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Balayage has been around for a while, but this timeless technique has crept its way back into the best hair salons as one of the most popular and oft-requested styles.
Want the low-down on its sheer magic? We’ve spoken to the some of the leading experts to get some professional insight into this much-loved hair trend.
What is balayage hair?
The term balayage is taken from the French word for ‘sweeping’. ‘It’s a freehand hair colouring technique that gives a really blended, natural look with no harsh or obvious regrowth lines,’ royal and celebrity hairdresser Richard Ward tells us.
‘I love Balayage,’ says Adam Reed, Editorial Ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel Paris. ‘It’s such a beautiful technique and one that really showcases the craft and artistry of the professional and in-salon colour.’
Balayage allows for a sun-kissed, natural looking hair colour, with softer, less noticeable re-growth. The principal idea being less is more when creating a natural, multi-tonal finish. The technique uses patches of light and shade to create multiple dimensions to the colour.
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Balayage is quite different to traditional highlights, because no foil is used and the colour is painted on freehand. The finished result is ‘less uniform than typical highlights’ says Richard Ward. If you’ve ever been worried about having stripey colour after a visit to the hairdresser’s, balayage is a sure way to avoid that harsh contrast between colours – especially if you’re going blonder.
The colour created is totally bespoke to you and can even be placed in a way to compliment or distract attention away from certain features on the face. It’s a great method if you want to refresh your colour but don’t want a bold overhaul of your look.
How do you create the perfect balayage?
The secret ingredients to a perfect in-salon balayage are normally kept under wraps. Thankfully, we have Daniel Galvin OBE on hand to share his top tips for the best balayage.
‘First is the blend, it’s super important that the colourist has the skill to apply the colour properly. They must use the right technique so that it looks like the colour comes from nowhere. Then, the colour choice should never be more than three shades lighter than the natural hair colour, this will ensure you get a ‘sun-kissed’ look.’
Want to ensure your stylist is putting the colour in the right places? Daniel has the answers: ‘The front section should be the lightest part of the hair as this is what shapes your face. Also, your colourist should allow your natural colour to take centre stage, this is how to achieve the best results.’
How is balayage applied?
Balayage is painted on the surface of the hair strand and not saturated through the section until the very tips. This ensures a smooth, blended stroke of colour. It can also be called a freehand technique because no foil or meche are used to create the highlights.
How long does it take?
The depth of balayage can vary so much from a ‘few small highlights that will only take a matter of minutes to a full on, triple process look that can take up to 3 hours,’ says Josh Wood, master colourist and Redken’s Global Colour Creative Director.
It can take quite a long time to do a multi-tonal, layered balayage compared to regular colour. But the benefit of the application means you will be able to leave longer between your next colour appointment. If you want a few balayage babylights, this can take as little as 45 minutes.
Why is balayage so popular?
Ten years ago balayage wasn’t the colouring phenomenon it is today, it’s quite a specific method of colouring that hasn’t been widely taught in the UK until recently. Balayage ‘is especially popular with celebrities and is a classic look for the red carpet’ says Richard Ward. After spotting it on celebrities like Gisele, Chrissy Teigen and Jessica Alba, there has been a surge in interest for the technique as people are requesting the look.
‘There is currently a slight turn away from the standard balayage look to something more subtle,’ explains Josh. ‘We are looking at low-fi colour but high-fi condition. Multi-tonal, natural effects are what we’ve been perfecting for the runway and now in the atelier.
‘You should question whether it’s actually coloured or not; it’s about a low-key, hyper-natural vibe. For the high-fi condition, I would recommend the Redken in-salon glossing treatment. The Redken ‘Toning Tweakments’ in-salon service menu includes the ‘Balayage Booster’, a Shades EQ gloss shot.
‘These are demi-permanent colour that have been coined the ‘lip-gloss’ of hair, due to their conditioning properties that give a flawless shine and vibrancy. Non-committal, easy in-salon use – colour that enhances hair condition.’
Some celebrities who love balayage include Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Olivia Palermo, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus.
