WTF Is Color Melting? Everything You Need To Know About This New Hair Trend

One of the biggest reasons I love the beauty world is because it’s constantly changing – just when you’re starting to get bored of one trend, another one comes swooping down to get you excited again. In this case, it’s color melting. “WTF is color melting?” is what I said out loud when I saw this Buzzfeed piece on what they claimed to be “the latest hair trend,” and I’m guessing you probably had the same reaction. Trying to keep up can be exhausting!

Color melting, in short, is a more natural form of the ombré hair trend that had everyone dropping the big bucks at salons a few years ago. Remember ombré? The trend where everyone was walking around with two different colors of hair? Ombré has the potential to look very, very chic, but it unfortunately also has the potential to look… well… not great. The harsh contrast between colors was something many people found to be too bold, and ombré quickly became a polarizing trend that everyone either loved or hated. Here’s a refresher:

Color melting is here to give you the ombré of your dreams. The technique softens the sharp edges that ombré is famous for, giving your hair a much more natural look. So, instead of going from dark brown to light blonde very quickly and boldly, your hair color will naturally progress and look like, well, like it’s melting. Thus the name.

Here’s another example of ombré:

Compare that to color melting:

See the difference? The color melting is not nearly as harsh, but you can still see the progression in the colors. In fact, it looks like this girl just let her roots grow out… a lot. And it actually looks amazing?

Matrix StyleLink stylist George Papanikolas talked to Buzzfeed and explained the trend a bit further: “Melting is a technique that blends the highlights with the base color of the hair so you don’t have any harsh lines. The difference between this and regular highlights is that you use multiple shades to create the ‘melted’ effect.” Check out an example of his own work:

The color melting technique essentially tricks people into believing that the many (expensive) highlights and colors in your hair happened naturally. With color melting, the transition from dark to light or light to dark or blue to green looks beautifully simple, giving off the “I didn’t try at all/I woke up like dis” vibe that so many of us want from our beauty routine.

Check out this comparison:

A photo posted by Lily Duong (@hairbylily408) on

And this major difference:

And this gorgeous example. Her hair is going into purple and STILL looks natural.

A photo posted by Lily Duong (@hairbylily408) on

But is color melting REALLY that different from another more subtle form of ombre, balayage? For those who aren’t familiar, balayage is another way to make transitioning colors look very natural. Marie Claire says: “It allows for a sun-kissed natural looking hair color – similar to what nature gives us as children – with softer, less noticeable regrowth lines. The principal idea being less is more when creating soft, natural looks.” Certainly looks very similar:

Good Morning #balayage #cologne #germany #hair

A photo posted by @chris_el_meth on

However, the technique is different. According to Marie Claire, “Balayage is applied on the surface and not saturated through the section until the very tips, otherwise you would have a streak of color that isn’t very soft at all. It can also be called a freehand technique because no foil or meche are used to create the highlights.” Balayage is very pretty, and is still very similar to color melting (in my opinion). Another example:

While balayage often refers to highlights, though (although is not exclusively highlights), color melting uses bright colors too. Check out some of the gorgeous color melting examples found on Instagram:

Pastel medley @joico #hairjoi

A photo posted by Frances Canola (@francescanola_hairartist) on

Ocean hair. #mermaidhair #hairitics #olaplex #colormelting #hairbysamstahl #bluehair

A photo posted by samantha stahl (@hairbysamstahl) on

Don’t mind me, I’m just completely obsessed with color melting. Seriously, guys, look at this (one last time):

It’s safe to say the color melting is going to be taking over… and you should jump on the trend. Ombre is cool and I’ll always love balayage, but right now, I think I might ask for some color melting in my life. Pictures to follow… maybe.

What do you think about color melting? Would you try this trend? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

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  • Ann Leigh

    Hello Gurl! I was interested in your opinion with a color idea. With Ombre and Color Melting, I see a lot of dark to light. IE, brown to red, brown to blond. What is your opinion on going light to dark? I was thinking a dirty blond to a medium red. I have been googling to see if I can find pics of what I want to do, but have been unsuccessful. What are your thoughts?