Conventional beauty wisdom says that darker hair colors (and lipsticks, and eyeshadows...) are better for winter, for reasons we can't exactly pinpoint. But this season is different — at least when it comes to 2018's top winter hair color trends. After consulting celebrity colorists throughout the United States — from New York City to Seattle, Washington — The Zoe Report found that right now, most women are craving unique versions of the same thing: warm, natural-looking color with easy upkeep.
“Women are embracing warmth instead of fighting brass,” Maddison Cave, a colorist at Rita Hazan salon in New York City who’s worked with actress Carey Mulligan, tells The Zoe Report. “The color lasts longer and looks more natural, especially in darker hues.”
In the same vein, residents of Seattle have discovered the secret to that natural-but-better color: “My clients ask for rich colors mimicking their hair color from childhood,” Stacie Bowie, the owner of the Seattle-based Bowie Salon, tells us. “It’s key for beautiful, believable, youthful-looking hair.”
Colorists in nearly every major city echo this sentiment — although each area puts their own spin on the look, whether through reverse balayage in New Orleans or color melting in Miami.
Ahead, discover the top winter hair color trends in 10 major cities across the United States — and find the next hair color that calls to you.
New York City
“The biggest trend I’m seeing here in New York City is copper-y golden tones ranging from Lady Gaga’s orange in A Star is Born, to a more subdued strawberry blonde,” Cave says. These warmer hues work on brunettes, too. “Rich tones also do wonders for the skin in these paler times,” Cave tells us.
In the City of Angels, women are taking their style cues from the City of Lights. "I was just in LA and I feel like the low maintenance trend is making its way to the United States," Christophe Robin, a Paris-based colorist who's worked with industry icons like Tilda Swinton and Catherine Deneuve, tells The Zoe Report. "I think the trend is about having your hair a bit more undone than before, which always looks more natural."
He notes that LA women are opting for the French je ne sais quoi style with subtle highlights, but the Angeleno way to wear the look is with a sun-drenched twist. After all, "LA invented the beachy hair look," he says.
“The Portland hair scene has many facets at the moment — you really can color your hair anyway you please and nobody will bat an eyelash,” Kate Pierovich, a colorist at the city’s Ginger Salon, tells TZR. “Lately the request I've been getting from clients is balayage that is toned with a fashion color, like rose gold or smokey purple.”
Whereas traditional balayage (a highlighting technique that involves “painting” natural-looking highlights onto the base color) typically involves blonde highlights, the Portland version is a little more statement-making. “When balayage is glazed with a fashion color like a soft pink or even a teal green, you end up with a mermaid type look, rooty yet soft drizzly highlights,” Pierovich says. “This look is wearable, not harsh, and easily maintainable.”
Seattle style is nothing if not nature-inspired, and the latest hair color trend in the city is no exception. Bowie tells us that women are asking for looks that recall their childhood color (which, since hair tends to get a little darker as we age is just a little lighter than their current roots).
While this might seem like an easy process, Bowie says it could take a few sessions to achieve the desired effect. “If you do not have virgin hair, chances are you’ll be receiving a color correction,” she tells us. “A color correction takes time unless, you’d like to cut your hair to your chin.” Expect two to three dye sessions before landing on your ideal shade.
“Our salon guests are ready for darker, richer depth,” Patti Michiko, a colorist and educator at Paris Parker Salons & Spas in New Orleans, reveals to TZR. “Reverse balayage achieves this effect.” The look turns traditional balayage on its head — instead of lighter highlights on a dark base color, this reverse technique involves painting on brunette lowlights as well. “I suggest that my clients maintain shine and depth with a color gloss every four to six weeks,” Michiko says.
“Mushroom brown color is being requested a lot," Aubree Hill, the owner of Huxley Salon in San Diego, tells us. The trend is a dimensional take on all-over brunette color, often featuring multiple shades of brown. “This is very low maintenance — women in San Diego love low key color that’s easy to maintain.”
“I get a lot of requests for color melting, with a natural and easy grow out,” Sarah Schossow, a colorist at IGK Salon in Miami, tells us. “Color melting is the merging of two or even three different colors that melt together from dark to light to achieve the most natural, blended, melted look.” She uses a mix of balayage and foliage to create the look, which grows out well and requires little maintenance.
“I suggest a gloss in between highlight appointments, since Miami water and sun do take a toll on our color.” She swears by IGK’s Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm for hydration and heat protection.
"While balayage is still very much high in demand for its beautiful blend and seamless grow out process, Austin has a serious craving for grey locks,” Debbie Benavides, a colorist at Austin’s Benjamin Beau Salon, tells TZR. “Our corporate business woman craves natural subtle beauty, while our tech geniuses want to be unicorns behind their computer screens.”
“In Washington, D.C., I’m seeing a lot more women come in looking for really naturally sun kissed hair,” Ian McCabe, a colorist who’s worked with fitness icon Tracy Anderson, tells us. “From C-Suite executives, politicos from Capitol Hill, city’s top doctors to leaders in advocacy — we are truly a city that houses some of the most powerful women in the country, and they want to always look put together without being contrived.”
To this end, he notes that women in D.C. aim for “believable” hair color. “When achieving this look, we always use a lighter formula around the face with all of our single processes,” McCabe explains. “This mimics what nature would create in the sun.”
“We service a broad range of clientele, and the one thing they have in common is they are busy,” Teiara Dandy, a colorist at Hair Lab in Detroit, shares with TZR readers. “The top trending color technique we are seeing this season is definitely ‘babylighting’ — micro highlights for naturally occurring dimension.”
Babylighting can be used across all colors, from champagne blondes to soft caramels and even deep brunettes. “I think we are seeing more women choosing this option due to ease of maintenance, while still remaining on trend,” Dandy notes. “It allows our clients to look and feel their best.” And no matter where you live, who wouldn’t want that?