| October 4, 2013

Just when you thought you'd seen every hair trend around, yet another one makes its way to the beauty pages — and it's called the ecaille.

Also known as the “tortoiseshell technique,” the ecaille features golden highlights that will make your mane appear shiny and sun-kissed, paired with darker, rich caramel tones.

READ: Need a Hair Makeover? Ease Into Ombre

“This color trend is a wonderful way to quickly warm up and add dimension to your hair while adding an overall shine, which is great for fall when one’s natural hair and color can begin to appear dry and flat due to climate change,” explains stylist Allen Ruiz, whose work has appeared for fashion houses Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, among others. “It’s always nice to richen up your hair color in the fall when you start to wear darker clothes.”

Kitty Greller, senior colorist for Ted Gibson in New York City, also reveals the ecaille is already notable in Paris and coveted by several Hollywood actresses and models.

“A majority of my clients love their sun-bleached ombre pieces, but as fall and winter arrive, deeper colors start to emerge in fashion and many want to be darker and deeper as well,” says Greller. “This is a great way to keep their lighter pieces without being so dramatic.”

Despite being a head-turning look from the runways, the ecaille isn’t the easiest color to transition into. To find out whether you should rock tortoiseshell tresses this season, check out these tips and tricks for making this stylish hue work for you:

Get the Best

Since this trend is just starting to get momentum in the States, it’s crucial to visit a top notch salon where they will be more familiar with the look. Bring photos to ensure this technique is exactly what you’re paying for. “Definitely do not ask for it by name,” warns Ruiz. “Although a colorist may not be familiar with the name, once they have a visual, if they are good at what they do, they should be able to re-create it for you.”

Forget Streaks

Hollywood colorist George Papanikolas says ecaille is hot right now among models and celebrities because its golden multi-tones can enhance nearly any hair color. “Do ask for various tones, deeper at the roots and lighter at the ends,” he says. Make sure the hair tones don’t appear too streaky as it will appear more like standard highlights than the ecaille — and not worth the extra investment.

Keep Your Skin Tone in Mind

Like with any hair color, it’s important to make sure it suits your skin tone. “If you are fair or pale, adding some golden tones can add vibrancy,” explains Erick Orellana, colorist for Sally Hershberger Salon. “If you are olive or have some red tones, some ash can give your skin a more natural, sun-kissed look.” Depending on your skin tone, you want to avoid going too bright as it will wash you out, look over processed, and appear unnatural.

Don't Go Too Bright

If you loved how luminous and wavy your mane was during those sun-soaked summer afternoons, you’ll especially adore the ecaille, which mimics this popular texture. “The tortoiseshell technique is great for fall because it plays off your natural hair, which is most likely going to be a shade darker,” says Ray Salazar, celebrity stylist at Nelson J Salon in Beverly Hills. “It will enhance your natural appearance by softening the edges around your face. The sun naturally softens the parts of our hair that are more porous and mature.” Salazar also suggests going no more than 2-3 shades lighter than your natural hair color, especially around the face.

If You're Blonde

"The ecaille is great for the blonde who wants to go darker for fall, but doesn’t want to be chained to it,” explains Greller. “All one needs to do is darken the base color a bit, add signature dark pieces, and gloss it.” Model Rosie Hungtington-Whiteley is praised for her take on the tortoiseshell technique, featuring champagne-hued tresses blended with warm caramel. It frames her face, all while appearing natural looking and downright gorgeous.

If You're Brunette

"Ecaille is also great for the brunette who doesn’t like a lot of maintenance, but wants a change for the fall,” adds Greller. “Just add balayage highlights (when color is applied by hand rather than with foiling) and a gloss to keep it rich.”

Don't Try This at Home

If there’s one color that stylists say you should never try at home, it's the tortoiseshell because it involves highlighting with various tones to perfectly match your hair color, as well as glossing to brighten your overall mane.  “There is a lot that goes into this technique and can easily be misconstrued with an at-home box color," warns Greller.

Be Prepare to Spend

While this hair color can make you look effortlessly polished daily, it can be pricey to achieve. “Do make sure you are ready for the maintenance that it will require, which could include monthly glossing or highlight touch-ups every few weeks,” says Greller.

To Look Younger, Ask for Blended Tones

“Ecaille is a more grown-up and sophisticated version of ombre,” insists Deb Gavin, international artistic director of color therapy for Keratin Complex. “Instead of a ‘grown out’ version of highlights, it is more tone-on-tone, yet blended throughout the hair. It can be created in an easy way by incorporating two shades that are in the same family, but no more than two levels apart.”

Know the Difference

Remember, ecaille is ombre’s moodier sister and the two should never be confused. If your stylists insist they’re both the same, that’s your signal to visit another salon. “Do not make your hair too light in color, otherwise you are just getting an ombre,” says Salazar. “Also, avoid getting a noticeable line of separation of darks and lights. When seeing a professional be sure to let them know you want to maintain a natural look with softness around the hairline and ends.”