Hair contouring may sound like yet another gimmicky trend, but the principles behind hair contouring have always been practiced and taught to trainee hairstylists everywhere. Says Caterina di Biaise, L'Oréal Professionnel's ambassador from Australia and a three-time winner of Australian Hairdresser of the year, "One of the first modules you learn in hairdressing is face shapes. If you're at the top of your game, if a client asks you to style their hair to make them look better, automatically your mind will go to work to redesign the hair — such as adding strategic colour — to make the face look slimmer and smaller. Contouring is about changing a woman's face shape. In its simplest form, it is about bringing out the good points and hiding the bad ones. We generally are doing that, but now we have a label that's come from makeup."

According to di Biaise, "After contouring your hair, you shouldn't see where it is light and dark, it should just be a style that blends and melts in together." The process involves consultation with a trained stylist who will then determine your face shape  — common shapes include square, round, long, oval and heart shapes — before settling on an appropriate cut and then colour to slim down the face and hide your flaws. The use of light and dark as well as strategic cutting has very practical purposes, "A short forehead could use an extra large fringe for example, to lengthen the forehead. For a double chin, people don't want to draw attention it, so a stylist would use darker shades of colour to draw attention away from it. But if you have a pointy chin, you will probably have your hair shorter and the colour will be brighter there, as the eye is drawn to light," she adds.

We tried hair contouring at Formula Cut and were thrilled with the results. Salon director William Chang was quite the humble genius when it came to taming our wavy, but fine locks. Using his own unique techniques, such as wrapping my hair tightly around my head and across the face before cutting, he cut in more layers around the face to give the hair less weight around that area, but managed to make my waves more defined without looking too fluffy... no mean feat. Colourist Catherine, then went to work on the colour. The team determined I had both warm and cool tones in my skin and could take a colour from either spectrum, and weaved in darker lowlights of ash brown shades to slim down the face in specific areas, such as the cheekbone area, as well as lighter highlights at the end, for a sort of sombre effect. Again hair contouring can borrow from a variety of hair trends and techniques from balyage to babylights, depending on what needs to be achieved on the client. Explained Chang, "Hair contouring is about the placement of colour and highlights at specific areas, and it doesn't need to be very high contrast. They can be colours that are very close in tone, as long as there is the play with light and dark at the right areas." The mark of any good cut and colour? How it looks a week later. My new style is much more wash-and -wear without looking dishevelled, and though the colour has lightened, as Chang indicated it would — it still contours my jawline such that I look slimmer in selfies and photographs. 

Angelina Jolie
Another thing we didn't realise — many celebrities have been working the hair contouring trend, long before L'Oréal gave it a specific name. Says di Biaise, "Elle MacPherson's hair always has variations of light. She is a bit long in the face, so she always has dark roots and lights, to reduce the depth at the top. Angelina Jolie's colour also varies according to the seasons. She has a wide forehead and a strong jaw though, so her hair is always styled accordingly. But she has so much confidence she can wear it right off her face as well. A lot of celebrities may change their hair tone to stay in fashion, and there might be slight variations here and there, but the placement of where the colour is doesn't essentially change. The highlighting is always where it needs to be."

Now that both Jolie and Jennifer Aniston are smack back in the news, it may be interesting to note that the same future ex-husband is not the only thing they have in common. Aniston also always practices hair contouring with her hairstyles. Says di Biaise, "Jennifer Aniston always has depth in the roots, and she was one of the first famous women to introduce the concept of root stretch. With celebrities, their colours are always seamless — you don't know where they start and finish — but at the end of the day, not counting chameleon-like celebrities  like Pink or Katy Perry, many seldom change their hair colour."

Jennifer Aniston

Formula Cut is at #05-86 Far East Plaza, 6732-3902