The combination of shades creates swoon-worthy, multi-dimensional color that looks effortless, and is an ideal way to slowly segue to all-over silver if and when the time comes. Paltrow and SJP each enjoy manes run through with different tones that work together to illuminate the face and provide warmth and luminosity to the skin, all while framing features to flattering effect. (Fun fact: Parker’s hair color is among Irwin’s most requested.) Rather than trying to hide grays, herringbone highlights leverage the silver strands, making them a flawless feature.
But how, and why, does the hair hack work, exactly? “When you’re going gray, you should avoid a chunkier highlight, because it makes the contrast appear too obvious,” says Irwin. “The technique involves highlighting tiny little pieces of hair at an angle.”
The strategy works on darker hair colors, too. “The biggest problem with darker hair color is when the grey or silver tones come through, it’s ten shades lighter than their natural color, so you can really see it,” says Irwin. “A mid-tone always works really well. I find a mid-tone, like a dark blonde, and finely weave it into the hair.” A blend of warmer beige tones and cooler shades works to create balance and prevent any dullness.
Irwin also suggests combining herringbone highlights with other modern techniques, including face-framing babylights (aka “money pieces”) and balayage, which she applies to create chunky, beachy, texturized ends. The hairstylist often opts to scatter lighter pieces throughout the hair—especially on ends—to help keep looks bright and radiant.
How to Care for Gray Hair
Those looking to try the herringbone highlight technique can ensure longevity and vibrancy of color with the help of a well-honed hair care regimen. From cleansing with silver strand-friendly shampoos, like those from L’Oréal Professionnel and Better Not Younger, to soothing scalp serums and volumizing sprays, this product line-up makes going gray as cool as the tone itself.