While they never really went away to begin with, golden, sun-kissed highlights have become the latest hair colour trend for a natural-looking way to lighten up your shade. The defined trend—known as
the ombré hairstyle—errs on the natural side, but can be re-interpreted in varying shades and tones to achieve every desired effect of drama.

And that’s the beauty of today’s highlights, as Jed Puznak, colour director at The Alcorn Salon in Toronto, points out. We asked Puznak to break down the hair colour trend and give his picks for the best ways to achieve this natural look.

Hair trends—long live the ombré hairstyle

Gone are the days of blonde-streaked hair from root to tip, and in its place comes a softer, subtler take on the ombré hairstyle. “It has a natural quality to it but it’s graphic at the same time,” says Puznak. Think less dip-dyed and more of the strong shadowing seen in the coifs of
Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde and even Kim Kardashian.

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And with the rise of the ombré hairstyle, the look has warmed up to more golden highlights. “Women have always wanted ashy highlights,” says Puznak. “Now they’re embracing a warm, sun-kissed effect.”

The natural look

The best way to describe this hair trend is to look at the gradient effect on kid’s hair colour, which naturally lightens in the sun. For that sun-kissed look, ask your hair colourist to add a glaze or rinse to your hair. “It’s a top coat to the hair,” says Puznak. “It plays up the warm, golden tones and makes hair look strong and healthy.” (Sold!)

And the best thing is that shiny hair works on every shade: “From
red heads to platinum blondes, anyone can benefit from a glaze,” he says.

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Read on for more ways to get the perfect highlights…

highlights-one-page-two.jpgThe balayage effect
One of the most common hair-lightening techniques is freehand highlighting, says Puznak, citing a shift from defined, chunky highlights. “It has a great effect on long hair,” he adds. It consists of backcombing a subtle ombré into the hair.

Given the free-form nature of the application, the final look varies according to hair texture and density, of course. “It’s never one size fits all,” says Puznak. The beauty of an ombré hairstyle is best showcased on pin-straight hair with a more diffused effect—“a natural meshing so that you can’t tell where it starts,” Puznak describes. But women with curly hair have the freedom to try a more dramatic colour-blocked ombré hairstyle. “Curls hide things better.”

The touch-up
The effect of grown-out highlights naturally heightens the ombré hairstyle. To enhance the look after a few months, add subtle highlights at the root. “This will soften the darkness at the root so there isn’t as much contrast.”

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But just as hair colour naturally fades in the sun, your golden highlights will lighten over time (and keep in mind that the use of heat tools like flat irons and blow dryers will only accelerate the process). Apply a serum or protective glaze to coat the hair before using hot tools.

The dramatic switch-up

Natural beauty is fun and all, but everyone loves a radical shake up once in a while. “The chunky, ribbon highlights have evolved into something more refined,” says Puznak. But he loves the challenge of weaving in chunky pink highlights underneath the hair for a bold twist.

Adding highlights to short hair is a fun way to heighten a cropped cut. Try an allover colour with ginger-red highlights (depending on your skin tone) to add softness and dimension. “It’s how you re-interpret it,” says Puznak. “That becomes the new classic.”

Read more:
Hair colour: The new ombré hairstyle

6 tips to boost your hair colour
7 reasons to colour your hair

Hair tips: How to maintain your hair cut