Like many hair styling staples, balayage and hair dye in general find their roots in ancient times. According to The Atlantic, hair coloring goes as far back as paleolithic times, where naturally occurring substances like dirt, were used to tint hair, cloth and even body parts. Ancient Egyptians also used other plants like indigo to dye their hair different hues.
The first synthetic hair dyes came to prominence in the 1800s. William Henry Perkins was the first to create synthetic dye with coal tar while trying to create a remedy for malaria. L'Oreal released the first commercially available synthetic dye in 1907. Today, 70 percent of women use or have used some hair coloring product.
Put away the box ombre sets, girls! Balayage to the rescue. Balayage (pronounced Bali-ahje), is derived from the french word, which means "to sweep." For hair styles, it refers to a freehand dyeing technique where color is applied to the surface of the hair without saturating the hair from root to tip. The color is applied to the hair that has been separated into triangular sections. The end result is a more natural look that makes the hair appear to have natural, "sun-kissed," highlights.
Balayage, Elle notes, is different from 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.
Balayage highlights 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 natural hair without straightening. However, if your hair has ever been chemically treated or relaxed it could affect the results of the dye job.