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Everything you need to know about: Écaille

Posted on 12th October 2015 by PROinsider

First there was ombré, then there was balayage and now there’s a new partial-hair-colour technique in town called écaille. Don’t be fooled by the fancy French word, it translates into ‘tortoiseshell’. But what does a group of slow-paced, ancient reptiles have to do with hair-colour trends? Well, hair colourists everywhere are taking inspiration from the patterns found on the shells, and bringing out our inner animal by recreating the merging of honey blondes and golden bronze tones on tresses.

Still can’t picture it? We caught up with balayage expert and educator Jack Howard at Paul Edmonds to share his tips on the new A-list trend:

“Consider écaille the moody sister to ombré and bronde. Golden lights are mixed with darker, richer caramel tones while incorporating shades of honey, amber, golden-blonde and dark brown paired with gloss.”

Since it’s not the first time an animal has inspired the hair and beauty industry, we take a little look back over the trends that have been influenced by all creatures great and small…

Leopard locks

A leopard never changes its spots but that doesn’t mean we can’t experiment with the speckled pattern. Jean Paul Gautier took animal print to tresses in his AW13 show, by teaming muted fashion with big, backcombed bouffant dos scattered with white, black and brown dots.


Seductive cat-shaped eyes date back to Egyptian times, immortalised by Cleopatra’s kohl-rimmed peepers. Since then, the trend has been part of many of our daily make-up routines – with the catwalk taking the lead and transforming subtle liner into show-stopping creations as seen at Chanel AW15.

Peacock peepers

It’s no surprise that the rich, indulgent, gorgeous colours found on peacock feathers have inspired make-up artists. Eyes were washed with regal purples and vivid blues at Roberto Cavalli AW12.

The mane trend

It’s been scientifically proven* that the bigger the hair, the more powerful you feel and there’s very few animals more powerful than a lion, which is why girls everywhere try and mirror their big, wild manes. Dsquared2 AW12 injected lion-inspired volume to locks, modelled ferociously by Cara Delevingne.


Plaits and braids have taken over tresses for the past few years, and every season there’s a new style to conquer. The fishtail is quickly becoming a classic style, as seen at Tory Burch SS13 – and it’s easier than it looks. If you still haven’t mastered it, scroll down for our simple step-by-step guide.

Fishtail step-by-step

1. Loosely tie the hair into a low ponytail.
2. Divide the hair into two sections.
3. Take half-inch strands from the outer side of the section over to the opposite section, overlapping it as you would a regular plait. Repeat, working down the plait, until you run out of hair.
4. Roll the hair band down to the end and secure into place.
5. Stretch the plait out at each section to create an edgy finish.

We told you it was easy!

*maybe not ‘scientifically’ proven.

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