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  • Writer's pictureKiki Carter

Balayage: Level Up Your Hair Color

When changing your hair color, the difference between highlighting and balayage techniques can be so nuanced that it is challenging to decipher which is which. Both color techniques have their advantages when you want a specific look, which is why knowing exactly what balayage is will help you make the perfect decision for your hair.

Fortunately, we've got you covered in all things blonde, including the low-down on the highlights of the iconic balayage technique. Let's break down this hot hairstyle trend to settle once and for all what sets this look apart from all the rest.

Balayage: Hand-Painted Highlights

Pronounced Bah-lee-age, 'balayage' is French for 'sweeping.' Using free-hand painting as a hair color technique, balayage sweeps lightener onto the hair. By painting the lightener in a sweeping motion onto the hair, the look results in a softer and more natural gradation of lightness to the ends. Balayage gives the perfect sunkissed beach hair and the fresh and unintentional highlights of childhood. This highlighting technique offers a natural-looking upgrade for blondes and adds dimensions to darker hair color shades.

While variations in the balayage application exist, the overall look is identifiable by the technique. Some colorists prefer to separate the hair using dividers before applying the lightener, and others don't separate the hair at all. These application nuances produce slightly varied results, making the balayage style customizable, natural-looking, and longer lasting as it grows out.

The Difference Between Balayage and Highlights

In general, a highlight is a term that refers to hair that is lightened from its base color. Highlights can occur naturally through sun exposure or put in place to bring a base hair color lightness and definition. Contrary to what most people think, highlights are for all hair colors, not just blondes. Darker shades of hair colors can have highlights applied to give the look depth and add dimension to its styling.

Colorists apply highlights using a method called "foiling," where sheets of foil are used to separate sections of hair that are then covered with a lightener or color and wrapped. The foil helps keep the color in place and traps heat, which aids the chemical process that lifts the hair color.

When a colorist uses the balayage technique to apply highlights, the process is applied free-hand, with no foil needed to separate the hair. Balayage creates a natural, soft gradation of lightness along the strand of the hair, typically deeper color near the root and lighter towards the ends. Highlights may begin near the crown of the head, and balayage will be more focused on the mid-shafts and ends of the hair. This effect gives a "grown out' blonde look that is easy going yet high in style.

Balayage is Customizable for Your Unique Look

Balayage is often considered an umbrella term for versions of the technique that make it more customizable to your unique look. Ombre and Sombre are two versions that focus on the result rather than the technique itself. Ombre is an edgier, more drastic version of balayage with stark transitions from dark to light. Sombre is a softer look, characterized by less drastic color change for a sunkissed transition. If you are unsure about the look you want to achieve with balayage, we are happy to assist you.

Caring for Balayage Hair

Fortunately, balayage hair is pretty simple to maintain, especially if you already have a healthy hair care routine. Please speak with us about product recommendations that keep your color from becoming brassy and how to touch up your roots without sacrificing your beautiful balayage look.

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