It can be done with highlights for a subtle effect or bold single-process colors.
The hair color trend has been worn on celebs like Hailey Bieber, Zendaya, J Lo, and more.
When you want that "I'm with the band" look, you make like a rock star and smudge your eyeliner. If you want that same IDGAF vibe with your hair color, there's a similar technique colorists employ: root smudging, or as some experts like to call it, "base breaking." If you haven't heard of the look, get ready - this trend is about to be everywhere in the coming months.
So what is it, exactly? Put simply, this color technique is used to soften the contrast between your base color and your highlights so it doesn't look so blatant in the regrowth stage. Think of it as the latest twist on the ever-popular ombré hair trend, only with the more strategic color application that starts higher up on your head.
"We are seeing a move away from balayage to more traditional highlights but with a smudged root called a 'base breaker' that creates a seamless blend without the rawness from the root of the highlights," said Joanna Hansford, veteran hairstylist and founder of Jo Hansford salon in London. "We love using this technique, as we often find clients say they prefer their hair after a week, once the color settles and doesn't look so stark, so this is a great way to achieve that look without waiting."
"Clients say they prefer their hair after a week, once the color settles and doesn't look so stark, so this is a great way to achieve that without waiting."
The other benefit to this low-key style is convenience and minimal upkeep, meaning it's perfect for anyone who's schedule won't allow hair color appointments every six weeks. It also works well with whatever shade of highlights you prefer, from blond all the way to red. For the most natural-looking effect, tell your colorist you want the secondary color to start an inch or two from the roots.
Or, if you're feeling bold, you can punch it up by contrasting the base break with a single-process color: "For the more daring clients, we are also picturing dark hair being emboldened by halos of a multitude of shades and tones such as reds, pinks, blues and yellows, orange, grays, and white," said Hansford. "Dua Lipa has this. This color trend can also be done without fashion colors using more defined lighter sections."
Feeling inspired? Check out the different iterations of the "base breaker" hair-color trend - and get ready to wake up with that unfussy style you've always wanted.