Foilayage and babylights dominate hair colour trends in 2022

Low-maintenance multi-tonal styles are all the rage this year

Hairdresser Charlotte Nash is rocking sun-kissed locks in 2022. Photo: Ruben Gutierrez Rubio
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It’s official: balayage is out after reigning mightily for what seems like an eternity.

The highlighting technique, which is painted on to create a stretched root effect, is popular among those who favour natural-looking tresses, as well as those who just can’t be bothered to get their growth touchedup every couple of weeks.

But although it’s bye-bye balayage, we’re saying hello to a brand-new graduated hair trend for 2022: foilayage.

Go freehand with foilayage

Foilayage gives the hair a sun-kissed look. Photo: Maggie Semaan

The French technique is created using freehand strokes rather than the traditional technique of weaving colour meticulously through sectioned hair, before wrapping it in foil for boosted results.

“Foilayage provides the ultimate hair lift and is perfect for brunettes wanting to be super-blonde,” says Hicham Eid, creative director at Eideal and Davines Arabia.

“This technique creates the ultimate vibrant strands of colour that look even better as they grow out.”

Ruben Gutierrez Rubio, senior stylist at Pastels Salon in JBR and Jumeirah, has seen a marked increase in clients asking for foilayage this year already.

“The foilayage technique can be adapted to short or long hair to incorporate a plethora of shades, from ash blonde to warmer and more vibrant colours,” he says. “A good stylist will adapt the colour to the skin tone of each client.”

Stress less with babylights

According to experts, babylights are set to be another huge hair trend of 2022 for a natural-looking barnet.

“Babylights are delicate highlights, also created using a foil technique, but only to highlight a few strands of hair to mimic the subtle, sun-kissed hair colour often seen in children,” says Natalie Kasses, brand ambassador of L’Oreal Middle East.

“The technique involves painting bleach on to finer pieces of hair, as opposed to the thicker pieces coloured in the more commonly used highlighting method. The result is super-subtle highlights that delicately soften the look of the hair and are very low maintenance.

“Best of all, the technique can be adapted to suit any hair colour and they also grow out beautifully," says Kasses.

Fans of the look

Though foilayage is a relatively new trend, babylights have been favoured by celebrities for some time.

“Sarah Jessica Parker was one of the first to champion the trend and used babylights to brilliant effect to frame and flatter her face,” says Kasses. “Jessica Alba was an early fan of the technique, too, and it worked beautifully for her as it was in perfect harmony with her relaxed style.

“Just last week, Dakota Johnson debuted some beachy blonde babylights in her chestnut-coloured hair and her hair upgrade is a masterclass on how to get the trend right.”

Closer to home, Rubio’s client and fellow hairdresser Charlotte Nash is a huge fan of foilayage.

“Despite being a hairdresser, I’m really new to colour, and foilayage was the perfect introduction for me,” she says. “I’m a brunette and though I’ve only gone a few shades lighter, I feel sun-kissed while still looking natural.

“It’s given me new shades and dimensions, and I absolutely love it.”

Style it right

When it comes to styling both these multi-tonal looks, Rubio prefers a tousled effect.

“My favourite way to style this technique is to wave the hair as this will allow you to appreciate the dimension of the colours and shades,” he says. “Though it looks amazing on straight and curly hair too.”

Eid says the possibilities are endless. “There are countless cuts and colour combinations that help to bring out the very best in stunning tones,” he says. “I’d recommend tousled beachy waves, long layers, a layered bob and a face frame blowout.”

Show your locks some love

For Kasses, the key to great foliage and babylights is maintenance. “Look after them in the same way as you would regular highlights,” she advises. “For instance, use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners to keep them fresh and long-lasting.

“Always use a heat protection product and avoid extremely high heat. The Dyson hair tools are a great styling option as they do not damage the hair.”

Eid’s tips, meanwhile, will be well-received by the low-maintenance crowd. “The general rule is to wash your foilayage hair infrequently,” he says. “When you wash your hair every day, the beautiful colour fades quicker.

“Ideally, you shouldn't wash your hair more than two or three times a week and always use a specific range designed for blonde hair. Also invest in nourishing products that maintain the health of your hair, as well as in-salon or at-home treatments.”

Updated: January 15, 2022, 9:45 AM