‘Hair Frosting’ Is Replacing Balayage In London Salons & It’s So Natural

·4 min read

Though we’re not far into 2022, London’s most talented hair experts have been busy cementing the colour trends that are going to take the year by storm. There’s ‘French glossing‘ (a modern take on the ombre look, which promises to transform dull, dry hair), ‘expensive brunette‘ (inspired by Selena Gomez) and ‘warm honeycomb‘ (because blonde will always be in vogue). But one LA-inspired hair colour movement is slowly trickling down into top UK salons — and it’s set to take over from one of the most requested colour appointments, balayage.

Enter: hair frosting.

What is the hair frosting colour trend?

Dreamed up by Stuart Marsh, award-winning colour director at Taylor Taylor London, hair frosting is not to be confused with frosted tips reminiscent of ’90s boy bands. The buzzy blonde technique consists of bleaching individual strands of hair a cool shade of blonde from root to tip, while leaving the adjacent, darker strands undyed. This intricate technique creates a multifaceted finish that juxtaposes light and dark hairs, which the salon says lends lengths a ‘salt and pepper’ effect. The way the lighter strands fall very delicately among the darker hairs resembles the way that frost settles atop trees — hence the phrase ‘hair frosting’.

So who’s the inspiration behind hair frosting? There are quite a few people, actually. Hailey Bieber‘s recent sun-kissed hair (created by hair artist Bryce Scarlett) is a perfect example. Mostly brunette, the wafer-thin, bleached strands that sit at the front of her face impart a contouring effect — think of the technique as a modern-day alternative to using Sun In hair lightener. “If bleached strands are concentrated at the front of the head, they frame the face and create contrast,” explains Stuart. Halle Berry is another celebrity championing hair frosting lately, with multiple blonde strands scattered throughout her brunette lengths. Courtesy of colourist Tracey Cunningham, the trend creates a glow to her hair. Then there’s Sofia Richie, Suki Waterhouse and the incredible Sarah Paulson, all of whom are firmly on the hair frosting bandwagon this year.

How does hair frosting differ from traditional highlights or balayage?

Balayage is arguably the biggest hair colour movement of the past decade but there’s a big difference between this and hair frosting. Stuart explains: “While balayage, foil highlights and hair frosting are all types of hair lightening techniques that don’t involve colouring every single strand of hair with the same colour, frosting gives a more muted, subtle effect.” Balayage means ‘sweep’, so hair is lightened in larger swathes. Stuart adds: “Frosting typically uses small, cool blonde tones to contrast the darker base colour [rather than the warmer, buttery tones that tend to be used when creating balayage] and it’s easy to maintain, as it’s designed to blend into your natural hair colour.” Stuart says that hair frosting creates a really soft, multidimensional look. “The results can create full layers of colour with a detailed finish that never appears ‘overdone’.” He adds: “It’s the best result for clients who want an easy, manageable colour without high commitment.”

Does hair frosting work on all hair types and textures?

Hair frosting is bespoke, too, depending on where your hair falls naturally or which style you prefer to wear it in. Centre parting? Cool blonde face framers will amplify your hair colour and accentuate your face shape. It’s also perfect for all hair types and textures, provided you nail your aftercare routine as it enlists bleach. “The technique can be used on hair of any texture, including curly and coily hair,” says Stuart. “If your hair is curly, in the days before your salon appointment just make sure you clarify and condition the hair, as this will help retain moisture and keep it healthy after lightening.”

When bleached, hair is more prone to becoming dry and brittle. “In the first three weeks after bleaching, try to wash your hair less often so that you don’t strip the lengths of their natural oils,” says Stuart. “Avoid heat styling and keep your strands hydrated with a deep conditioner. We recommend the LØRE Intensive Hair Treatment Mask, £38.” R29 also rates Amika’s The Kure Intense Bond Repair Mask, £28, and BLEACH London’s Reincarnation Mask, £6.99, for reversing damage and breathing life into weakened, bleached hair.

How do you explain hair frosting to a colourist?

All colourists would recommend collecting some pictures of similar styles for inspiration ahead of your consultation and appointment. But here’s exactly what to ask for, according to Stuart: “If you want to try hair frosting, ask your stylist to add ‘cool tones’ that contrast your darker base colour and explain that you would like a more muted effect than traditional foil highlights.” The latter may appear chunkier and disconnected from the darker pieces of hair. Hair frosting is all about achieving a dainty softness — and it’s going to be everywhere this year.

Refinery29’s selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

I Got The Octopus Haircut & It’s Actually So Chic

'French Glossing' Overhauled My Hair & I Love It

I Got Bottleneck Bangs & It's My Coolest Style Yet

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting