on trend


Hair Contouring – The ‘It’ Look To Shine All Winter Long!

February 22nd 2016
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Even though you may have dreamt of it, you didn’t go to a sunny tropical island with your hair smelling of coconut, naturally blonde and shiny once the sun comes up. No, you stayed shivering in the cold, tired and frowning with dull hair, but sometimes you just need to go and ask your hairdresser for a bright, sexy color, as if you’d spent a month vacationing in California. Professionals colorists have rethought how they do color, giving rise to a technique called ‘hair contouring’. Inspired by a makeup technique, this is technique that lets you visually modify the shape of your face by playing with shadows and light in your hair. This is the opposite of block coloring, or the highlights of yesteryear – think Rachel’s in Friends.

Together with renowned master colorists, L’Oréal Professionnel shows the new way to a young crop of colorists just starting their career. Parisian Frédéric Mennetrier, the founder of L’Atelier Blanc, a top colorist known all over the world, and Sam McKnight, an A-list British hairdresser, put on the Wild Cooper Contouring for an ultra-glamourous look worn by the singer Joséphine de la Baume. Here, Fab Beauty decrypts this art of coloring.

Joséphine de La Baume
Joséphine de la Baume Hairstyle by L’Oréal Professionnel.

Perfect Your Color And Brighten Up Your Face

“Hair Contouring is just a term given for something that already exists – the art of controlling pigments and color, and how to apply the correctly to perfect and correct defects. You can work with several colors to highlight them, and highlights always mean blonder, lighter tones.” This is how Frédéric Mennetrier explains this coloring technique, which isn’t new, but needed to be standardized and followed specifically to meet the needs of the modern woman. “With Joséphine, who is naturally a redhead, we worked with the family of golden colors because this went very well with a copper look, so we did away with beige and ashy tones, keeping a faded copper, almost blonde color,” says the colorist.The effect is double here, with an irresistibly wild look, hence the name “Wild Cooper Contouring”. The look is achieved using Beach Waves by Tecni.Art and finished off with a pre-Raphaelite inspired copper color.This very specific play between light and shadow has already won over top model Gisele Bündchen, actresses’ Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Biel, and even Natalie Portman; the secret is to leave everything to the experts because every shape of face has its own contouring.

Which Look Is Right For You? 

Hairstyling professionals have based themselves on makeup techniques, which distinguish four different categories of face shapes: oval, oblong, square and round. The role of the colorist then consists of identifying the shape of the face in order to define the areas of shadow and light. Depending on the diagnostics, the colorist will work with coloring, highlighting, hair painting and shadows.

For Joséphine de la Baume, who has a long and rectangular (oblong) face, the colorist chose to brighten up the face using highlighting of a few sections of hair in front of her face. This gives the illusion that her face has expanded horizontally. This front highlighting begins at the root and ends at the tips, and is done between eyebrows and jawline.The rest consists of meticulously working with pigments, giving the impression of a natural color.

Long shape before and after hair contouring, the face was "horizontalized"/Hairstyle by L'Oréal Professionnel.
Long shape before and after hair contouring, the face was “horizontalized”/Hairstyle by L’Oréal Professionnel.

As for other face shapes, up to now, the oval was considered as perfect, but this didn’t keep you from wanting to bring light to the front of the face. A square shaped face needs to be darkened at the corners to soften the face, and a round face needs verticality to lengthen it. The hairstylist will brighten the top of the roots up the tips through highlighting or a dye-job, darkening the sides.

Round face before and after hair contouring, the face was "verticalized"/Hairstyle by L'Oréal Professionnel.
Round face before and after hair contouring, the face was “verticalized”/Hairstyle by L’Oréal Professionnel.

Finally, for a triangular shape, the goal is the opposite: to darken the roots and brighten the tips underneath the jawline. In this case, dark tones and shadows are perfect.

Triangular shape before and after hair contouring, the volume was pushed down on her head and to compensate the recede jaw shape, the ends were lightened/Hairstyle by L'Oréal Professionnel.
Triangular shape before and after hair contouring, the volume was pushed down on her head and to compensate the recede jaw shape, the ends were lightened/Hairstyle by L’Oréal Professionnel.

All this may appear quite technical, and it is precisely a very delicate process, so you should trust the advice of your hairstylist, colorist and makeup artist. As Frédéric reminds us, every case is unique so even if you follow these rules, the professionals will have to be flexible because this isn’t an exact science. “No question of ending up with a tie-and-dye! And to provide volume, we need to have density, so we’ll keep the roots dark and lighten the length of the hair gradually. But everything depends on the customer you have in front of you; if the customer has a part in the middle with hair down to her chest, this won’t provide any volume.”

Bright, glamorous and sexy – you know what you need to do so your hair can “pop” this spring.