We tried ‘hair contouring’ to see if it lived up to the hype.
The whole ‘contouring’ trend is getting a bit much for me, to be honest. Sure, I’m on board with cheek contouring – I’ve seen makeup artists and vloggers perform borderline miracles with some matte bronzer and a highlighting cream. But once it moved to stomach contouring, leg contouring, and so on… it became a bit ridiculous and was dead to me.
I heard of ‘hair contouring’ through the internet – it’s a trending colour technique that took off overseas. The premise is this – strategically placed highlights are supposed to slim your face, emphasise cheekbones and accentuate your best features. I was sceptical – “this is stupid!” I said in my head, “you can’t bloody contour hair!”. Buttttt it was trending and since we at Primped are all about giving you some real-girl realness when it comes to weird new beauty trends, I decided I’d have to try it.
I headed to Edwards and Co, where colourist Kathleen Tompkins got to work with this whole ‘contouring’ thing. I asked her what it was actually about.
“Hair contouring is actually a form of balayage,” explains Kathleen. “Modern balayage is more about giving a sunkissed look than just dipped, contrasting ends.” Basically, instead of doing the ‘brown on top/blonde on the ends’ type of balayage, hair contouring is softer and more graduated. “If you look at celebrities like Jessica Alba and Sarah Jessica Parker, they’re doing a version of hair contouring with their colour,” Kathleen said.
I took in a bunch of pictures of different celebs and Pinterest pins showing the kind of shade I wanted – I did NOT want to be blonde, not out of hating blonde or anything, I’ve just been a blonde before and it didn’t suit my skin tone. Kathleen promised I would remain a brunette, but with coppery, kinda-brown-kinda-blonde highlights. “I’m going to highlight around your cheekbones, because you’ve got great ones,” she explained. Um, yes I will take that compliment thank you. “I’m not going to touch your base colour, because I think it’s good to work with what you already have.”
Kathleen used Lakme K-Blonde for my highlights, painting it in freehand. Because it takes me 400 years to understand new things, Kathleen tried to explain the hair contouring look in laymans terms to me. “Imagine a little kid, who’s never had hair colour done before,” she began. “You know how they have the sun-kissed pieces of hair around their face, but the underneath is still dark? That’s what we’re going for. It’s like the sun actually lightened your hair naturally.”
It finally made sense to me. When I was little, I wore my hair in a ponytail all the time. So the front framing pieces of my hair lightened naturally in the sun, while the rest remained dark. This is basically that technique, but with more consistency so the hair isn’t like “blonde in the front, dark in the back” like some sort of terrifying hair colour mullet.
Once she had finished with the highlights, Kathleen left them to develop for a while. I got really deep in some Facebook group chat drama, so I barely noticed the time. She then took me to the sink, where she rinsed out the K-Blonde, and added Olaplex. Olaplex is interesting – I always thought it was a lightening product, but it’s actually this amazing treatment that in the past was always mixed with lightening products to protect the hair during the process. Kathleen explained she likes to use it as a post treatment. I was still going with my group chat so I literally lay back in the sink and held the phone over my face, typing away like a total Gen-Y, Millennial stereotype.
The finished result surprised me. I’m a complete control freak who panics at every hairdresser visit, and even though I trusted Kathleen to make my hair look GREAT, I still thought she was going to make me blonde. But she hadn’t – I was left with this perfect, sunkissed coppery brunette colour.
I’m not sure that it gives me killer cheekbones, but it definitely brings the focus to my face, because the colour is warmer in the front section.
I really like how the colour suits my skin tone, it makes me look a bit warmer than my old colour. Like I have a subtle tan, even when I don’t. I liked my old colour, but it wasn’t until I had this hair contouring one that I realised how mis-placed my lighter pieces were before. You know how that happens when you go to the hairdresser?
Verdict? Hair contouring is really just smart highlighting, keeping in line with the modern balayage trend of natural, sun-kissed hair as opposed to dramatically blonde ends. But, fad or not – it’s a fantastic look, in my opinion!
This story was originally published on primped.com.au
September 19, 20164:15pm