Don’t worry, I didn’t know what these terms meant until last week either.
Your eye colour is on a similar colour level to your base hair colour. (What your roots are/what your natural colour is.) Creating a blend of similar toned colours is most flattering for you. If you go too stark in contrast, you’re not doing your hair OR your eyes (or skin tone) and favours. Take Jennifer Lopez for example. She is all warm chocolate eyes and so when she blends in chocolate and caramel and toffee tones together in her hair, it is perfection on her. If she were to go bright, cool blonde or dark ashy brown: no good.
Famous Blenders include:
Your eye colour is on quite a different level to your base hair colour, and the best way to accentuate this interest and excitement is with a contrasting hair colour, at least around eye level. If you go for hair colour that is too similar to your eye shade, you can look washed out, or, uh, boring. (THE WORST THING EVER.) This is where people like Kristen Stewart are perched, with piercing light green eyes bought to life with dark, contrasting brunette hair. If she went soft light blonde, it would be too similar a level to her eyes, and do nothing for her.
Famous Contrasters include:
Have a good think about whether you might be a contraster or a blender, as chances are it will provide some impressive clues as to why your hair colour is or isn’t working for you, or if perhaps there is something new you should try. It can be a bit tricky, I should admit. Some people can be both a Blender and a Contraster. And there are nuances within eye colours, for example, like the difference between dark blue eyes and light blue eyes. A dark blue eye (think Drew from Big Brother for those of us danguses who watched it) will look fantastic with a darker brown hair base, (Contraster) while a light blue eye colour (think Cameron Diaz) is much more of a Blender, and is suited to a lighter, blonde base.
I learned all of this as I had my hair colour done last week at Xiang salon in QV, Melbourne. This was my first (finally!) Melbourne colour and cut, but I was several post codes from nervous as my colourist was Dani Solier, who owns the salon with her boyfriend Jamie Furlan (who cut my hair perfectly: all one length to thicken up my super fine hair). Dani heads up the L’Oreal Professional Colour Team so she knows things. She is a top bird and the clever dame who did my hair at the Logies last year. Five stars.
Anyway. I explained to Dani I was enjoying my underlighting, but was feeling like I might like a slightly darker brunette shade around the face. Keep seeing Megan Gale look all amazing with her dark hair and getting jealous. And, was feeling like since the last colour had faded (my laziness being the reason) it was all a bit… meh. Dani gently agreed, and explained that because I am naturally a Contraster (light eyes, dark base colour), when my colour is too similar to my eyes and there is no contrast, I looked washed out.
And godammit, she was right.
Dani decided to use the new range of L’Oréal Professionnel INOA shades (of which Alexa Chung is ambassador… which gives you some idea of what L’Oreal’s motive is… natural, cool-girl hair) to create DEFINITELY NOT OMBRE HAIR despite the product name, (because I explained to Dani that I was very uninterested in two-tone or dip dye hair) but lovely, very-subtle natural reflects and colour graduation around the mid-lengths and ends for excitement and texture. I looked at the images from the campaign to see what I was waltzing into and was pleasantly impressed. This isn’t balayage circa 2010. This is all new shit.
The result: A gorgeous dark, cool, ashy (all VERY important words to use with your colourist if your natural hair is cool-toned and you wish to avoid redness or gold in any way shape or form) ammonia-free gloss up top, then lived-in, subtle highlights seamlessly blended in below. It’s not hugely different to my previous underlighting, but there is definitely way more contrast, and THAT is what I like.
I’m a BIG fan because it does nice things for making my eyes stand out, but still offers lots of (much-needed) texture because of the ribbons of lighter hair below.
I promised Dani that I would not be a naughty shit and let the highlights get all blergh and the gloss get all dull by neglecting to use specialised colour protect shampoo and conditioner, and of course, I would always protect my hair before heat-styling.
She seemed satisfied with that.
Are you a Blender?