Hand-pressed highlights trend is like screen printing for hair

Sep 17, 2015 at 6:02 p.m. ET
Image: CoffeeAndMilk/E+/Getty Images

Looking for a quick way to freshen up your highlights? Well, sit down because hand-pressing is going to rock your world.

It's art. It's hair dye. It's the coolest trend in hair since ombré. It's hand-pressed highlights! And all you need to get started are a piece of plexiglass and a putty knife. Wait, what?

Redken colorist Chiala Marvici came up with the dreamy new highlighting technique in — where else? — a dream, telling Marie Claire, "I have a painting in my apartment that a friend did for me a while ago that has a lot of colors on it, and I fell asleep one night and dreamt of all these layers of paint living together on one surface. When I woke up, I thought about how beautiful that would be on the hair and how I would translate that vision onto the hair."

Marvici starts by painting a picture on a piece of plexiglass using the colors she wants for her client's hair. Once she's satisfied with all the swirls, spots, and squiggles, she lifts up a section of hair and places it over the painted glass. She then uses the putty knife (you know you were dying to see how that worked in!) to press down on the hair, saturating it with dye. Lastly, she slides the glass out slowly from under the hair, mixing and blending the dye as it goes. And no worries, the art doesn't transfer exactly to your hair, instead giving you a unique and subtle pattern.


While this all sounds fun, the real genius behind hand pressing is how much time it will save you in the stylist's chair. Traditional methods like balayage (where the colorist paints on individual highlights with a brush) and foil wrapping (where individual strands are colored and then wrapped in foil) can be pain-staking and time-consuming — usually taking 45 minutes to an hour, plus processing time. But hand pressing only takes a mere five to 15 minutes, Marvici says, getting you out and on with your day much faster.

But now for the important question: How does it look?


Pretty darn gorgeous, I'd say! Whether you're a blondie, a redhead or a brunette, this technique will give you shimmery, natural highlights. And hey, you can always use the plexiglass as wall art when you're finished!


For more hair trends to try:

Summer 2015's hottest hair color trends
Rainbow hair done right, classy and sophisticated
What is "no-poo"?