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Q&A: What is Hair Colour Contouring?

February 2018January 2018

Contouring: it has been a makeup buzzword for the past few years, and now the trend is moving in to hair colour. We sat down with Maurice Meade Head Colourist, Kellie Squibb, to answer all your burning questions about this new colour technique.

Q: What exactly is colour contouring?

A: Colour contouring is a colouring technique specifically used to accentuate or soften facial features. Much like the makeup technique, hair colour contouring uses darker tones to add depth to areas that you want to appear softer or more drawn in, and lighter shades to enhance other areas or make them appear brighter. Your hair is what surrounds your face, so it can make a huge difference to how you see your face shape. It also allows us as colour technicians to work alongside our stylists to create a colour formula that works in perfectly with your haircut and style. The most ‘ideal’ (or balanced, rather) face shape is oval, so the concept of colour contouring is designed to balance out a variety of face shapes to make them appear more oval.




Q: What can colour contouring do for me?

A: Colour contouring is beneficial for anyone, as it doesn’t have to be the hugest difference to your existing colour – it can be as simple as taking a different approach to how we look at your existing colour. Everyone know what they do and don’t like when they look at their face in the mirror; you dress to accentuate your best assets and do your makeup to highlight the features you love the most. Colour contouring is a way of doing this with hair colour, and gives us the ability to soften areas and highlight others.

An important thing to remember about colour contouring is that it doesn’t mean that your existing colour isn’t amazing – there is nothing wrong with a beautiful, rich global colour or the radiant blonde foils that you religiously maintain every 6 weeks to hide your darker roots. Colour contouring allows us to keep doing what we’re doing with a slight twist; personalising that base colour or those foils to suit you even better. The change can be as subtle or as dramatic as you want it to be!


Square or round face: soften this face shape with lighter tones on the roots and ends, creating a shadow effect on the sides of your face.



Oblong face: balance this face shape with darker tones at the roots and jawline, with lighter tones on the lengths.



Heart shaped face: soften an angular jaw using darker tones at the roots and highlights through the lengths and ends to frame the face.


Q: How does colour contouring compare to balayage?

A: Balayage is essentially a colour contouring technique that blends tones from darker at the roots to lighter at the ends. There are lots of different techniques used by colour technicians to achieve varying balayage results. Colour contouring and balayage can be done hand in hand, with colour contouring being used more as a concept for analysing the client’s face shape and customising their balayage to suit their individual needs. This could include:

  • Adding more depth around the face
  • Creating a darker shadow underneath to make the hair appear thicker
  • Adding lightness around the face and ends, while keeping the colour deeper at the crown
  • Creating a slight change in tone to give variation and softness rather than just changing from light to dark (or vice versa)
  • Adding a few face framing foils.

Colour contouring is extremely diverse, and it’s all dependant on the client’s face shape and what is going to suit them best.


Q: Talk us through the process of creating a personalised contoured colour.

A: It all starts with the consultation – we use our Personalised Colour Chemistry system combined with colour contouring concepts to look at the client’s face shape, skin tone and eye colour. We’ll ask you what you want to enhance or soften, offer guidance and map out the perfect customised colour formula for you.  There are a number of techniques that can be used to create the final look – freehand colour/ hair painting is one of our favourite techniques for customised colour contouring. It is a freeform, highly visual way of hair colouring, with varying lightness and depth being painted on to a specific sectioning pattern on each client. This creates seamless blends of tones and variation that add texture and dimension to your colour.


Q: What sort of maintenance is required for a contoured colour?

A: As the colour is totally personalised, your maintenance is also going to be specific to you. Your colourist will advise you on the best home hair care and the amount of time before you should return for another colour. Generally speaking, we recommend an at-home toning and conditioning treatment such as Shu Uemura Colour Lustre Shade Reviving Balms, Evo Fabuloso Pro personalised colour conditioners, L’Oreal Shine Blonde or Silver Shampoo.

Some of our in-maintenance options include:

  • Colour refresh service: If you have a global/base colour with your colour contouring, this allows you to return for a $75 regrowth touch up within 4 weeks. This is perfect for concealing greys or noticeably darker regrowth between full colour appointments.
  • In-between toning or gloss: coming in for a toner or gloss between your colour appointments will keep your colour looking fresh and shiny. This will mean your colour won’t be as faded and overdue by the time your next appointment comes around.
  • In-salon rituals: a Kerastase Fusio Dose treatment will make your colour more vibrant while improving the overall condition of your hair.


Colour contouring is available at all Maurice Meade salons, with introductory packages available.


  • Cherri Brownlie says:


    I would like this, but have short hair, can this package work for me? Or is there something similar for short hair.

    Thank you for your help.

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