Over the years, we’ve seen some pretty ‘out there’ hair trends come and go. There’s been the big bouffants of the 60s, the Farrah Fawcett-esque feathered curls in the 70s, the perm revolution of the 80s and the crimping craze of the 90s. Even in the last 20 years, hair trends seem to have maintained this ‘more is more’ approach (we’re looking at you, sideswept emo fringes and butterfly clips!)
But in recent years, there’s been a shift towards more subtle hair trends. The two-toned hair looks (blonde hair, black tips!) and tight ringlets of the early noughties have been replaced with subtle balayage and loose, relaxed waves.
The latest trend to hit the hairdressing world takes this minimalism to a whole new level. In fact, it’s so subtle that your hairdresser may already be doing it without you realising! Enter, gloss smudging.
While it’s hard to say exactly when and where gloss smudging originated, the technique has gained recent popularity in LA salons. One of the city’s top colourists, Kari Hill of Mèche Salon, told Refinery 29 that she uses the technique on almost every client.
I smudge everyone who walks through the door. Think of it almost like an eyeliner with a smudger at the end. It takes out the deliberate look of the highlight at the root.
-Kari Hill, Hair Colourist at Mèche Salon
As for how it works? After the hair is lightened and the colour is washed out, the hair stylist puts a toner through if necessary. Then, if the stylist is a gloss smudging convert, they’ll apply a gloss or toner with a brush to just the roots. This is normally done at the shampoo bowl and doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, but it goes a long way in giving you a soft and natural looking finish.
Not only that, but gloss smudging will also stretch out your time between touch-up appointments. Kari explains that when it was first created it was called ‘recession hair,’ because the gloss is semi-permanent. This means that it fades within two months, leaving naturally blended roots in its place.
You don’t have to be blonde to gloss smudge, either. As long as you’re going lighter (think caramel highlights), brunettes can benefit from smudging, too!
So, you want to try out gloss smudging but your hairstylist has NFI how to do it (and you can’t afford to fly to LA.) No worries! The technique itself is pretty simple and if you show them the below step-by-step video from Mèche Salon, they should be able to figure it out.
The most important thing your hairstylist should know is that the order is everything. They’ll want to start with the hair on the crown and do the front last, only leaving the gloss there for a few short moments. Happy smudging!