Around 80 percent of the female population collectively sighed in relief when the contouring makeup trend was officially 'over'.
It was an exciting but confusing time, when a multitude of foundations, concealers, bronzers and highlighters were all used at once just to create the perfect base. Thankfully the trend, as they all do, moved on -- and strobing took the spotlight.
We can blame Kimmy for making it mainstream. It looks hard because it is.
While the execution can tricky for the everyday girl, the theory behind makeup contouring is clever. Light and shade is used to create dimension -- highlighting areas of the face to offer the illusion of, well, whatever you want to fake (be it a thinner nose or higher cheekbones).
Now the same principles are being put into practise in hair. The good news is that hair contouring is performed by a professional, and the even better news is that it lasts as long as any other hair colour (AKA not just one day like makeup contouring).
Invented by L'Oreal Professionnel, the Hair Contouring Service begins with a diagnosis by the colorist. You'll work together to discuss your hair type and needs and importantly, your face shape. You may have a round face you'd like to appear more oval, or a heart shape you wish looked a little more round. Relay this info to the colourist and they'll tailor the highlights to optically achieve these desires.
"It's really important to take into account the clients features and face shape," colourist Simone Menenti from Sloans North Sydney told The Huffington Post Australia.
"We determine their current shape, what look they'd like to achieve, both in relation to their face and their hair -- do they want it to look more voluminous, look longer, have more dimension? From there we strategically plan out where the highlights will be placed. We also ask what shades they'd like, if they prefer warm or cool if they're brunette, that sort of thing," Menenti said.
2016 AHFA Hairdresser Of The Year Caterina DiBiase agrees, explaining that the hair contouring process works on all hair colours, not just blondes.
"Just like contouring in makeup, hair contouring works on very similar principles. It's about recognising the right colour for your skin tone, finding out what face shape you are and playing with dark and light shades in order to get the contour look that best suits you. This means you're not restricted by the number of looks you can great with contouring. You can change it up depending on the season -- lighter or darker it's all about the placement. As colourists, a lot of the time we use light shades to give a volume lift effect and to help highlight certain features. While dark shades are great to minimise volume and soften or hide certain parts," DiBiase said.
Once everyone is in agreement the colour is applied. It might be permanent formulation (like INOA or Majirel), a professional lightener (such as Blond Studio) or semi-permanent colour (like DIA Light). The type of colour will be decided based on the level of coverage required as well as your base colour. Now is the time to shout out if you wash your hair everyday, or you really need your greys covered.
The colour is painted on freestyle using a brush. Now before you say "it sounds lot like balayage", you're right. While the technique is similar the results are where the difference lies. Balayage, may it rest in peace, was the use of brunette and blonde and the colour gradient on the hair shaft was blocky and very obvious. Hair contouring is super subtle and a lot finer.
The end look is your hair, only better. Fresher, more dimensional. The understated use of various tones frames your face, elongating it (or achieving whatever result you discussed with your colourist). Regrowth isn't a problem due to the nature of application and the subtlety of colour.
Think of it like that pair of trusty Spanx -- the clothes on top are the same, only they look so much better.
L'Oreal Professionnel Hair Contouring is priced from $110 (POA depending on hair length and colour application technique. Excludes other salon services, cutting, treatments and styling).