telling you, get out a mannequin or two and try this with a couple of shades of red or brunette. On the right haircut with the right placement, you’ll amaze yourself.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Monday, May 19/2014 at 5:18 am

Interesting that this has been done before – have you seen that L’Oreal is now pushing it with Poppy Delevingne? http://lorealprofessionnel.co.uk/products/haircolour/index-haircolour/poppy-delevingne/

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Essi Tyson
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 5:46 am

I fell in love with this as I first saw it yesterday, and am trying it next week. I’m usually not into trends, but found this really fun and exciting. Definitely doing it in such a severe manner, but still a bit more of a contrast than Biel’s.

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Comment Avatar Thomas Marrington
Monday, May 19/2014 at 5:19 am

How did it go? We’d love to see it!

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cayla
Wednesday, May 14/2014 at 10:22 pm

its ew

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