Perhaps it’s because it sounds romantic, or perhaps it's because we've all been braced for power cuts, but "candlelit colour" is this season’s burning hair desire. From Hailey Beiber and Zendaya to Rita Ora and Camila Cabello, it the trend giving A-listers a new season glow up, and it’s blazing a hashtag trail through social media. But what do you need to know about this hot new hair look?

“It’s all about mimicking the effect of candlelight reflecting on your hair,” Jordanna Cobella from Wella Professionals explains. “It’s different from ribbons of high contrasting tones and depths that you get from balayage or highlights. Candlelit colour is all about subtlety, with an underlying warmth to mimic the reflective tone of candlelight. Instead of sun-kissed, think candle-kissed!”

Hailey always leads the way with beauty trends

To achieve that luscious flicker on your own hair, Jordanna explains that you need to go for finely scattered pieces not much lighter than your base shade. “All natural hair colours already have so many subtle tones peppered throughout. Candlelit colour is about turning those illuminations up a notch, so hair glistens as the light hits each strand.”

Zendaya sets the red carpet ablaze with her candlelit colour

What’s involved in candlelit colour?

The actual technique is quite distinct from regular balayage, in case you suspected that "candlelit colour" might just be a whizzy marketing term to part you from your cash.

“It’s a much more strategic placement of lighter pieces, so you’re bleaching less of the hair, which is ultimately better for its condition,” says Charlotte Ashley, colour specialist at Live True London, who’s giving me a candlelit brunette makeover at the salon's Soho branch. "The hair-lightening foils are also placed at an angle so you’ll see the shimmer popping through the darker pieces when your hair is loose. It looks really luxe.”

As well as being super-flattering, candlelit colour can be adapted for any hair texture or base colour, Charlotte explains. “First we use foils and bleach to lift, then we add a toner to customise the finished colour to suit your hair and skin tone. There’s so much variety you can mix up with toners, so you can find the perfect fit for everyone.”

Rita Ora shows how blondes can get candle-kissed too

How easy is the colour to maintain?

This trend ticks the “low maintenance” box, says Charlotte. “You can easily keep the results fresh by using colour-protecting shampoos and tone-correcting products.” Your initial salon toner lasts around 20 washes, and then you pop back for a simple refresh application.

Ashley Park shows how to wear the candlelit brunette look

Jordanna recommends fanning the flames of your new colour with Wella Shinefinity, a zero-damage professional glaze which I can confirm is incredible for adding lustre and richness while balancing unwanted tones. It comes in various shades and costs from £20 as an add-on to a salon blow-dry.

Will candlelit colour damage my hair?

Although candlelit colour uses less bleach than many treatments, you’ll still want to protect your hair’s condition. Ask for a bond-building treatment such as Olaplex to be added to the lightener, advises Charlotte, and use a weekly intensive moisture hair mask afterwards. Color Wow Money Masque, £39.50 here, and Pantene Pro-V Intense Hair Rescue, £10 here, are two all-time faves of mine.

Kaia Gerber is a model example of how to perfect this hair trend

What's it like to get candlelit colour?

Like any colour transformation, you'll need to block out a few hours for a candlelit makeover. Because the pieces of hair being lightened are so tiny, it does take a while for them to be teased out with a comb, painted with bleached and wrapped in foil but be patient. It's worth it!

If you look at the video, you'll see my hair did appear worryingly light and stripy as the foils were slid away, but that's the lightener sitting on top, not some sort of 80s frosting going on. Whew. Once the toner had been applied, and my hair blow dried, I was amazed and thrilled by the lush, multi-dimensional result. It's a pricey salon colour, but the result sure LOOKS expensive too.

Lynne before and after her hair makeover

Personally speaking, I can’t think of a hair colour that’s ever won me so many compliments and ‘RIGHT, who did that?’ queries – even from fellow beauty journalists who are usually unswervingly loyal to their regular colourist. I’m lit up from this one!

How can I make my hair colour pop?

The way you style your hair can really bring out its multi-dimensional tones, says celebrity stylist Sarah Potempa, whose clients include Camila Cabello.

The Beachwaver is the invention of Sarah Potempa, whose clients include Camila Cabello

“The best option for this is a soft, vertical wave created with a ceramic barrel to smooth and seal the cuticle. The polished finish and movement gives optimum colour and light reflection.” She uses her Beachwaver, £119 here, to get this look. The barrel rotates automatically, which means you don’t need pro skills to create that ‘ripples of light’ effect.

Is there an at-home alternative to candlelit colour?

Candlelight colour really is as pretty as the name suggests, but as I've already mentioned there’s a catch: the cost. While salon prices vary enormously depending on location and colourist seniority, you’re looking at roughly the same price as a regular balayage. Sorry.

However, there are at-home options you can try if you don’t want this trend burning a hole in your wallet. A DIY highlights kit isn’t something I’d ever attempt, but remember your own hair is naturally multi-tonal so it already has the flickers of candlelit colour within it. All you need to do is ignite that a little more.

The right products can enhance your hair's own natural tones

One risk-free option is to use a semi-permanent colour glaze which enhances multi-tonality and makes hair more luminous with no damage and no salon visit required. Good options include Clairol Colour Gloss Up , £8.99 here, and Wella Color Fresh Mask, £15.75 here.

Shine just on its own enhances hair’s natural shades, and whether my colour is enhanced by highlights or not, I see a big difference from using a glossing lamellar rinse like L’Oréal Paris Colour Protect Wonder Water, £9.99 here, then smoothing a reflective oil like Living Proof No Frizz Vanishing Oil, £33 here, through damp lengths before blow drying.

Is candlelit colour a trend you'd be tempted to try? Let us know what you think!


By Editor