Ginger Spice, the 90s’ queen of chunky highlights. Credit: instagram.com/spicegirlsdaily

It was the colour trend everyone wore mid-90s, loved by celebrities, models and pop stars from J-Lo to Cindy Crawford, Ginger Spice, Kelly Clarkson, and Destiny’s Child. But like many hot trends, chunky highlights went from the perfect cool colour to something much more extreme and, dare we say, less desirable.

This time around however, the trend calls for more subtle colouring techniques, and re-working the ‘chunky highlight’ also brings a freshness to hair colouring and will give those clients stuck with their Balayage some new ideas and energy. 20 years on it’s a trend that’s already been re-worn (to perfection) by both Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé and quickly picked-up by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa. The question is, are your clients ready for the look?

For the last few weeks social media has been filled with women bemoaning their ever-more exposed roots, and whilst hairdressers pleading with their clients to ‘go natural’, women are busy researching ways to colour their own hair, or getting lots of inspiration for post lock down looks. This means that when they can finally return to your salons, many of your which could lead your desperate clients will be looking for help to get their colours back on track or even be ready for a colour change.

And of course, this means they may well have come across the trend for chunky highlights already, so it could be the perfect time to think about mentioning this concept whilst doing colour consultations.

So, let’s get the conversation started!

FUSE has spoken to Christel Barron-Hough, TIGI Global Creative Technical Director and owner of STIL Salon, and Renee Valerie, TIGI US Technical Education Director, to get the lowdown on this emerging trend, looking at the idea from both a London and New York perspective.


FUSE: Why do you think this trend has re-evolved?

CHRISTEL: Fashion evolves every season and so do hair colour trends. This means when certain decades come back into fashion, there is always a little tweak to the colours we are promoting so that they look modern and fresh, and not old-fashioned. Be aware that a direct copy will almost always look old-fashioned.

RENEE: Chunky is back for sure, but this time with a new twist. I am seeing and doing more of a ‘strip’ of blonde, as opposed to stripes throughout. You could say, almost like a stripe, as opposed to stripes!

Chunky’s back, but as a ‘strip’ of blonde. Credit: @Renee.Valerie
Renee has been using the Alice Band technique in the TIGI NY Academy

FUSE: Where did the trend begin?

RENEE: It is definitely an evolution from the 90s and early 00s. My references are the look worn by Lene Nystrom from the Scandinavian pop group Aqua during the 90s, brought up to date with the current culture for ‘E-Girls’.

CHRISTEL: The striped effect has been around since the 80s and was first seen on celebrities such as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Then in the late 90s it re-emerged and took on a more ‘grunge’ feeling as worn by Cindy Crawford and Geri Halliwell.

FUSE: Is this a concept you’ve already been developing?

CHRISTEL: Having seen the influence of late 90s’ fashions, it was something that we picked up on at the end of last year, but this time around we are working slightly differently, as it’s more feminine and delicately placed around the face.

RENEE: Absolutely! Pre-Lockdown this was a trend we were already seeing develop in NYC and I have been working on techniques for some time.

Renee adds contrast with Blush Pink tones
Credit: @Renee.Valerie


FUSE: Can you share techniques?

CHRISTEL: There are two main techniques we are using:

The Alice Band Technique: This is based on placing a lighter stripe around the face. However, it is slightly more delicate now than how it was back in the 80s and 90s. This has been a super popular technique with our younger clientele in their 20s and 30s and started to really take off towards the end of 2019.

The Dua Lipa Stripe: This is slightly more 80s’ inspired as it’s wider at the front and more of the hair is covered with a different colour to create a chunky feeling. This has been very popular with girls in their 20s and I see it as a trend that will strengthen once we’re back at work.

RENEE: Of course, it is always about customising the trend to the client in your chair. I find I prefer to pre-lighten the “stripe” in foil, then tone. The decision here all depends on the person in my chair, but high contrast is the key. I really love the effect when it’s a bit more of a ‘grunge’ look and rawer. My current favourite colours are a Washed Denim Blue tone or, to give contrast on a brunette, a Soft Blush Pink tone.

FUSE: Do you have any favourite formulations?

CHRISTEL: To create the Alice band we use bleach, followed by a toning technique. For example:



True Light White
+Activator 20vol/6%

Gloss 10/02
+Gloss 66/65
+Activator 8.5vol/2.55%

Gloss 9/21
+Gloss 6/08
+Activator 8.5vol/2.55%

RENEE: I really love toning with pastels on brunette bases and using more saturated, stronger tones on blondes to accentuate the contrast. I pre-lighten with True Light White and use toners on a very pale yellow undertone. Here are two of my current formulations:



40g Gloss 10/08
+10g Gloss 9/12
+1g Creative 1/1
+Activator 5vol/1.5%

40g Gloss 10/02
+20g Gloss 9/21
+2g Gloss 6/6
+Activator 5 vol/1.5%

Are you ready to dial-up your clients’ hair and encourage them to be experimental with playful, bolder contrast colours? We think it’s time for a makeover.

Check out more face-framing colour techniques, such as the Diffused Silhouette.