And don’t think just because you don’t have long hair you can’t achieve the look. No matter how short your hair, you can rock balayage. Case in point? Ruby Rose’s balayage pixie crop.
Does it require a lot of maintenance?
‘Typically balayage requires far less maintenance than traditional colour. It grows out beautifully and there are no strong regrowth lines,’ says Richard Ward. It also means you can wait for longer between appointments so it’s ‘the perfect technique for a modern, busy woman.’
‘If you want to make your balayage last as long as possible, opt for a babylight – it’s the most subtle type of colour you can go for,’ advises Josh Wood. Investing in some good quality colour care styling products is also advisable to keep your colour looking fresh for longer. For example, have a look at hair toners or one of the best purple shampoos.
If your colour turns brassy after a while you can ‘refresh it without going for a full top up with a toner or gloss to give your shine back.’ says Wood.
Grace Lindsay, Marie Claire’se-commerce writer loves her balayage because of how easy the upkeep is. ‘I will never go back to highlights after getting balayage. It allows me to lighten my locks without having to get my roots touched up every couple of months. Plus, I only have to get it done about twice a year so I save money too.’
Is it suitable for all hair types/lengths?
‘Balayage is for all, all hair types and hair colours,’ says Reed. ‘It’s a wonderfully beautiful technique that can be dialled up or down, perfectly personalised depending on the desired end finish. The key to maintaining this look on all hair types is colour maintenance.’
It works on both light and dark hair depending on how much lighter you want to go and all hair textures. You can ask for balayage to blonde or balayage for brown hair or dark hair, and your colourist will be able to tailor the style to you. Straight, wavy or curly; whatever category your hair, the colour can work well and look great.
‘Balayage works on all hair lengths apart from on very short or cropped hair (think Pixie crops),’ advises international hair colourist, L’Oréal Professional Ambassador and Marie Claire’s 2018 Colourist of the Year Jack Howard.
The technique is particularly popular amongst celebrities with long, textured hair as it creates a beautiful, beachy style.
If however, you have balayage on you short hair – let’s say a bob – and then want to try the long beach style, Hershesons recently launched a range of balayage tape hair extensions, that will seamlessly blend in. The 60-minute service includes a colour-matching consultation, fitting, cut, wash & blow-dry and the tapes should last you up-to eight weeks, and the hair can be re-used up to three times.
How long does balayage last?
One of the biggest perks of this style is that ‘it doesn’t require as much upkeep as traditional colour,’ advises Josh Wood. The blended finish means you can leave longer between your salon appointments. And depending on the style you go for you can leave up to four months between top-ups.
Maintaining balayage at home
Adam Reed explains that balayage looks its best when it’s ‘super vibrant and glossy. My favourite product to keep hair healthy and offer that glass hair effect is L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil (RRP £19.70 | Feelunique). Use this once a week and leave-in hair overnight for a deeper treatment for luscious, high-shine hair’
‘My top tip for anyone looking to have their colour done for the best result long-term is to add-on the L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox in-salon treatment. This is an incredible innovation that works to help neutralise copper levels in our water and pipes that can cause hair breakage during the colour service. This is a game changer.’
Don’t have time to go to a salon? L’Oréal Professionnel’s at-home treatment protects your hair from that pesky copper in under five minutes. Simply, cleanse your hair with the L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Metal Detox Anti-Metal Cleansing Cream Shampoo (RRP £22.50 | Lookfantatic). Then slather some of the Serie Expert Metal Detox Anti-Deposit Protector Mask (RRP £22.50 | Lookfantastic) on your mid-lengths and ends. Et violà, you’ve banished any damaging metals.
How to refresh your own balayage
If you are desperate to refresh your colour at home, read our guide on how to dye your own hair at home, and follow Carolyn Newman’s below tips on how to refresh a blonde balayage, using Schwarzkopf Permanent Colour.
1. Apply some of the enclosed treatment sachet to the lengths and ends to protect the existing blonde. This will help protect the hair – do not colour this section.
2. Mix and apply the colour to your roots first – the first 1-2 inches of your hair – and leave to develop for 15 minutes.
