A middle parting and a chunk of contrasting colour around the face - it's a look that's back from the Nineties and this time it's flattering for everyone
The 90s have been back in favour for a while now; what started with barely-there strappy sandals and slip dresses has migrated into an uptake in requests for chunky highlights in salon chairs and we have to say, we’re keener on the look than we thought we’d be.
Geri in 1995 and now
Face framing highlights were part of Geri Halliwell’s iconic Ginger Spice look and while we idolised the Spiceys, we never thought they’d be our hair idols all over again, but we’re happy to report chunky strips of blonde actually work surprisingly well now that we’re all grown up (just ask Miranda Kerr and Beyonce). The style doesn’t have to be reserved for youthful Gen Z-ers, who are working the look with bolder colours.
In fact, it can be anti-ageing, especially if you are covering grey hair which can look helmet-like if dyed all one colour against mature skin, as Geri knows. She still has face-framing highlights now, just a much softer take on the trend than her red and bleach contrasting strands of her twenties. "As you age, your skin tone changes and some shades can make you look sallow or pink-tinged. Use creamier colours to neutralise this for more mature skin," advises Sean Butt director of Berkhamsted salon Alchemy & I .
"The best thing about going really light in tone on a nice, big, chunky face frame, is it completely blends away grey," says Sophia Hilton, founder of East London hairstylist Not Another Salon . "There's nothing more ageing than seeing grey hair come through on a hairline and if you can blend away that grey with bright white hairline no one would be any the wiser."
“The face frame technique lightens the hair around the face throwing light on your skin creating a pretty glow, brightening complexions,” explains Bryony Cairn, colourist for Larry King .
So other than our undying love for the 90s, where has this trend come from? “I think people are asking for it because it’s a big change post-lockdown but also low maintenance,” says Bryony. “I recommend this to clients who have a taste for a full bleach as this is a great introduction,” adds Harriet Muldoon, Larry King colourist for Redken and Pureology .
Face framing highlights give you a totally new look without having to spend hours sitting in the salon chair as you’d need for balayage or a full head of highlights (ideal if you want to spend less time in salon with COVID restrictions in place).
Face-framers are also fun because you can switch them up easily; once the front is bleached, wash in colours are an easy way to refresh your hair with rainbow hues for a few days.
Damage wise, bold front-sections transform your look without ravaging all of your hair with bleach too, but the front of our hair is already most susceptible to breakage so you will need to lavish TLC on your tendrils.
Who suits face-framing highlights?
As we said, any age can rock a face framer, but the style of bleached frontage you go for depends on the shape of your face as Sean explains. “Round face shapes need to have much lower face-framing, just tipping the fringe and front sections so not to widen the face, whereas oval faces can wear their framers however they want. For heart shape faces go for a longer root and bolder, thicker bleach at the ends to widen the face at its slimmest points.”
Which hair colours can wear face framers?
The darker your hair the more impactful a bleached front section will be, but a subtle face-framer is just as flattering - just look at Kylie Jenner’s light brown and blonde ‘do. The front sections should be lighter by at least a couple of shades, advises Sean. If you’re unsure start subtle and build up to thicker, bolder frames.