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How to Do Balayage at Home for Curly Hair

Balayage highlights are the perfect way to spotlight your gorgeous curly texture.
January 16, 2023

Balayage highlights are no doubt one of the most gorgeous and trendy ways to upgrade your hair color. They add the appearance of sun-kissed ribbons without taxing upkeep in a bundle of golden, multi-dimensional hair color. Balayage highlights flatter all hair types including straight, wavy and curly hair. When you have the latter, balayage highlights serve not only as a great way to dial up your color but also as a way to enhance your natural ringlets and waves. 

This begs the question — how do you balayage curly hair? The answer is simple, it’s not that different than the way you would balayage straight hair, but there are a few things to keep in mind that can elevate the end result. Ahead, what you need to know about how to balayage curly hair at home, including the best DIY balayage kit to use and tips to help you care for curly balayage.

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Is Balayage Good for Curly Hair?

Balayage does a fantastic job of highlighting your hair’s natural waves and coils — literally. Since balayage is a free-hand technique, this gives you the freedom to adjust your hand-painted strokes based on your curl type and their placement on your head. If your goal is low-maintenance color to brighten up your curls, balayage is a great option.

2 DIY Balayage Techniques for Curly Hair

As we mentioned, balayage’s hand-painted technique allows some room for creativity with your strokes and application. We would describe it as contour for your hair. Here are two different ways to balayage your curly hair at home.

Traditional Balayage 

Traditional balayage hand paints highlights onto your strands to create lived-in color. By lived-in, we mean the color doesn’t begin at your roots like other highlights. Instead, they start a few inches past the roots so that as they grow out, the highlights look natural, which also means you don’t have to worry about constant maintenance. 

They’ll add subtle pops of brightness throughout your hair, creating dimension all over. If you want face-framing balayage, it’s as simple as adjusting the placement of your color closer to the roots on the hair surrounding your face. Traditional balayage is a great option for those with a tighter curl pattern like 4A, 4B or 4C hair.

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Chunky Balayage

Chunky balayage refers to the size of the pieces of hair on which you apply the color. Typically, balayage highlights focus on small sections of hair but when you use larger sections, it helps to make your loose curls or waves look denser and more voluminous. It’s a great way to bulk up your strands if you have fine or thin hair and looser curls or waves.

With traditional balayage, slight sections of hair, like a quarter-inch or smaller, are typically used for the handpainted highlights. For chunky balayage, go for half-inch sections. Avoid grabbing huge sections of hair because you want the color to distribute evenly and you want your hair to look highlighted, not striped.

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The Best Hair Color Kit for At-Home Balayage

For DIY balayage, try the L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Balayage At-Home Highlighting Kit This kit is what you need to make gorgeous, curly hair balayage a reality. Available In three shades — Light to Dark Blonde, Dark Blonde to Light Brown, Light Brown to Brown — to suit blonde and brunettes looking to add some dimension to their color.

Consider this the perfect tool for blondes and brunettes looking to upgrade their strands with multi-dimensional hair color at home.

To make your at-home hair color session easy, the kit includes an expert touch applicator with a comfortable grip that allows for precise, blended color that mimics a professional colorist’s hand-painted highlights. It also includes the pro-toning mask that blurs the root line and tones your highlights to provide lived-in dimension. 

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Curly Balayage 2000x900

What You Need to Balayage Your Hair at Home

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need for your at-home balayage session.

L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Balayage At-Home Highlighting Kit (Includes gloves, developer cream, bleaching powder, lightening cream, pro toning mask, expert touch applicator)

Color safe mixing bowl

Comb or brush

Old towel (one that you won’t mind getting bleach on)

How to Balayage Curly Hair

Follow these simple steps (also included in the at-home hair color kit) to balayage your curly strands at home. 

Step 1. Straighten Your Curly Hair With a Flat Iron

While straightening your curly hair before coloring may feel counterintuitive, it can really help when it comes to deciding on the placement of your balayage highlights. Along with that, one of the most important things about coloring curly hair at home is making sure you evenly saturate the dye onto your strands. Straightening your hair can make it easier to evenly distribute the dye onto your strands, leading to more even hair color and a better end result. 

Because of this, we highly suggest straightening your hair with a flat iron before coloring it. You can do it a few days before your DIY color to enjoy a change or style or you can straighten it the day of. Just remember to prime your strands with a heat protectant, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In, to smooth the hair and protect against heat damage up to 450 F.

Step 2. Divide Your Hair Into Four Even Sections

Part your hair horizontally, from ear to ear at the back of your head to create an upper and lower section. Then, separate the top and bottom sections into two even sections so you have four even sections — two on the top and two on the bottom. Secure each section with a hair tie or a claw clip, only unclipping the hair in the section that you’re working on. 

