When it comes to summer hair, the “money piece” reigns supreme this season. 

What is it? To put it simply, it’s a face-framing color technique in a hue that stands apart from the rest of your hair. The process is much less elaborate than a full head of highlights, works on all types of hair, takes much less time in the chair, requires little upkeep and … here’s the clincher … can cost almost half the price of more elaborate color treatments, hence the name. 

“I’m seeing more of it on Long Island,” says Krista Bennett DeMaio, the founder of beauty website libeautyscene.com that keeps tabs on what’s happening in the beauty industry here. “I think the money piece is a great way to brighten up for summer, not spend a lot of money doing it, and not have a lot of maintenance.”

Truth told, the style is just one more fashion nod to the ‘90s when chunky highlights were queen. Re-emerging slowly but surely over the past couple of years, Beyoncé made seismic news with the add of a caramel money piece to her dark hair in 2020, and likewise, Dua Lipa did a contrasting gold. A year later, supermodel Bella Hadid shot a fiery copper money piece into her brunette locks; Lizzo went for a blond version. Today, well it’s almost commonplace, thanks in part to TikTokers, Instagram and influencers. But what’s new for regular folks is a fearlessness about going for drama, boldness, contrast and yes, crazy color.

Why try it? 

At Sivana Salon in St. James, hair color specialist Emilie Padnick is known for her mad money piece skills and does at least one almost every day. “It’s popping,” she says. “I do a lot of bold in my chair, that’s normal for me, and lately, I have clients who are stepping outside their comfort zone.”

Padnick credits the surge in popularity to fashion’s embrace of the '90s and Y2K including “nameplates, the patterns and bright colors.” But even more so, she describes the service as “a good refresh. You’re brightening up and highlighting the whole face, and in the right color, it’s going to accentuate your eyes and skin tone.” Padnick’s clients can be in and out in about an hour as opposed to two-and-half for a whole head, and a money piece runs $125 while the full head is $215.

Sarah Mason, 22, of Coram, gets her hair colored by color...

Sarah Mason, 22, of Coram, gets her hair colored by color specialist Emilie Padnick at the Silvana Salon in St. James. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Likewise, Michelle Wiggins, a color specialist at Gemini Salon in Nesconset, sees the trend’s return as retro. “The '90s is back with a vengeance especially with hair. It’s like a throwback to Avril Lavigne with that headband of blonde in front of her face,” she says. And boredom with same-old, same-old highlighting may have propelled more vivid money pieces into the mainstream, says Wiggins. She adds, “It’s very customizable. Anyone can wear it and the right color adds brightness to the face.” Here you might pay $185 for a dramatic face frame, while more complex color services could run from $215-$600.

And here’s a little bonus, a good money piece can camouflage gray hair in the front says Brie Vaccaro, a stylist and colorist at Hair Magicians in Wantagh. “A lot of women are very self-conscious about going gray and baby lights in the front can soften and blend with gray. Here, the service will run you $90 versus $175 for a whole head of highlights.

The money piece has face value

The money piece may be worth its weight in gold when it comes to self-image as women of all ages swear by the positive effects it has on their looks and how they feel about themselves. Riley Stanek, 18, says she’s “obsessed” with her platinum blonde curtain bangs which she gets at SM Styles Studio in Smithtown. “I really, really, really like having it and get a lot of compliments,” she says emphatically. “I feel like without it, my hair is a poufy mess. It makes me feel better and I think it gives me a spark and makes me happy,” she says adding that many of her friends have followed her lead to the same salon.

The style shows her personality, says Renee Andolina, 38, an art teacher at Hicksville High School who is a devoted client of Wiggins and regularly sports “funky” colors in her hair such as teal, bright blue and pink, though purple is her favorite. “It’s part of me and fits with my whole vibe,” she says. “It’s a confidence boost.”

Then there’s Jazbrielle Valentin, 26, a waitress from Bay Shore, whose colorist, Padnick, “has encouraged me to go bolder and crazier and take risks and I love it,” she says of her mega-contrasting white money piece which explodes against her dark hair locks.

"It makes me feel fresher and more myself rather than boring hair. Emilie describes me as ‘extra’ and I do take risks with my makeup and clothes.”

There was a bit of hesitation about this look, says Valentin. “I wasn’t sure I could pull it off but since the moment I stepped out of the salon I've gotten compliments from random people.”


DIY Money Piece

Even though the money piece is less expensive than other hair color services, it can still cost a pretty penny. Of course, there are always drugstore varieties which start at under $10. There are tutorials galore on social media if you’re willing to try it on your own.

Clairol even has a help line where a real person — a color specialist — can talk you through the basic steps and the products you’ll need (1-800-252-4765).

And if you want to amp up or change up your fading, bleached face framer with some mega-color, your easiest bet might be No Fade Fresh ($14.99 at Rite Aid, Walmart, CVS and nofadefresh.com), a clever plant-based color depositing shampoo and conditioner containing semi-permanent dye invented by Leland Hirsch, a well-known colorist who lived in Roslyn.

He says, “On hair that has been bleached or color treated, it’s really easy to use and fun with a wide range of color choices from subtle to bold.” All you have to do is section off your existing face frame and evenly massage the product into your hair leaving it on from 5-20 minutes depending on how much color you want to deposit. Then, simply rinse until the water runs clear.