Whether you’re new to the hair industry or you’ve been in the game for a while, it’s always a good idea to constantly push yourself to try new things and develop new skills. One technique that has been around for a few years at this point, but which has really begun to see a lot of renewed interest, is color melting.
But what exactly is color melting? How is it different from balayage or other treatments? When does the technique make sense? And how does it work?
We answer all of these questions below so that you can further your understanding of this game-changing technique and begin incorporating it into your own services.
What is color melting?
Color melting is a technique that is used to blend highlights or balayage into a client’s root color in order to create a more gradual transition and subtler lines of demarcation. It works by depositing tone to generate a custom blend in the roots.
The goal is ultimately to “melt” the colors so that they appear as though they are natural. Performed correctly, you truly can’t tell where one pigment ends and another begins! That’s what makes the technique so powerful and so popular.
When should color melting be used?
Color melting can be used any time you are trying to create a natural, lived-in look for your clients.
It is often used for clients who have undergone a balayage or foilyage treatment and then let their roots grow out. Instead of performing another full balayage treatment, the client can have a color melt done as a form of “maintenance” that lets them get more time and enjoyment out of their style before having to sit for another full session.
This keeps clients happy and can make them more inclined to be willing to invest in their hair to begin with.
What’s the difference between color melting, balayage, and foilyage?
Color melting is often discussed alongside balayage, foilyage, and other highlighting or lightening techniques. That’s because they often compliment each other really well and can be used to achieve similar results. There are some important differences between these techniques, though, which you should be sure to understand.
The primary difference between color melting and balayage lies in how they work. Balayage, foilyage, and traditional foil highlights are all lightening treatments that work by removing tone from the hair. Color melting, on the other hand, works by depositing tone. There’s no lightning involved! For this reason, getting good at color melting will require you to really develop your color theory knowledge.
What is Melted Magic?
Melted Magic is our specific color melting technique, which we designed to perform a couple of tasks all in one treatment:
Blur away harsh lines of demarcation
Get rid of foil lines (for clients making the transition to balayage)
Introduce more depth (for overly-highlighted hair)
Buy the client time between full balayage or foilyage sessions
Simply touch up new growth
5 Tips for the Perfect Color Melt
1. Know your guest’s end goal.
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, then you’ve heard us give this bit of advice hundreds of times: If you want a happy client, then you need to understand what goals they have for their hair. If you don’t know what they want, then it’s nearly impossible to give it to them.
Before you start the treatment, perform a hair consultation with your guest. This consultation will help you understand the current state of your client’s hair, it’ll help you understand exactly where your guest wants to take their hair, and it’ll give you an opportunity to chart a path to get there. Just as importantly, this consultation will also give you an opportunity to manage your client’s expectations and educate them on the process, which can only help.
2. Clarify your guest’s hair.
Before you try to do any kind of color melting work, it’s very important that you first clarify their hair to remove any buildup that the hair might have on its surface, whether it is product, oils, or anything else. Because clarifying shampoos are stronger, they are able to strip away much more of this residue than your typical, everyday shampoo.
3. Use the correct tools.
Not all balayage brushes and tools are created equally! Some are better suited for certain tasks, while others are better suited for others. Using the right brushes will make completing your color melts much easier than trying to make do with brushes which are ill fit for the job.
When it comes to color melting, you want to use something like our Melt Brush. This is a light-weight brush with long, soft, synthetic bristles that are deposited into a single reservoir, perfect for making a fast and gentle application. Because of the mechanics of the bristles, this kind of brush is much better suited to creating instant blur than other brush types.
It’s also important to bear in mind that you use the right kind of comb. Depending on how large your transition area is, you will want to use either a wide-tooth comb or a fine-tooth comb. The fine-tooth comb will capture more of your product and drag it further down the shaft, making it ideal for larger transition areas, while the wide-tooth comb will capture less product, making it more ideal for shorter transition areas.
4. Melt on damp hair.
Dry hair is in a lot of ways like a sponge: It absorbs pigment and dye really quickly, which can lead to splotchiness and harsher coloring than you typically want in a melt. Damp hair, on the other hand, has more even porosity. This allows the product to absorb into the hair a bit more gradually, which enables better product distribution and a more natural look.
The secret, of course, is in walking a fine line between too dry and too wet. When hair is too wet, the water will dilute the product and you simply won’t get the coverage that you want or need. That’s why you don’t want the hair to be wet: You want it just amp enough to even out your porosity.
5. Give the product enough processing time.
If the product isn’t given a chance to sit and process, then you aren’t giving it time to penetrate the hair and deposit its pigment. Letting the product process for long enough will help you give your client the look that she wants, while also helping the treatment last longer.
So how long should you let the hair process? Generally speaking, we’ve found that every minute of processing time equals about one wash. 20 minutes is typically the maximum amount of time you should let hair process.
Want to learn more great color theory tips and tricks? Download our free root smudging formulas PDF! You might also consider signing up for SALT Lab or SALT Lab Advanced, two online courses focused exclusively on answering your most pressing color theory needs.