Whether you think color melting is a fad or a trend that’s here to stay, there’s no denying its growing popularity among clientele. Color melting is a technique used to blend highlights or balayage, creating a more gradual transition from roots to ends while erasing any lines of demarcation. The “melting” of multiple colors, creating a natural look of varying tones and shades, is a major reason why this technique has become a favorite amongst clients.
However, despite its popularity, color melting is a technique that requires more thought and practice than you might think. Want to learn more about how to properly approach color melting? Here are 4 tips to help you achieve seamless color melting results.
Color Melting Tips & Tricks
1. Apply Product to Damp Hair
This is an important—if not the most important— step stylists can use for seamless color melting results. By applying to damp hair, you’re able to effortlessly glide products, like glaze and toners, along your client’s hair.
Since hair has different porosity levels, water minimizes the chances that your application process grabs certain areas more than others, which can cause uneven application or harsh demarcation lines. It also prevents the ends from soaking up residual product from your brush. This is especially important when working on higher lifted blondes, since root melt formulas tend to be much darker and can transfer easily, creating a patchy effect on the ends.
Water is your friend, but make sure your client’s hair is damp—not dripping wet. When hair is soaked it’s harder to section, see where the exact foil lines are, and apply product evenly, which makes the process more difficult and messy. While you don’t want the hair too wet, it’s recommended to keep a spray bottle at your station so you can keep each section damp throughout the process. Pay close attention to the ends when spraying since this part of the hair dries quickly.
2. Use a Conditioner
Since dry hair is any melting process’s enemy, using conditioner can help minimize patchy results. Apply conditioner to each hair section’s ends, but don’t rinse it out right away like you would after shampooing. Leaving it in your client’s hair can help fill in porosity, much like water, while performing a melt. This technique also prevents product transfer, ensuring the process is clean and efficient.
Once the initial product has set, it’s best to rinse the conditioner out before applying gloss. This is particularly important if the melt formula is dramatically darker than the client’s ends. It also prevents the ends from soaking up the darker toner or compromising your gloss formula.
3. Pick the Right Tools
Even the most skilled colorists need to make sure they’re using the right tools when color melting. The tools used, particularly brushes and combs, determine how much product is applied to the client’s hair. While it’s recommended to use a high quality melt brush—a tool with feathered bristles that can achieve a seamless blend—there are other utensils to consider.
For example, a fine tooth comb works well for color smudging and hairline detail while melting because it gives the stylist ample control of how much product is being applied to each individual strand. Another favorite tool, because of the need to work with wet hair, is the Tangler Teaser, or Wet Brush. The bristles are soft and forgiving, and spaced out appropriately for color melting, which creates a smooth transition from roots to ends.
There are several tools available to stylists, but, in the end, it really comes down to personal preference. However, whichever brush or comb you choose, it’s critical to keep your brush strokes even throughout the blending process.
4. Determine Section Size and Placement
Not all hair is created equal. Therefore, stylists need to study their client’s hair prior to a color melting appointment to ensure they’re intentional about the size and placement of sectioning. For example, tight, curly hair is more difficult to work with as compared to a fine, straight hair texture. Visualizing how far to bring the melt down should always be identified before shampooing. Once the hair is wet, everything becomes a little harder to judge.
In the end, section size really depends on how much coverage you need. While blending or color melting doesn’t require smaller sections, there’s a bit of a balancing act in determining size. You never want to create sections that are too large in case the roots aren’t fully covered, but small sections often take too long to process. This can be problematic since melting ideally needs to be applied in less than 10 minutes to achieve proper results.
This is where placement becomes important as well. Starting the color melting process toward the back of your client’s head can help if there are timing issues. This might be caused by their hair texture, or even the amount of hair you’re processing. In these cases, it’s easier to rinse the back and let the front continue processing. Breaking down the appointment ensures you aren’t racing against the clock, or stressing about an uneven, patchy application.
Don’t Have a Meltdown
Don’t have a meltdown about color melting! It may not be an easy technique to master, but with the right tools, products, and methods, you can give your clients the results they deserve. Check out our Successful Smudging Masterclass for other resources and see how you can take your color melting to the next level!