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How to Embrace the Tiger Eye Hair Color Trend

28 August 2017
Woman with fine brunette hair middle parted
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Every woman is hunting for her dream hair color. The details may differ, but the description is always the same: She wants a shade that will make her skin look more even, slim her face, and simultaneously make a fashion statement.

Sounds like the unicorn of the hair world, right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. We’re pleased to announce that there’s a hair trend out there that really does do all those things. Tiger eye hair is a caramel and honey swirl of shades that’s perfect for every complexion. With its dark roots and painted-on accent colors, tiger eye hair is quietly taking over girl world.

To catch you up on this delicious color trend, we enlisted Redken artist Laura Carmichael. She’s about to take on all our questions about tiger eye hair color, and what exactly makes this trend so different from all the others.

Interestingly, this isn’t an entirely new trend. It’s just taken some time to gain popularity within the hair community.

Ready to learn more about the hair trend Carmichael and her clients can’t get enough of? Keep reading.

What is tiger eye hair color?

When in doubt, start with the simplest question. We’ve seen a lot of trends within the last few years that encourage artists to play with brunette and blonde shades simultaneously. But tiger eye is different from your standard bronde or ombre.

First of all, the technique was originally known as “ecaille,” the French word for tortoise shell, a name should give you a visual of swirling browns, reds, and golds. Today’s version is a much darker take on the dappled color.

According to Carmichael, however, there’s more than one origin story for the shade.

“About three years ago, I began to notice [the color] on the red carpet,” she says. “The color palette is inspired by the tiger’s eye gemstone. Rich browns, golds, and caramel hues! It's absolutely stunning and really hasn't evolved much in the last couple of years.”

If you’re looking for a color that won’t ever go out of style—Carmichael lovingly calls it “timeless”—tiger eye hair is the way to go. In twenty years, your children will look at old photos and brag about their mom’s good looks. That’s what we’re all secretly aiming for, isn’t it?

Who should give tiger eye hair color a try?

Keep asking the easy questions. You may already have seen this answer coming, but it’s a short one: Every woman. There’s no risk in trying this technique since it flatters all skin tones and ages equally.

“I don't really see many downsides,” Carmichael says. “I believe women are drawn to the richness of it—this is truly a beautiful and captivating look and it draws the eye.”

There’s only one caveat, according to the hair pro. Because tiger eye hair starts with a deep base, women with naturally dark hair will have a much easier time maintaining the color than their towheaded companions.

“If you are already brunette and love your natural color, this look could easily be tri-annual hair where you are going into the salon three times a year for color refreshes,” Carmichael adds.

If you slip up and forget to schedule a touch-up appointment at the salon, have no fear. No one will know your mane secret, and your roots will grow out evenly.

What kind of maintenance does it take to keep up this hair look?

That brings us to the point that’s often dreaded when discussing hair color: maintenance. It’s one thing to fall in love with a dappled, beautiful hair color, but quite another to budget the time and money to touch it up regularly.

When it comes to tiger eye strands, however, you’re in luck.

“One amazing perk is that [the color] is way less maintenance than traditional highlights because the line of demarcation is diffused, so it grows out beautifully,” Carmichael explains. “If there is a root or base color involved, you might be in more often for touch ups, but still you are only getting highlights every couple of months.”

As far as hair color goes, those are some seriously low maintenance demands. That makes the ecaille technique optimal for busy ladies on the go. Whether you’re a mom who’s just trying to look like you got more than four hours or sleep or a young professional putting in long hours to get ahead, tortoiseshell hair plays nicely with your lifestyle.

Just because the color is easy, it doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook for the at-home care. Carmichael is quick to recommend a weekly application of Redken pH Bonder Post-Service Perfector. In just 10 minutes, the formula can help to repair weak bonds and strengthen hair.

Follow up your treatment with Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner. The duo uses an ultra-gentle formula to cleanse freshly colored hair and help maintain vibrancy for up to four weeks.

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