lucy hale hair short balayage

Everything You Need To Know About Balayage

“It’s just a fancy term for ombré, right?” If you’re asking that question, then this article is worth a read. Here is our guide to everything you need to know about balayage.

WHAT IS BALAYAGE?

Starting off with the basics: the word itself. Balayage is a French word meaning ‘sweeping’. Contrary to popular belief, balayage is actually the technique not the colour itself (hence ‘sweeping’). The technique involves using long, painted strokes of colour, giving the effect of a long summer spent at the beach. Normally, hair is coloured to be lighter around the face, blended at the roots and lighter at the ends – the goal of balayage is a natural, blended look.

IS IT JUST FOR BLONDES?

Definitely not! Whilst the #balayage hashtag on Instagram may be brimming with long, blonde locks, balayage can be used on brunettes, copper and ash-coloured hair as well, creating caramelly, vanillary, chocolately tones (sounds delish, right?!). Although this popular technique is achievable on a range of hair colours, it does have the best effect on naturally lighter hair.

HOW IS BALAYAGE ACHIEVED?

As we’ve mentioned above, balayage is done by ‘painting’ the hair by lightening and blending sections using a freehand technique, which is how it differs from more traditional highlights and foils. By using a freehand application, your stylist or colourist can have more artistic licence and create an effect that suits you best.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OMBRÉ AND BALAYAGE?

These two looks are very similar, but there are differences between their outcomes; balayage is a technique, whereas ombré is a desired outcome. The word ‘ombré’ (also French) means ‘shaded’ or ‘gradient of tone’, so ombré is a gradual change in tone from darker roots to lighter tips, opposed to lightening sections of hair with a freehand approach.

IS BALAYAGE HARD TO MAINTAIN?

Because the balayage technique can be used on an assortment of hair types and colours, there are different variables to take into consideration, but on the whole, balayage is a low-maintenance colouring option.

Some people may want an intense balayage, with more contrasting tones – if you opt for this, you’ll need to ensure to use the right hair products to help maintain the colour, such as purple shampoos (no one wants brassy ends!). If you opt for a softer effect, then it’s a lot easier to maintain – if your balayage was applied right, regrowth should look minimal and not a solid line.

As balayage involves bleaching or lightening your hair, we highly recommend using conditioning hair products (such as masks and conditioners specifically for coloured hair) to keep your locks healthy and smooth.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BALAYAGE?

  • Usually low maintenance

  • More natural than traditional highlights. As balayage creates a more blended look rather than more distinct sections, the colour will look more natural and sun-kissed.

  • Less damage to your hair as a whole. Having a balayage means you’re only having sections of hair lightened instead of getting your entire head of hair bleached.

WHAT ARE THE CONS OF BALAYAGE?

  • Warm tones. Sometimes people with darker hair pull orange/red tones when having balayage done, which can go brassy much quicker than more blonder tones

  • Bleaching. Although this technique is less damaging than full-head colour, you are still getting pieces of hair lightened. If your hair is dry or damaged from previous lightening, make sure to talk to discuss the options with your stylist

SOME TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST BALAYAGE APPOINTMENT:

  1. Bring photo inspo: because balayage is so versatile, there are a lot of options! Whilst one technique or colour may work on one person, it may not work as well on another. Hair length, condition, colour and the skill of the stylist are all factors to consider. Pinterest and Instagram are your best platforms for scoping out photo inspo.

  2. Prep your hair: look after your hair and you’ll get the best results! By doing conditioning or strengthening treatments in the week leading up to your appointment you’re helping your hair to be in the best condition it can be before being lightened

  3. Arrive with your hair styled normally: for the best results, turning up at the salon with your hair styled how you would on the daily will help your stylist create the optimum effect. Your stylist will apply colour in places that compliment your style, so as tempting as it may be to whip out the straighteners or give your hair a bit of volume before leaving the house, we recommend leaving it be.

If you’d like to book an appointment for a balayage at our Academy Salon, please call us on 09 308 0670 or pop in and see us at 8 Canada Street, Auckland.