Everything You Need To Know About The Hair Ribboning Technique

FYI, Chunky Highlights Are Back And Better Than Ever

photo of Jessie Amato
11 March 2019
hair ribboning
photo of Jessie Amato

Jessie Amato

Junior Beauty Editor

11 March 2019

If you’re a hair color chameleon, committing to any shade for more than a few weeks can be tricky. Should you stick with ash blonde, embrace your natural dark brown hair, or change the game with a wild hair color? Throw all of the different color techniques like balayage, strobing, and teasylights into the mix and the decision can seem downright impossible.

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, a bold take on balayage is on the horizon—and you’ll definitely want to keep this one around for a bit. The hair ribboning technique transforms your run-of-the-mill balayage into a dimensional masterpiece. Pro stylist Kristen Dunne gave us the scoop on what the hair ribboning technique is, who it’s best for, and how you can ask for it at the salon.

hair ribboning

What is the hair ribboning technique?

Whether you overheard the term at the salon or across the room at a coffee shop, the balayage hype is everywhere. The salon technique involves hand-painting highlights and lowlights throughout hair to create subtle, dimensional color. If you love the look of balayage but desire a more dramatic color change, Dunne recommends the ribboning technique.

“Ribboning is a form of balayage placement that can create a high contrast color or a very subtle color depending on the desired look of the guest and how the stylist chooses to pattern it,” Dunne explains.

Just like intertwining a ribbon through fabric, your colorist will paint color onto larger pieces of hair to create the appearance of ribbon-like highlights throughout your mane. The final look is a balayage with stunning contrast between the lighter strands and a darker base color.

“Balayage normally leaves a soft, subtle finish,” Dunne explains. “When using ribboning placement you’ll achieve bright pops of color, creating a ton of depth and movement within the hair.”

Keep in mind: In order to achieve the perfect ribbon highlights, your colorist will need to use bleach. Though bleach will always lead to damage, a trusted salon pro will work to minimize the look and feel of your hair before you leave the salon.


hair ribboning

How do you maintain ribbon highlights?

Convinced that you’re ready to take on ribbon highlights? First thing's first: We need to talk about how to care for your color. The amount of salon upkeep your hair will require depends entirely on the final look you choose. If your ribbon highlights are painted closer to your root, plan for a touch-up appointment every six to eight weeks. If you opt for a more rooted look, you can wait up to 12 weeks before heading to the salon.

If you’re brand new to the world of highlighted hair, your new ‘do deserves a revamped care routine packed with color-protecting products. Begin by swapping your regular shampoo and conditioner with a system formulated for color-treated hair. From the L'Oréal portfolio of products, we love the Biolage R.A.W Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner. Formulated with coconut milk and meadowfoam, the system helps protect color-treated hair, leaving it soft and shiny with lasting color vibrancy.

Treat your bleached mane to an at-home hair treatment like the Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Anti-Breakage Leave-In Treatment at least once a week. The leave-in treatment for damaged hair and split ends repairs, strengthens and protects hair shine. If it's a styling solution you're looking for, Redken Triple Dry 15 Dry Texture Spray is a smart choice.

hair ribboning

Who do ribbon highlights look best on?

Ribbon highlights will look stunning on any hair length or texture—but we particularly love the look on long hair. We recommend curling or braiding your lengthy mane to see ribbon highlights in their full, dimensional glory.

Now that you’re equipped with all there is to know about the ribboning hair technique, it might be time to call your colorist. You’ll want to get it on this stunning trend ASAP!

If you’re interested in the ribboning technique, use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you. 


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