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.
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):
The poster child for splashlights is Aura’s client, Caroline Polachek, lead singer for Chairlift:
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.
And then there’s this pretty girl, discovered on Pinterest:
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
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?