Cotton candy to neon: it's time to get experimental with your hair colour

Daring hair colours continued to trend at recent fashion weeks. Love the look? Here's what you need to know before booking an appointment with your hairdresser

30 September 2018 - 00:00 By Nokubonga Thusi
A model sporting blue hair walks the runway at the Matty Bovan show at London Fashion Week 2018.
A model sporting blue hair walks the runway at the Matty Bovan show at London Fashion Week 2018.
Image: Getty Images/Tabatha Fireman/BFC


'Hair today, gone tomorrow' is the new mantra on everybody's lips after Marc Jacobs and Matty Bovan took hair colour to the extreme in the recent fashion week shows.

The shows demonstrated that colours are around to be experimented with - and that you can change the shade of your locks faster than you can say "dye job" (cue colourist, Josh Wood, colouring model's hair backstage hours before the Marc Jacobs show).

"We have seen huge advancements in hair colours and treatments in the past few years. This has allowed hairdressers to create adventurous hair colours and not compromise on the condition," says Candice Mckay, founder of Joburg-based  Wyatt Hairdressing & Barbering.

The Marc Jacobs show saw models being sent down the runway with customised, sorbet-swirled hair in voluminous bouffant styles fit for a high-society Southern belle, and which perfectly matched their pastel eyeshadow.

Matty Bovan took advantage of the current neon trend and added a punk-rock complement to his vibrant patchwork garments with highlighter pinks, teal greens and David Bowie oranges saturated into the models' hair, even on Afro-texture hair.

"We are in an era of self expression and are demanding no-judgment policies," says McKay.

"We are in a renaissance of our humanity, where people are able to express their true selves. We have had the #MeToo movement and the long-delayed acceptance of the LGBTQ community. We are in a time where being an individual is applauded and a reflection of that freedom is seen in experimenting with vivid hair colours." 

A model with a cotton-candy-coloured do walks the runway at the Marc Jacobs show in New York.
A model with a cotton-candy-coloured do walks the runway at the Marc Jacobs show in New York.
Image: Gallo/Getty Images/Stuart Wilson/BFC


This lingo guide will ensure you're on the same page as your hairdresser.

Balayage (ba-lee-yage)

Balayage, meaning "to sweep" or "to paint" in French, gives the hair natural, gradual highlights throughout by free-hand painting hair dye onto the strands.

Sombré (som-brey)

If the harsh colour edges of the ombré technique aren't for you, sombré or subtle ombré may be. It still gives the hair a dye job that has darker roots and lighter ends, but these are seamlessly blended with no sharp colour transition.

Flamboyage (flam-boy-yage)

Ever wanted hair that didn't look noticeably highlighted or coloured? Flamboyage uses both the ombré and balayage techniques to paint colour into tiny sections of hair, over transparent adhesive strips, for subtle peek-a-boo strands of colour.

Baby lights

The baby lights technique involves the painting of colour strand by stand or onto tiny sections of hair to create a more dimensional colour- think sun kissed, natural locks.

écaille (e-kai-yi)

This technique, meaning tortoiseshell in French, blends a combination of colours such as caramels, various browns and blondes, to create a colour that is subtle, rich and catches the light.


McKay urges you to remember that it may take multiple appointments at the salon to achieve your desired look — and to maintain it.

"Clients are under the impression that the vivid colours are permanent - they are not, they fade fast," she explains. 

That's why she advises you discuss your budget with your hairdresser before taking the plunge. Don't only chat about the cost of the initial hair colouring appointment, but also about the products and future appointments that'll be required to maintain your colourful locks.