Color from the Block

Fun, fresh and vibrant: the color block trend has been around for decades. And recently, fashion icons from around the globe have been playing with the look –reimagining it in bold, clever ways. Luckily, the style doesn’t have to stop at the garment industry. Versatile and eye-catching, block color is a go-to placement technique of mine, particularly when presenting in various venues, plus on platforms. Read on to get my updated take on this cool trend – and find out how you can easily incorporate this updated classic into your behind the chair work, here.

Create a ‘Point of Interest’ using Curves

Though the bulk of my behind the chair requests include progressive, dimensional work, such as hair painting and foil work – recently – I’ve been inspired by block color. I find that the technique works beautifully to enhance my single process colors. But I don’t necessarily use antiquated techniques (working in geometric shapes and inserting bold color into subsections). Rather, I’ve reimagined the look to be based off of soft curves.

  • Why curves? Working in curves just felt right. After all, the head isn’t made of sharp angles. Instead, it’s soft and round. I practiced the technique, and – the more I worked with the curvatures – the more I saw how beautifully the block color fell, veiling gently over the previous color.

Now for the ‘how’

The look pictured, here, was inspired by butterfly wings, and was implemented on a photo shoot for maximum impact. However, it can be adapted (or toned down) to suit your client’s lifestyle.


  • Start by pre-lightening. When pre-lightening strands, work in the curved subsections. Follow that curve, varying the new growth to help create a shadow root along the way. In this way, if there is movement in the hair, you won’t see a straight line at the scalp. Alternatively, you can zigzag your subsections – but keep in mind – this technique may lead to a messy (sloppy) application.
  • Shadow root technique. Apply the root color one-inch, and then apply a powder lightener (enlightener) to the mid-lengths and ends, melting the two. Next, slice-apply the root color two-inch, and then add enlightener to the mid-length and end sections, here. Lastly, apply the root color at one-half inch, and then add the enlightener to the mid-length and end sections. Repeat the sequence following the curved subsections.       

Process and shampoo out, making sure to properly prep the hair for the next step. Find out how, here.

  • Re-coloring/glossing. To gloss or re-color the hair (get my tips on glossing, here), work in slices (still in curved sub-sections) following the natural curvature of the head. Slice in the opposite direction of how you placed the enlightener slices, and alternate colors to create a contrast in saturation and tone. This technique will add another layer of dimension to the shadowed root. You can also work horizontally within the curves, slicing diagonally.

Quick tip: the relationship between the cut and color should be symbiotic. When cutting, (or working with another stylist who’s cutting) cut purposeful panels to expose the color, which lies under and between, in the subsections.

Quick-Reference Tips

  • Work in curves for block color, and you will always yield soft results.
  • Vary the new growth to keep the lines off of the root area. This is a great trick for the clients with fine hair and to create a shadowed root. 
  • When glossing or re-coloring, work the opposite direction of the pre-lightened slices to give more dimension to the shadowed root.
  • Make sure the hair is prepped for the gloss or the re-color
  • This can be done on blondes, brunettes and reds
  • Try some hair painting or Balayage in the block sub-sections 


Every 4-6 weeks; new growth only, or new growth plus gloss on the mid-lengths and ends.

Remember, hair and fashion are intimately intertwined. So, as we see fresh, bold colors emerge in the editorial world – we can implement similar styles into our work (whether on a platform or behind the chair). If you haven’t played around with block color, you’re missing out on a fun, flirty way to add dimension to your clients looks – so try it, today!