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Hair Contouring is My Secret to a Lifted, Sculpted Look

No need for bronzer.

Collage of Hair Products

When it comes to my hair, I'm super low-maintenance. And no, it's not about being "chill" or anything like that—my super-thick hair grows out abnormally fast (I know—first-world problems), so getting regular haircuts, highlights, and color jobs can get costly (and time-consuming). When I do go into the salon, I like to plan ahead. Even though I usually play it safe and stick to the same hairstyle since I know what looks best on me, I still scroll through social media to see if anything piques my interest. That's how I stumbled upon hair contouring, a new hair trend. I was curious about the trend and how exactly it worked, so I decided to investigate further and reached out to a few hair experts to break down everything you need to know about hair contouring.

What is Hair Contouring?

At a glance, hair contouring is similar to makeup contouring. With makeup, you use matte bronzers, glowy highlighters, and concealers to highlight, sculpt, and define. When it comes to hair contouring, you can define and enhance your facial features with strategically placed highlights and a haircut that achieves this. P.S. Hair contouring works best with a mid-length or longer hairstyle because of the layering components.

How Does Hair Contouring Work?

“Hair contouring is all about the proper hair color styling and haircut placement for each individual’s face,” says hair color expert and founder of NYC The Team Hair Salon Michelle Hong. “You have to take into consideration [a person’s] current hair color, their height, head shape, facial structure, and skin tone and advise what would be the most flattering color and cut for them,” says Hong. After discussing with the client and advising which colors would look the best, Hong creates a custom color blend and applies balayage techniques to complement the client’s face. Not only will the colors enhance your overall look, but it can brighten, lift, and define your facial structure.

The same concept applies to haircuts. You'll want to consult with a stylist to see where they envision the layers to go to best accentuate your features. Celebrity hairstylist George Kyriakos always analyzes a client’s face and hair texture to see what type of cut would contour and flatter their face the best. “Certain bangs, layers, and bobs do not work for everyone,” he says. “Bangs can also be considered a hair-contouring technique because it can flatter and frame a person’s face without having to do a drastic cut.” You could also consider the “butterfly haircut.” It’s all about face-framing layers that start from your forehead and cascade all the way down. When blown out, the layers go outwards and away from the face, emulating the wings of a butterfly.

How Do You Maintain Hair Contouring?

As long as you properly condition your colored hair with the right products and use less heat, hair color contouring hairstyles are fairly low-maintenance. If you want to keep the face-framing pieces once your hair starts to grow out, make an appointment for a trim or ask your stylist to go a little bit shorter so you have more mileage to your hairdo.

Opt for a purple shampoo when washing your hair to help brighten up your color and eliminate any brassiness. And when heat styling, be sure to protect your hair with a heat-protectant spray. A hydrating deep conditioning mask is also a must-have to infuse hair with moisture, and if you want to maintain your shine at home in between salon appointments, use an at-home gloss treatment to keep your color vibrant.

If you’re anything like me and you want to be as low maintenance as possible when it comes to your hair, consider booking a face-framing cut or balayage hair contouring color for your next hair appointment. Your face will be defined and sculpted all by just letting your hair down—no bronzer or contour sticks necessary.

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