The balayage hair dying technique came to be in the 1970s. Balayage (pronounced Bali-ahje), is derived from the French word, which means "The act of sweeping." This unique hair dyeing technique originated in France but didn’t boom in the United States until the 1990s. Today, the technique can still be seen in many salons.
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What Is a Balayage?
A Balayage refers to a freehand dyeing technique where color is applied to the surface of the hair without saturating it from root to tip. The color is applied to the hair that has been separated into triangular sections. The result is a more natural look that makes the hair appear to have a natural sun-kissed color.
101: Learning the Basics of Balayage
Balayage vs. Ombré
Elle notes that the balayage is different from the ombré, which gives the effect of hair going from a light shade to a dark shade and is a more subtle variation on highlights that leaves dark hair near the bottom to provide a more natural appearance.
Ombré is also more descriptive of the actual style and appearance of the hair, where balayage refers to the freehanded dyeing method that is used.
The balayage style is also easier to take care of as it is meant to grow out more naturally and doesn't show demarcation between the dyed area and new growth.
How to do a Balayage?
Achieving the balayage look is no easy task as it involves a skilled technique. You are not applying the bleaching solution as you would with foiling, you must apply it in a sweeping motion that appears natural. For this reason, using the balayage technique at home without any prior training isn’t encouraged. Consider going to a trusted and experienced hairstylist when getting balayage hair.
The first step in undergoing the balayage process is to consult with your stylist and decide what shade you are going for. If you’re doing it at home now is the time to consult with yourself.
Since balayage will require bleaching your hair, which is a very taxing dying process, deciding whether your hair is healthy enough to handle it is very important.
If your hair is weak and brittle, it won’t be able to withstand the bleaching process without excessive damage. Also, depending on your hair and the look you’d like to achieve, some stylists may take another approach to apply the color other than balayage.
Although you may want your hair to have the balayage look, other coloring techniques may better suit your hair’s needs. Once your hair is cleared to proceed, you’ll want to decide on what shade of balayage you’re looking to achieve. Some will opt for a light caramel brown while others will want to go the lightest shade of blonde as possible.
Being able to look at, or give your stylist a picture for inspiration that is closest to the style you’re looking to achieve can be helpful.
Now it’s time for the balayage application. For this, you, or your stylist will mix up the bleach solution and begin applying it to your hair. This will require small and mindful sections. It’s a very tedious process because the bleach must be delicately painted on your hair strands as opposed to using foils, which require less technique.
Applying the bleach in the proper sections is crucial to achieving the natural appearance that most are going for. Plastic wrap should be used when separating the sections as the bleach is applied throughout your hair. The application can take anywhere from 1-2 hours.
- The processing of the beach is the next step. For this, you can sit under the dryer so that your hair lightens faster. Lightening can take from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how fast your hair turns and what shade of blonde you want. Once your hair is finished processing it’s time to rinse it out thoroughly.
- Now, typically it’s a good idea to apply a toner to your hair. Toners are used to either add or take away warm or cool tones in your hair after lightening. The longest this will sit is for 30 minutes.
- After your toner is rinsed out it’s best to follow up with a protein or conditioning treatment to add some strength back into your hair. Olaplex is a highly used choice for this by many stylists.
- The last step is styling. You can proceed with blow-drying and styling your hair as desired. It’s a great idea to trim your hair now as the ends of your hair may be compromised after the bleaching process.
Balayage can be sparse and only in certain areas of the head or fully applied. The style can range from taking 45 minutes to a few hours and can even work on curly hair textures without straightening. However, if your hair has ever been chemically treated or relaxed it could affect the results of the dye job. This coloring technique can cost $100 and up at a salon.
Super Simple Balayage
Is a Balayage Versatile?
A Balayage can be achieved with several different shades of color such as different browns, blondes, bright colors, or pastels. This makes it a versatile hair coloring technique.
How Long Does Balayage Last?
Balayage can last up to 10 weeks before needing to be reapplied. The application allows for the color to grow out into a natural appearance.
Who Is Balayage Suitable For?
A Balayage is good for anyone with healthy hair looking for a natural dye job. If you want to achieve a natural mix between an ombre and highlights, consider balayage. Also, the technique should not irritate sensitive scalps.
When to Wear Balayage?
This a hair color that can be worn year-round.
Pros and Cons
- The Balayage looks very natural. Although balayage is like ombré it is a much more natural approach as it isn’t such a blunt color transition. The balayage technique is a combination of highlights and ombré which allows for a soft transition in your hair.
- The Balayage is less damaging than other bleaching applications. This technique does not require your entire head to be covered in bleach, which ultimately is less damaging.
- It is low maintenance. This technique can grow out a considerable amount without being noticed because of its natural application. You won’t have to worry about touch-ups nearly as often with balayage.
- The Balayage can compromise the health of your hair. Although your entire head isn’t being bleached, bits of it still are. If the bleaching process is done improperly, or your hair is not healthy enough to handle it, your hair can be very damaged.
- It is a more tedious hair coloring technique. Other bleaching techniques do not require the same amount of precision involved with the balayage technique. This means that this will be a lengthier process and will require greater attention to detail.