3. Then, using a tangle teezer style brush or wide tooth comb, pull the root colour down another 1-2 more inches, using a brush to blend so you don’t get a line and leaving the conditioner-covered mid lengths and ends. Develop for a further 10 minutes.
4. Rinse really thoroughly with shampoo (do two shampoos if required). Then use the rest of the Colour Expert treatment sachet, apply to the lengths and ends and leave to soak in for 2-5 minutes. Rinse and style as usual.
What to buy to keep your balayage looking vibrant and glossy
Keep on scrolling to shop some of the best products to help keep your colour looking fresh in between appointments…
John Frieda Violet Crush Intensive Purple Shampoo, £7.99 | Boots
This is one of our beauty editor’s favourite purple shampoos, and is perfect for keeping brassy tones at bay if you’ve opted for blonde balayage. Not only is it super affordable, but you’ll see results in just one wash. Top tip, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Redken Colour Extend Brownlights Shampoo, £20 | Lookfantastic
For those with brunette hair, this blue shampoo by Redken combats unwanted orange tones. It is specifically designed for both natural and highlighted hair, and the brand recommends using it four to six weeks after having your balayage done.
L’Oréal Professional Serie Expert Metal Detox Anti-Metal Cleasning Cream Shampoo, £26 | Lookfantastic
As mentioned above, this shampoo is designed to brighten and protect colour-treated hair. It works to wash away the water-induced copper deposits that can affect the hair’s vibrancy.
Sisley Hair Ritual Regenerating Hair Mask, £76 | John Lewis
Our e-commerce writer swears by this hair mask to keep her blonde balayage looking shiny. Although it’s not specifically designed for coloured hair, the oils intensely nourish the hair fibre, helping to counteract any dryness from the bleach.
K18 Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask, from £9 | Cult Beauty
Another great mask is this one from K18. It is infused with their unique patented K18Peptide that works on a molecular level to repair even the most extreme damage. Salon-worthy locks in no time.
Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil, £28 | Lookfantastic
For a glossy finish, try the Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil. It contains the same pioneering bond-repair technology as the rest of the range, helping to tame the appearance of frizz and flyaways and enhance luminosity and colour vibrancy.
What’s the difference between ombre and balayage hair?
Balayage is a totally blended hair look, there are no lines or blocks of colour and the graduation between shades is much more subtle. Some lengths of the hair are kept darker for a seamless colour finish.
Ombre hair has a more defined contrast between the roots and tips of the hair with colour starting mid-way down the strands. Ombre colour ‘is a more noticeable, statement look compared to balayage,’ says Richard Ward. Want to know more? Check out our round-up if want to find out more about ombre.
Does balayage work on grey hair?
The style works for all colours but, ‘the only thing is it won’t cover grey hair,’ advises Josh Wood. ‘It will only help blend in the grey to disguise it so if you want full coverage for greys it might not be the right choice for you.’
Does balayage damage hair?
Some good and bad news for you here. Lots of stylists agree that balayage is a lot less damaging than a full head of bleach or getting your roots done every six weeks. Thanks to the lack of foils and heat, your hair will be less dry and processed when your do is complete. That said, balayage is a chemical treatment so expect for some dryness.
Don’t worry too much though, our handy guides to the best shampoo for dry hair and best hair masks will bring back any lustre you’ve lost.
What makes it timeless?
Balayage creates a totally bespoke, personalised colour finish. Healthy, natural looking hair will always be ‘in’, which is why the technique has remained popular for so many years. Depending on what you’re looking for the finish can be subtle or quite bold. It’s the ability to completely tailor the colour effect that makes this such a popular colour choice.
Keep scrolling for a few of our favourite balayage looks from the A-listers (and their expert colourists).
