Types of Hair Streaks

Opt for ombre streaks like Alexa Chung wore to the DGA theater in New York City.

Photo: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

You've probably realized at some point that all streaks are not alike. Whether you found yourself searching for words with friends or with your hairstylist, you may have noticed your mental beauty glossary is missing terms for highlights such as those that look painted on, super-skinny streaks that blend right into the hair or other interesting effects. Make your life -- and your stylist's life -- easier by matching techniques to types of hair streaks. Don't worry -- it's super simple.

Slicing

Just because you're hoping to lighten your hair up a bit doesn't mean you want to go for one all-over color -- it also doesn't mean you want super-obvious, wide streaks. If you're looking for an all-over glisten, however, ask your stylist for sliced highlights. These streaks are extremely thin -- they take up one-eighth inch of every one inch of your hair in two different tones, as Giovanni Cudia, senior stylist at James Joseph Salon in Boston, explains on ModernSalon.com. These slices are dyed throughout the top layers of your hair for a hint of sparkling color that shines through.

Balayage

You've probably seen women whose streaks look so natural that you can't figure out how they were possibly applied if not by nature herself. When these thoughts cross your mind, you're probably staring at streaks applied through the balayage technique. The reason for the non-striped, super-natural appearance is that your stylist will paint your streaks onto your hair at will with the greatest amount of lift at the tips of your hair. The best part about this look is that you'll look like you got your streaks from days spent swimming and surfing -- so chic.

Ombre

If you're under the impression that ombre streaks are a result of essentially dip-dying the ends of someone's hair in a lightening agent -- it's a bit more complicated. Ombre, a term that suggests a gradual shift from dark to light, typically includes a darker color from your roots that lightens several shades by the time it reaches your tips -- think medium brown to pale blond. Your stylist will weave streaks within your hair in increasing amounts for a believable fading effect -- expect baby-fine highlights that turn into bold chunks at your ends.

Foiling

If you ever convinced your parents to allow you to get streaks as a teenager, you might have experienced foiling. This hair-streaking technique is a method by which your stylist can grab big, wide sections of hair or extremely skinny strands of hair by bobbing the end of a comb up and down through your hair. Your stylist will lay the hair over a foil, apply the bleach or dye and then fold the foil up while the color processes. This type of streaking is ideal for a few well-placed streaks or for evenly distributed, all-over streaks.

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