If, like us, you're constantly curing a Pinterest board filled with hair inspiration (just in case, you know?), then you'll doubtless have been won over by the balayage bob. Whether poker straight or teased into artfully undone waves, brunette or blonde, the ombré colour fade seems to lend itself irresistibly well to a shorter, shoulder-grazing hair-do - and plenty of A-list stars would agree. The likes of Lily James, Anne Hathaway and Alexa Chung (to name just a few) have all opted to add interest and definition to their long bob hairstyles with the placement of subtle balayage highlights, painted freehand towards the ends of the hair.
Ready to book an appointment? We consulted colour expert Christel Lundqvist, director of STIL Salon, to find out everything you should know before embracing the trend...
What should people with short hair bear in mind before opting for balayage colour?
Balayage looks great on hair that has a little length and natural texture, so if the hair is really short, there are other freehand techniques that can be used to better effect. If the hair is cropped, an all-over colour technique is often the best option to work with the hair’s length, shape and texture. However, it can look amazing on mid to long bob styles, as seen on the likes of Anne Hathaway, Lily James and Kate Mara.
Can you use colour to flatter your face shape when you have shorter hair?
As a general guideline, darker shades create strength and thickness, whilst lighter shades promote texture and lightness so you can definitely place certain shades around the face perimeter to either strengthen or soften someone’s complexion and features.
How much upkeep does balayage colour require?
There are many different colouring techniques and some of them require less up keep than others.Generally a colour needs refreshing between 6-8 weeks, especially highlighting techniques or all-over blonde looks. However, other colour looks are so natural looking that you can go longer in
Anne Hathaway and Kate Mara
Which products would you recommend for balayage hair in between salon visits?
If you have blonde hair and want to maintain its intended hue between visits, invest in a cool or warm blonde shampoo depending on your tone as that will cleanse and nourish, as well as adding tone to the overall colour while shampooing the hair. My favourite for cool blondes is TIGI’s Fashionista Violet Shampoo and Conditioner.
Can an ombré effect work on blonde hair as well as darker shades?
Yes absolutely, the principle idea of ombré is that you keep the root area darker than the ends, so this technique can work equally as well with blonde or darker hair.
What should I ask my hairdresser for to ensure the desired effect?
If you are going for an ombre effect, the thing to bear in mind is that this trend has softened over the years and there is a more seamless blend between the root area and length, so ask your hair colourist for a subtle fusion between the shades you are opting for. Also, tell your hairdresser
the natural fall of your hair as the technique applied can be altered to suit this.
What's the best way to style short hair with balayage?
Colour should always complement the hair cut so decide on this first and then the hairdresser can place the colour accordingly. With any colour you should be able to style it straight or with movement for it to look great.
Inspired to try balayage? Take a look at the gallery below for some short hair inspiration, courtesy of our favourite A-listers...
These loose, beachy waves are the perfect complement to Jenna Dewan Tatum's long balayage bob, with a subtle ombré from glossy dark brown to a redder hue.
Balayage looks particularly great on a tousled, textured bob, and Rose Byrne's 'do is a case in point. Take this photo to your hairdresser immediately.
Whether her hair is waist-length or shoulder-skimming, Jessica Alba can always be relied upon to provide balayage inspiration that's always on point. Here, her graduated highlights add interest to her sleekly styled bob.
Yes, supermodel Miranda Kerr can pull off just about every hair colour and style under the sun, but her current chin-length bob with subtle balayage highlights is super-flattering for her delicate features.
Alexa Chung was one of the first stars to pioneer the balayage bob. While she's gone through a number of variations of colour, length and finish, we love this glossy brunette shade with panels of warmer colour through the ends.
We're still reeling from the revelation that Emma Stone is not a natural red head, because auburn just looks so good on her. Here, she's broken up her colour with darker russet tones towards the root and lighter, strawberry blonde hues towards the ends.
Whether she's wearing a sleek, modern re-working of the A line bob or choosing a freer, more tousled style, Jordan Dunn's balayage chop is one of the most covetable in the industry.
Balayage isn't just for brunettes: just look to the ultimate blonde, Sienna Miller, for a case in point. The actress adds an edge to her tousled crop by opting for darker roots that fade into her trademark blonde shade.
Another source of hair inspiration for those who can't face committing to a more dramatic dark-to-light ombré effect is Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale, who adds definition to her choppy brown bob with subtle babylights framing her face.
Lily James has undergone several hair transformations since she first gained our attention as Lady Rose in Downton Abbey all those years ago. Her current shoulder-grazing, subtly ombréd bob is one of our favourite looks to date.
Now that she's grown out her post-Potter pixie crop, Emma Watson has opted for subtle balayage colour towards the ends of her long bob. We're sure Hermione would approve.
When she's not sporting Khaleesi's waist-length blonde waves, Emilia Clarke gives us some serious brunette hairspo with her low maintenance long bob.
Miley Cyrus isn't just about out-there colour and miniature top knots - she can also pull off classic glamour, as demonstrated by this 2012 snap, which shows off her brunette-to-blonde ombré chop, teased out in Old Hollywood waves.
If you're worried that full ombré is too much, look to Lily Collins for inspiration. The actress adds dimension and movement to her tousled chocolate brown crop with barely-there panels of lighter colour brushed through the ends.
Blonde-brown needn't be boring - just look at Kate Mara's simple but stylish angular crop with a subtle colour fade.
Rachel McAdams has experimented with her fair share of hair colours and styles since her breakout role in Mean Girls. We loved this subtle ash blonde crop, with brighter platinum tones scattered towards the ends.
While she may currently be sporting a dramatic bleached blonde crop, this subtle look from Kristen Stewart is one of our favourites in her hair history. The textured wave and subtly lightened ends add movement and definition to her chin-grazing crop.
Olivia Wilde's reddish-brunette waves are some of the most striking in Hollywood, but the actress can also pull off a shorter 'do with ease. For a case in point, see this subtle red-bronde chop, complete with a short, side-swept fridge.
Now that she's grown out her pixie crop (the result of a dramatic transformation for her Les Miserables role), Anne Hathaway has opted for subtle panels of blonde dotted through her naturally brunette waves.
Let's just take a moment to appreciate the wonder that is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's impeccably tousled, caramel-hued long bob, shall we?
Christel Lundqvist is director of STIL Salon in Notting Hill. 020 7243 1521. www.stil-salon.com.
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