Why is balayage so popular? ›
Another reason why balayage is so popular is that it works brilliantly with all hair types and lengths – straight, curly, wavy, short, long, thick and thin. With thinning hair, the choice of colours that come with a balayage style can be a great way to add depth to your hair to make it look visually thicker.How do you explain a balayage to a hairdresser? ›
"Balayage" (taken from the French word for "sweeping") is a freehand colouring technique. Colour is painted directly onto designated sections of the hair without using foil. The result is a more natural, sun-kissed hue, without any harsh contrast between colours.Why is balayage better for your hair? ›
Because Balayage highlights don't involve completely saturating your hair in bleach or color dye, you'll enjoy healthier hair because of less process on the hair. As a result, you get to enjoy softer, silkier hair with less damage and dryness.What the heck is balayage? ›
Balayage is a highlighting technique that produces gorgeous natural highlights by hand painting the top of the hair strand with color or lightener. The results can be subtle or dramatic depending on your desired look but the end result is always softer at the scalp and bolder at the ends.How long does a balayage last? ›
How long does Balayage last in your hair? One of the greatest advantages of Balayage is how long it lasts. Traditional foil highlights require touch ups every few weeks, whereas Balayage will last 3-4 months on average.Why is balayage more expensive than highlight? ›
It depends on a lot of factors—like if your hair has been dyed before, or how long your strands are. However, in general balayage does take a bit longer than foil because the stylist goes through piece by piece to customize the color. This highlighting technique is also a bit more expensive.Do they cut your hair before a balayage? ›
“Getting a fresh cut or trim before highlights allows your colorist to tailor the highlights to the cut.” This can be especially important if you're getting balayage and the color is focused towards the ends of the hair. “If you do the cut after the highlights, you can cut off the brightest ends,” he says.What looks better balayage or highlights? ›
"Highlights are often placed much closer to the scalp and applied in specific sections while the balayage process includes a graduated painting the color onto the hair in random sections," says Rivera. If you are looking to add non-uniform chunks or sweeps of color, balayage is a better option.Do they wash your hair when you get balayage? ›
You shouldn't wash your hair beforehand. If you're adding highlights with balayage, you should come with oily hair to protect the scalp. But if you're getting a single process, it's better to come with clean hair to help the color hold, Scrivo says.Is balayage cheaper than highlights? ›
While prices vary from salon to salon, balayage is typically more expensive than highlights. Balayage can create a total hair transformation, but highlights just add a pop of color and dimension to your mane, which requires much less time, training, and dye.
Does balayage look good on thin hair? ›
A well created balayage can make thin hair look thicker. As well as creating the illusion of thick hair looking lighter. This is all because a balayage plays with light and dark tones, creating different visual effects.How often should you balayage your hair? ›
Balayage. Hair grows fast — about an inch per month. So techniques, like balayage, which involve hand painting the hair and not going all the way to your roots, help you to get a gorgeous look with less maintenance. In general, we recommend scheduling a balayage touch up every 12-14 weeks.What's the difference between a balayage and a balayage? ›
Balayage involves sweeping lightener down the mid-lengths and ends of the hair to create that beautifully blended look we all know and love. Foilyage involves the same sweeping method, however, sections of hair are wrapped in foil instead of being left to air dry.Which is better balayage or ombre? ›
Whether ombré or balayage is best for you depends on the color effect you want, like going blonder or lowlights. “If you want to go lighter with a lived-in color look, then balayage highlights would be best,” explains Guy. “Ombré is great for those who are already light and want a lower maintenance color.Is balayage Still in Style 2022? ›
Subtle balayages are still very popular. I'm seeing a lot more requests for natural, copper reds and mahogany tones as well!”What should you not do after balayage? ›
Don't wash your hair for at least three days
After getting your balayage, wait for at least three days before you wash your hair. The purpose of doing this is to allow the cuticles to close and the color to set. You also should avoid getting the hair wet during these days, so avoid engaging in strenuous exercises.
The general rule is to wash your balayage hair sparingly. Too much washing may end up damaging the quality of your balayage. When you wash your hair every single day, the beautiful colour in your hair will fade more quickly. Ideally, you shouldn't wash your balayage hair for more than 2 or 3 times each week.How many sessions does it take for balayage? ›
Depending on your desired results and the current color and condition of your mane, your balayage can take anywhere from one to three appointments. We always recommend booking a consultation with your colorist before you commit to making any permanent hair color change.What is a reasonable price for a balayage? ›
Though balayage is expensive, the exact price depends on your particular salon and stylist. Typically, balayage costs between $70 to $300. By comparison, a full head of regular highlights only costs around $75 to $150.Is balayage worth the price? ›
Balayage is great for anyone who wants to try highlights that look natural, last longer than traditional highlights, and don't need much upkeep. Depending on where you go, it can cost a lot upfront, but it can be worth it since you won't visit the salon too often afterward.
