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Balayage? Ombre? Highlights or Babylights? Sometimes it's difficult to know exactly what you want or need when it comes to your hair color. Melanie Scheel of @the_balayage_mermaid created this handy guide so you know just how to communicate with your stylist and get the color you want! 

Summer and the warmer months will be here any minute, which means it's time to lighten up now! Whether you're already a professional blonde or just getting ready to dip your toe in the blonde pool read on to find which kind of blonde is best suited for your lifestyle.

The Blonde Guide: What To Ask For In The Salon

1. Highlights & Base:

This is the highest maintenance blonde option (next to on-scalp platinum). It includes a heavy full foil with a base bump. Foils are placed in a diagonal pattern with the heaviest concentration around the face. The bump is applied in between your foils if you get gray coverage, if not it's a bump at the bowl. 

Maintenance: 4-6 weeks

2. Highlights:

Traditional foil highlights and/or lowlights. Lightener or color is applied in either weaves (more natural) or slices (more dramatic).

Maintenance: 6-8 weeks

3. Foilayage:

A combination of traditional foils and balayage, typically with a shadow root at the shampoo bowl. Foils can be done just around the face for extra brightness, as balayage highlights will give you a more gentle lift.

Maintenance: 8-12 weeks

4. Color Melt:

A soft balayage of the whole head that gradually melts from dark to light. The technique for a color melt varies. Some clients will just require a reverse balayage (their natural root color melted down into pre-lightened pieces) and some will require at times as many as three colors applied at once for a gradient effect. 

Maintenance: 12-18 weeks

5. Sombré:

Hand-painted highlights blended to perfection, and the ends are optionally all lightened or just highlighted. Take finer sections around the face for maximum lift for that bright face-frame we all love! Placement in the back of the head should start lower and not be quite as heavy.  Around the face lightener is painted in sections on a diagonal, and on the sides and back take  "V" or "W" sections. 

Maintenance: 3-6 months

6. Ombré:

Hand-painted lightened ends. Blended, and typically a high contrast of color between the roots and ends. Just like a color melt you could be applying just a root, just lightening the ends or both at the same time. Be sure to still keep some lightness around the face because the days of a harsh contrasted ombré are gone! A modified shortened "V" and "W" pattern are used, lighten the ends but still keep it blended with no lines of demarcation.

Maintenance: 6-12 months


Blonde Maintenance Tips:

Everyone's blonde is different and may require maintenance in between lightening sessions:

  1. Shadow Root - A demi-permanent color applied at the root and emulsified down to blend regrowth lines while still allowing for dimension at the root.
  2. Toner - Typically a quick 15-minute appointment where your toner is refreshed at the bowl, add on a blowout and leave feeling refreshed and ready for a night out!
  3. Root Retouch: Are you covering gray? No matter which option you go with, depending on the percentage of gray your hair is, you will still need your roots touched up every 4-6 weeks.
  4. Haircuts & treatments - Even with all of the incredible products to help maintain integrity in the hair, lightening and daily life still take its toll on our ends. Love on those ends and see your stylist for routine trims and reparative treatments!

Still not sure? Ask your stylist for a consultation! And for even more hair color inspiration, be sure to follow @the_balayage_mermaid on Instagram.