Step 3. Carefully Mix Your Dye

Put on the gloves and mix the packet of bleaching powder with the developer cream. Shake the bottle so the powder can evenly mix. This is important because you don’t want any lumps in your hair dye. Then, add the entire tube of the lightening cream to the developer cream. 

Again, shake the bottle until all three textures have blended together, creating one thick cream. Twist the cap off the developer cream and pour the product into a color-safe bowl. 

Step 4. Use the Expert Touch Applicator to Apply the Color, Section by Section

Wearing the gloves included in the box, slide the expert touch applicator onto your middle and ring fingers. Using your other hand, section off a quarter-inch piece of hair at the back of your head. If you’re going with the chunky balayage technique, pick a half-inch section. 

Dip the applicator into the bowl of color to evenly saturate the bristles. Use the applicator to apply the color to the section of hair, just a few inches past the roots, all the way to the ends. If you want face-framing balayage, apply the dye a bit higher in the areas surrounding your face.

Use your fingers to lightly massage the color into the hair so it’s evenly distributed from top to bottom. Repeat this process, moving from the bottom sections to the top section of your hair, focusing on one area at a time.

Step 5. Allow the Color to Process

Once you’ve applied the color all over your curls, allow time for it to process. Typically, the color should develop for 25–45 minutes depending on your desired balayage results and how light you want the color to get. We suggest setting a timer on your phone so you don’t forget.

Step 6. Rinse and Apply the Pro-Toning Mask

After your processing time has passed, rinse and shampoo your curls in lukewarm water until the water is clear and you’ve washed all the color out. Gently plop your curls with an old t-shirt and apply the pro-toning mask to your roots to soften the color and blur your root line. 

Massage the mask onto your scalp for 30 seconds to lather the product, then evenly distribute it through the rest of your damp curls. Leave the mask on for ten minutes and then rinse it out with lukewarm water.


Step 7. Style As Usual

Once you’re done rinsing your hair, feel free to style your new DIY balayage highlights. For soft, bouncy curls, style your damp curls with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Curl Cocoon Creme. This leave-in conditioner’s creamy slip shapes curls and offers 24-hour frizz control with a formula that’s free of synthetic fragrance, sulfates, parabens, dyes and silicones.

How to Care for Curly Balayage Hair 

To care for your balayage curls, it’s important that you find products that are suited for your hair type and preserve color-treated hair. Here are three tips to help you care for curly balayage hair.

1. Use a Color-Safe Hair System for Curls

If you have curls or waves, the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo, L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner and  L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner will help you keep them bouncy and healthy.

Infused with castor oil and hyaluronic acid, this hydrating trio sculpts and defines waves and curls while locking in moisture. Plus, the formula is safe for color-treated strands. 

Wash and style your hair as usual with the shampoo and conditioner, finishing up with the frizz-fighting leave-in conditioner. Once a week, switch out the shampoo for the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Micellar Shampoo, a clarifying shampoo with a water-to-foam formula that removes stubborn product build-up, oils and grease from the scalp to reset your curls.

2. Incorporate a Glossing Treatment to Preserve Your Color

To maintain your golden ribbons of balayage color, introduce a weekly glossing treatment into your routine, like the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss. If you’ve opted for caramel balayage, try the shade, Honey Blonde, and if you’ve opted for mocha balayage, try the shade, Smokey Bronde. In as little as five minutes, this in-shower treatment works to banish brassy, faded and lackluster color while deep conditioning your strands and enhancing shine. 

Along with a glossing treatment, purple shampoo is a great way to keep your hair color looking vibrant. As needed, wash your curls with toning shampoo, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Brass Toning Purple Shampoo. The formula contains purple dyes to neutralize unwanted yellow and orange brass in highlighted blonde, bleached and silver hair. 

Follow up with the corresponding conditioner, the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Brass Toning Purple Conditioner. Depending on how often you wash your hair, aim to use this duo every few shampoos, once a week or every other week.

3. Introduce a Weekly Hair Mask Into Your Routine

Curly hair is prone to frizz because it tends to be drier than other hair types. Balayage, like any type of hair color or bleaching treatment, can dry out your hair (which can lead to damage) so it’s highly important to nourish your curls after coloring them. 

Once a week, switch out your conditioner for a repairing hair mask, like the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Signature Masque, Color Care Hair Mask. Suitable for color-treated hair, this nourishing hair treatment provides intense hydration and enhances shine in just one use. 

Next: Should You Wash Your Hair Before Dyeing It?

Photo Credit: Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris

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