Is it worth getting a balayage? ›
As you can see, there is quite a bit to love about the balayage technique. Not only does it result in a much more natural look, but it will maintain its appearance as your hair grows. This helps you avoid dealing with the shock of your natural roots meeting bright blonde highlights.
When it comes to gray coverage, balayage and foilyage have several benefits over traditional highlights. Favoring a balayage technique for gray blending services allows you to cover a larger surface area and avoid leaving out as much hair. Doing so leaves the client with a natural and youthful look.What should I expect for my first balayage? ›
What to Expect During the Process. With balayage, your colorist hand-selects which sections or strands of hair will have lightener applied to them. Typically, lightener is more highly concentrated on the face-framing pieces of the hair, the ends, and the top layer of hair for a more dimensional look.How should I prepare for a balayage? ›
How Should I Prepare For My Balayage Hair Colour Appointment? Make sure you have a patch test 48 hours before your appointment. Make sure your hair is clean and don't over use products before you come in. Bring photos of how you would like your Balayage to look so we know what effect you would like.Does balayage look better on short or long hair? ›
The technique can work perfectly well on hair of all lengths, whether short, mid-length, or long.Does balayage need bleach? ›
As with all highlighting techniques, balayage requires lightening — and that means you'll need to have your hair bleached. Bleaching your hair can cause damage, so it's important to make sure you take care of your strands pre- and post-balayage, not only to make the color last but to keep your hair healthy.Can you mess up a balayage? ›
The easiest thing to mess up (or just plain forget) when doing a balayage process is controlling the level of saturation. These levels are dependent on the degree of pressure that gets applied when sweeping lightener over the root area so that the product penetrates the mids and ends of the hair.How long after balayage should I shower? ›
After a highlight or balayage appointment, it's good to wait between 48 and 72 hours before washing your hair.Does balayage look more natural? ›
Balayage is customized, natural-looking, and low maintenance—thanks to the blended root with no obvious line of demarcation.Does balayage look good on straight hair? ›
Balayage hairstyles are perfect for you if you want to wear the sun-kissed hair look. This technique is absolutely great for straight hair as it can add color, depth, and dimension to it. As a result, straight hair can seem thicker and more voluminous.
Does balayage include full color? ›
A full balayage is a technique where highlights are added throughout your entire mane. This is an ideal yet popular treatment for those who want an all-over lightened hair without the constant maintenance that comes with root grow out. Looking for balayage in Houston?Who is a good candidate for balayage? ›
The ideal candidate for a balayage service is someone looking for sunkissed and natural results. More specifically, this technique can be used on clients who want to achieve anywhere between 3 and 6 levels of lift.What color makes hair look thicker? ›
Brightened-up colors, such as golden blonde, can work wonders when applied to the money pieces around your face. Likewise, rich colors—like chestnut or caramel brown—can create a shadow effect throughout that feigns depth and thickness.Will balayage make hair look thicker? ›
It makes your hair look thicker
Together with a Great Cut, balayage lends hair greater depth, giving the illusion of more fullness. Think of it like comparing a 2D drawing, with a painting that's in full perspective.
Yes, a balayage can be done in one sitting. But depending on how dark your hair is, and how light you want to be, it may take several sessions (each session is charged separately). You will always leave with beautiful hair! It just may not be as light and bright as you want it to be in the first session.What are 3 techniques used on balayage? ›
Below, we outline three really important balayage application techniques that can help you step up your hair painting game: The C-Motion™, The Glide & Slide™, and The Backflip™.How do you keep balayage from fading? ›
Use a pigmented shampoo or conditioner
Blonde hair colors fade especially fast because they are typically sheer, demi-permanent hair colors (professional toners). Toning shampoos and conditioners are super easy to use at home. They deposit a small amount of pigment back into your hair.
