Style What You Need to Know Before You Try to Balayage Your Hair

19:55  08 april  2021
19:55  08 april  2021 Source:   goodhousekeeping.com

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a person talking on a cell phone: What is balayage hair, is it better than traditional highlights, and how is it different from ombre? Here's what you need to know about balayage, including price, safety, and before and after photos. © iprogressman - Getty Images What is balayage hair, is it better than traditional highlights, and how is it different from ombre? Here's what you need to know about balayage, including price, safety, and before and after photos.

It's easy to love balayage hair color, the effortlessly cool hair trend that's taken red carpets by storm. The look is accomplished via hand-painted highlights, and"clients love the technique because it gives a natural sun-kissed look to the hair and the maintenance is much easier than traditional foils," says Joel Warren, owner of The Salon Project.

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Wait, what does"balayage" mean?

The term comes from the French word"balayer," meaning to sweep. It's a term that refers to the way the color is applied, not the color itself."Balayage is a technique where hair color is painted onto the hair to create a graduated, more natural-looking highlight effect," says Warren.

That means the final look is less stripy than highlights of the past, while offering the same gorgeous dimension and fun color. These hand-painted highlights"allow for pops of brightness and contrast throughout the hair, while still keeping it looking natural," says Desirae Blais, senior stylist at Blush Beauty Boutique. Oh, and if you're wondering, it's pronounced"baa - lee - ahge."

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Why is balayage so popular?

•It requires less maintenance than most hair color. Since the process is designed to give the look of grown-out roots in a way that's flattering and natural instead of stark and skunky, it's less work to maintain. That translates to less time and money spent at the salon, and in turn, less damage done to the hair."I have some clients who go 6-8 months between visits," says Blais, while others opt to come in every 6-10 weeks.

•It's customized. Every balayage is different: Placement, gradation, and color is based on your hair color, texture, and length, so it"can be personalized for each client to highlight or soften facial features," says Blais."A good stylist will always take into consideration the [client's] skin tone and natural base color to determine which tones will work best," says Linsey Barbuto, artistic director and founder of Perlei Salon. No two balayages should look the same — keep that in mind as you're looking through your stylist's portfolio.

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"Many forms of balayage are not patterns a stylist follows," says Kitty Greller, a colorist at Bb. Midtown."We look at the hair as a whole and find the pieces that would accentuate certain features or a specific haircut. My clients love it because it’s more tailored to them."

•It's trendy. Celebrities from the Kardashians to Chrissy Teigen have brought the hair color trend to the limelight, so it's no wonder that it's gained popularity with the masses. A search for the hashtag"balayage" gives more than 20 million results on Instagram.

a close up of Chrissy Teigen: what is balayage © Frazer Harrison - Getty Images what is balayage

How is balayage achieved?

First, your stylist should ask you some curated questions to learn what you're looking for."You have to have the end look in mind to know where to start," says Warren. Blais says some good questions to expect from your stylist are:

  • What is your favorite (and least favorite) part of your hair?
  • How do you style your hair on a daily basis?
  • How often are you looking to get your balayage touched up?

These FAQs allow your stylist to contour and highlight your color based on your lifestyle and preferred features to create an end look that's curated just for you. Then, your stylist will paint sections of your hair with bleach. The strokes should be light-handed toward the root of the hair, and more saturated toward the ends of the hair to mimic the way that hair naturally lightens in the sun. That gradual placement also prevents obvious grow-out, allowing you to go longer between appointments.

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"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."

How is balayage different from highlights or ombre?

The terms"balayage,""ombre,""babylights," and"highlights" are all various styles and techniques that refer to the same goal: lightening the hair. They can all be combined for a desired look. In fact, Blais says that the most common inspiration photo she sees is"a combination of babylights with balayage and ombre." Let us decode for you:

•Traditional highlights are created by sectioning pieces of hair and wrapping in foil from root to tip."Foil highlights are placed close to the scalp, keeping the lightener from getting on the surrounding hair," says Barbuto. Bright, noticeable lines of color will be woven throughout the hair as result. Wrapping hair in foil allows the color to develop more quickly (a.k.a. lighten more) than it might with just hand-painting, which is why many stylists still use some strategically-placed foils, even when balayaging.

•Babylights are super-thin highlights that mimic the look of a child's natural highlights (hence the name)."A babylight consists of an extremely small, thin section of hair, creating a super subtle, sun-kissed result," says Barbuto, thanks to the much-smaller weave used. Babylights can be used"to finely break up the root color for best grow-out results," says Blais.

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A post shared by perlei salon (@perlei_salon)

•Ombre means"shaded from dark to light," so balayage is actually a technique used to create ombre, explains Warren. However, if you ask for an ombre at the salon, chances are that all of your ends will be lightened, and the color will start lower on the hair shaft.

The ends of the hair get a lot lighter with ombre than they might with balayage, since the entire strand is saturated with bleach for a"more solid finish," says Barbuto. With balayage, strands are sparingly painted, and those that are dyed blend up higher into the hair.

•Balayage offers lightness with a softer, more blended appearance. The technique mimics what might happen to your hair if it were to lighten naturally with the sun, and there's"no line of demarcation... striping, or harsh lines of color," says Blais. Balayage typically maintains the root color and eliminates any telltale lines of color, allowing you to go longer between appointments since it looks"lived-in" off the bat.

How much does balayage cost?

Expect to spend anywhere from $200-$500, depending on your hair, salon, and locale.

Can every hair type try balayage?

Yes!"Any texture and color can have balayage done," says Greller. Even if your hair is super dark or kinky-curly, you can try out these natural-looking highlights. In fact, Greller says,"textured hair is my favorite to balayage on because I can see how their curls lie and literally pick up and color the curls I want to accentuate their look."

Can you balayage at home?

You probably shouldn't. Balayage might look effortless and natural, but unlike traditional single-process hair color,"balayage techniques are very precise and take a lot of education and practice. I would steer clear of any DIY balayage and leave it to the professionals," says Blais.

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Greller agrees:"It is hand painted, which is hard to do on your own. It also doesn’t require any wrapping around the hair strands, so the color can easily bleed or spot onto the other non-colored hair."

A post shared by Kitty Greller (@kittycolorist)

How to maintain your balayage

While balayage enables you to go nearly a year without dyeing your hair, that doesn't mean you're totally off the hook as far as maintenance goes. To keep your color looking fresh between visits, Blais suggests a rich, hydrating hair mask, like Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask, for healthy shine. A purple-toning shampoo has also been proven to balance out any brassy tones that may crop up between colorings.

Barbuto suggests that her clients pop back in between visits"at the 8-10 week mark for a glossing refresher. This helps add some tonality back into the hair, also condition and seal the cuticle layer." It's less expensive, time-consuming, and damaging than a full coloring session, while still giving a gorgeous result.

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