In a world of pumpkin spice highlights, mermaid hair, and balayage, hair color trends can be a confusing feed to follow. While some prefer to go bold with their tresses, you can bring it back to the old school days with babylights. What are babylights, exactly?
They might sound like a vague nod to Lolita style, but the look is actually all about keeping it natural. "Babylights are a method of lightening the hair to simulate the delicate wisps of lightness found naturally on children. Essentially, they are the “no-makeup makeup” of hair, minimal and easy to maintain," Jaymi Van Horne, a hairstylist at Toronto's Good Day Hairshop and with over 10 years experience, explained in an email interview with Bustle.
Their size also varies from regular highlights. "Babylights are super fine, pencil thin, incredibly natural looking highlights, that add depth and dimension to your style," Raqui Minwell, a former hair stylist with seven years experience and a specialty in babylights, added.
The highlights are achieved by coloring tiny strands of hair rather than thicker pieces. "I used to do them by weaving impossibly thin pieces of hair, separating those pieces from the rest of the hair and applying lightener," Minwell elaborates. The subtle size of the strand not only helps the highlights look more natural, but also makes the grow-out process of the color seem undetectable.
"Each section being lightened is either weaved or sliced at half the size of a regular highlight to ensure minimal detection when the lightened hair begins to grow out," Van Horne confirms.
Since it's a more natural color design, this style allows you to stick closely to your original hair color while still accenting it with subtle hues. Due to their subtlety, they'll look more like you spent a day out on the beach rather than a salon chair. That considered, this would be the perfect way to add some dimension to your hair but not change it too drastically.
If you have naturally fine hair, this look will work even more in your favor. "I think every hair type can benefit from this look, but this is a must do technique for thin hair," Minwell says. "Since the hair is already thin, it is incredibly important that it is never overpowered by anything like product, but especially color! These microlights are great because you can still get the benefits of adding (the illusion, in some cases) of depth and dimension."
While the fine highlights might look suspiciously close to balayage, it actually differs in technique in a big way. "Balayage is painted directly on the hair, as if the hair were a canvas. Babylights used foil or some such material to separate the hair that received the lightener from the unprocessed hair. This is crucial because keeping the tiny lightened parts separate is what allows the grow out to look so natural," Minwell says.
While this technique doesn't usually cost more than regular highlights, the price of getting it done in a salon can vary. According to Minwell, variables like the salon you go to, the expertise of your stylist, and whether you want a full or partial head will play a factor. "This is a pretty laborious process that can take a long time (1.5-3 hours depending on hair length, and thickness)," she says, "So I wouldn’t expect to spend less than $150-$200."
Van Horne agrees that if you get a price that's lower than a $100, you should be hesitant. "The cost of emerging trends are always a little pricier but if you are paying less than $90 for a full set of babylights, I would be concerned about the outcome. Not everyone is familiar with the technique and it is always my recommendation that you ask to see your stylists color work in the form of a social media account or online portfolio before sitting down in their chair," she says. Babylights are double the work than highlights, so the price makes sense.
While that might be a pretty penny for some, you can at least be rest assured that you'll look timeless while sporting it. While pumpkin spice hues might be seasonal, Minwell believes babylights are more of a hair staple. "This has been here and will always be here," she says. "No matter what the trends are, people will always want a more natural look. So it might be more popular at times but it will never go away."
Van Horne points out how we've seen examples of the micro highlights as far back as the early '90s, meaning they've stuck around even as styles and fashions had dramatically changed. "Topanga from Boy Meets World sported them in the 90’s, the Olsen twins in the early 2000’s and pretty much every blonde or brunette celebrity you encounter on the internet is rocking the hell out of them today."
If you're looking to lighten your locks without making much of a color commitment, this could be the trend for you.
Images: @julie.alleyy.stylebar/ Instagram (4)