Unlike bleach and harsh chemicals saturating your hair for 30 minutes during your next appointment, balayage uses only strands of your hair to save your roots, protect your ends, and add a shiny coat to the midshaft of your hair. Say goodbye to dryness and say hello to healthy-looking hair!
"A good balayage is all about placement and blending. Having contrast between the light and dark tones is what creates natural looking, lived-in dimension," says Blais. "A good balayage blends seamlessly from dark hues to the lightest, leaving the color looking soft with no harsh lines."Do they use foil for balayage? ›
When having balayage done, it's normal to stick to the freehand technique, but that doesn't always mean it's best. By using foils, your stylist can speed up the process of balayage, helping you get in and out of the salon as quickly as possible.
What is replacing balayage? ›
Goodbye balayage -- hair frosting is the newest color trend of 2022. The buzzy hair dye technique is slightly different from balayage in that it involves the bleaching of individual hair strands. These strands are dyed into a cool blonde tone, contrasting the base color to create a snowy, frosted look, hence the name.Is balayage out of style? ›
“One-dimensional colour will be knocking balayage off the top spot in 2022, with solid colours like warm chocolate brown and glossy black becoming the new go-to. The year will also see more women embracing their greys.”What is the hottest hair color for 2022? ›
- Golden Bronze. ...
- Ash Gold. ...
- Beachy Bronde. ...
- Sandy Copper. ...
- Punk Hair. ...
- Fantasy Colors. ...
- Strawberry Brunette. ...
- Blonde Babylights.
Who Shouldn't Get Balayage. While balayage works with almost all hair types, colors and textures, it's not recommended for those with heavily highlighted hair. “This hair type will require the hair to be partially darkened and then highlighted,” says Papanikolis.What's the new hair color for 2022? ›
Red may be the biggest hair-color trend for fall, but it's no one-shade pony. Here, five ways to go crimson this season.Is balayage still popular 2022? ›
Subtle balayages are still very popular. I'm seeing a lot more requests for natural, copper reds and mahogany tones as well!”When did balayage become popular? ›
The hairdressing industry had invented many foil highlighting methods in the 80's, but Balayage was not popularized until the early 1990's. It caught the attention of many famous celebrities and quickly became one of America's most popular color trends till now.Is balayage going out of style? ›
“One-dimensional colour will be knocking balayage off the top spot in 2022, with solid colours like warm chocolate brown and glossy black becoming the new go-to. The year will also see more women embracing their greys.”Who started the balayage trend? ›
Dessange Paris created Balayage in France in the early 1970s, so we are well versed in this “trend of the moment.” Balayage is practiced in many salons, but it was pioneered and perfected in ours.Does balayage make you look younger? ›
This is a great option for dark hair and cool-toned brunettes. Adding caramel highlights can help to warm and soften facial features; and the balayage technique ensures your highlights grow out without a demarcation line. These things all lead to a more youthful appearance.
Does balayage cover GREY hair? ›
It works on gray hair.
Balayage is a smart solution for gray hair because it allows the colorist to specifically target gray strands without touching the scalp. And, because you don't need to do a single process to cancel out a few grays, it's easier on your hair overall.
It makes your hair look thicker
Together with a Great Cut, balayage lends hair greater depth, giving the illusion of more fullness. Think of it like comparing a 2D drawing, with a painting that's in full perspective.
Long layers and volume
"Things are going from really short shags and mullets to mid-length haircuts," she said. Expect to see '90s-inspired long layers and stylists focusing on adding more volume while keeping the hair length intact. "Two of the most frequently used techniques will be slide cutting and texturizing.
She still keeps her honey highlights, but wears them instead in a gradual, lived-in balayage. Returning to her signature dirty blonde look, Jennifer attended the premiere of her movie Dumplin' with golden baby highlights that add some warmth to her complexion.Do you cut hair before or after balayage? ›
If you're thinking of trying balayage, for the best results, trim your hair before you highlight. A trim will help your colorist decide where to place your new highlights.