The last time I had my hair coloured was December 2019. We're now well and truly into 2021 and while there's no sign of hairdressing salons reopening any time soon, I'm well aware that when they do getting an actual appointment is going to be similar to trying to get hold of Glasto tickets. So with the fact that, realistically, I'm not going to be back in a salon chair for another few months, I’ve been looking into different ways I can make my current colour situation work for me.
I’ve been inundated by messages from friends and family begging me for any tips on what to do about their own roots too. And the truth is unless you’re brave enough to try a box dye (proceed with caution), there’s really very little you can do other than style the regrowth out as best you can.
Especially when working from home, there really is no better get-stuff-done hairstyle. The topknot is the chic yet easy style that most of us will turn to in times of need. But it turns out a topknot doesn’t just have to be the thrown-up, scruffy style we know it to be. In fact, it can be incredibly stylish, all while helping to reduce the appearance of root contrast.
John Vial, global influencer for Revlon Professional, explains that by bringing grown-out lengths to the front of the bun, you can create the illusion of more colour. He explains, "For those with long hair, pull your hair up into a pony and wrap, leaving four or five inches on the ends. Use this hair to create a faux fringe at the front, and use clips to hold in place.”
But what about visible roots elsewhere? "Gently tug and pull down bits of hair at the sides. This will cover roots with lighter hair,” says Vial. Finish up with a shine spray to help disguise dry ends and then set in place with hair spray.
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The truth is, having bad roots shouldn’t stop you from letting your hair flow. Jonathan Soons, creative ambassador at Headmasters, reveals that it’s actually less about the updo and more about styling tricks. "To really hide roots, the best thing to do is increase movement and add volume. Reach for a tong or straightening iron—anything you can use to make loose waves. Once you’re done, shake it all out and blast in texture spray,” he says.
If you’re still not satisfied, the key is the parting. Soons explains, "Straight partings show off regrowth more. The more uneven and natural the parting, the better those roots look.”
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For a more glam take, this particular style benefits from all of the root disguising characteristics of the topknot while still creating the illusion that you’re wearing your hair down. Plus, it’s super easy to do yourself.
"Take a triangle section at the front of your hair and clip it out of the way. Take both sides at the front and tie them back into a topknot on the crown. Go back to the triangle section and backcomb the front. Then smooth it with your palms into a topknot and pin into place,” explains Vial. With the rest of the hair, be sure to add some texture with tongs and spray to soften any contrast.
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Achieving the ultimate messy-look ponytail or effortless bun isn’t the easiest of things. In fact, I’d say there’s absolutely nothing effortless about it at all. However, according to Vial, my technique has been all wrong. Instead of attempting to achieve an effortless look from the outset, start off perfect.
He advises to first pull your hair into a tight ponytail, and then, using the palm of your hand, brush the hair forward to create a halo effect. "This softens all contrasts between regrowth and coloured hair. Avoid any products that contain oils. A messier finish is best,” says Vial.
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While this might be the trickiest style to achieve on yourself at home, it’s definitely the prettiest. "Anything tight will always make colour contrast look greater,” warns Vial. It’s important, therefore, to keep plaits loose and ethereal-looking.
His favourite braided look? "Part the hair in two, like school bunches. Braid them, and then stretch the braids apart so they are softer and distressed. Pin one over the hairline at the front and then one behind it. Finish up by pushing them in the wrong direction with your palm to help soften.”
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Opening image: @brycescarlett
Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous.
Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics.
While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best.
When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.