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The Art of Balayage

{Ball-ee-ahj} : A technique for highlighting hair in which the bleach is painted on in such a way as to create a graduated, natural-looking effect

The art of the Balayage is a question I get asked frequently. "How do I say it?" "What is it?" "How is it different from highlights?" etc. So I thought I would enlighten you on the ins and outs of this beautiful technique!

The word is french for "sweeping" which is where the whole thing came from and then went worldwide because the gentle sun-kissed look is natural and bright and can be done in many different ways to all colors of hair.

The stylist uses their chosen type of bleach product, usually clay based so that it encases the hair without the use of foils and can be done in open air for processing at a slower lift. The lift means lightening the the hair (creating lift) and is meant to be a GRADUAL and subtle look. Many clients want the blonde tips during the first session, but this can only be achieved if your hair is already a light tone and doesn't need much to blonde. For hair color that is darker or even black, expect to only have subtle highlights that gradually come from a blended darker root and looks like you just spent some time in the sun. As you keep coming back to your stylist, they can lighten this look with every session in a gradual and healthy way.

How the Balayage is different from other techniques is that it does not start from your scalp and root area as a bright piece. It starts several inches down from your natural root color and blends from a darker to the lightest shade at the tips. Some also like brighter pieces around their face creating the 'sweeping' look, while others just want the blonder pieces down at the bottom. Also, the stylist is painting the hair with their own creative application, making dimension and using your haircut and style to guide where the sun-kissed sections go. This is where your stylist will consult with you on your inspiration and make sure your expectations are met.

Foilayage is the mix of a Balayage technique with foils to achieve a brighter blonde. The 'teasy method' is also a technique of doing Balayage by teasing part of the hair in the comb for a more gradual blend. The 'air-blown' technique is using a blow dryer to blow out some of the hair in each section to also achieve the Balayage look. I am sure many more methods will be created and this look will evolve with the trends and new ways of adding these pieces into the hair.

The most important thing that I have learned is that clients must realize that this is a subtle look that can gradually get brighter with several sessions, and that you cannot achieve certain blonde-ness if your hair is darker, pre-colored, or damaged. If you try to push your hair dresser into compromising then your hair will be damaged, you will get brassy pieces faster and your hair will not have a natural and gradual blend. It is always best to go slow and save the integrity of your hair texture as well as create the look you want in time.

Balayage is a great way to test out blonde to see if you like your hair a little lighter, as well as a great maintenance look because you can go a bit longer in between appointments with your natural root blend.

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