hair color ideas What Is Balayage Hair Color?

This well-loved technique may change the way you dye your hair.

July 29, 2022
Balayage Highlights

Balayage has remained a popular hair coloring trend in recent years. The freehand hair highlighting technique created by French colorists gives the hair gorgeous dimension. Even if you’re not exactly sure what balayage is, chances are you’ve seen balayage hair on A-listers, social media influencers, and even your friends — you probably just assumed it was some sort of highlights

If you’re looking to spice up your hair color without totally altering your base color keep reading. We’re sharing the lowdown on this hair highlighting technique, including what balayage hair color looks like and how it differs from highlights so you can pick the best option for your hair.

What Does a Balayage Do to Your Hair?

Let’s start with the basics. The ‘70s are known for many things: thigh-high boots, flower power, the words groovy and rad — and, as it turns out, it also happens to be the decade that balayage highlights were developed. 

As we mentioned earlier, balayage was created by French colorists back in this decade. In French, the word balayage means to sweep, which describes how the highlights are applied. Balayage highlights are painted onto the hair using a brush. They're completely freehanded, there is no cap or guide of any sort, it's all about where the colorist thinks the highlights will look best. The whole goal of a balayage color is to leave your hair with a natural-looking, sun-kissed look.  

What Is the Difference Between Highlights and Balayage?

Rather than traditional foiling or cap techniques, balayage is a freehand technique. With foils, you’ll get a very uniform finish, while with balayage, the result looks more natural. This also allows the colorist to apply the color in more specific areas that they think will brighten your features. It’s often applied inches down from the roots to make it appear even more lived-in.  

Is Balayage and Ombré the Same Thing?

An ombré hair color involves hair that gradually transitions from dark color at the roots to light color at the ends with a gradient effect. Rather than creating a gradient effect, balayage highlights are placed throughout your strands in specific areas. They create a piecy, dimensional look as opposed to a more uniform color. 

How Long Does Balayage Hair Last?

One of the best things about balayage highlights is that they grow out very naturally. That means that there’s no harsh regrowth line, so you don’t have to worry about visiting the salon regularly for touch-ups — they’re as low maintenance as highlights will get. But just because balayage has less upkeep than traditional highlights doesn’t mean they last forever. 

How long your hair color will stay fresh depends on a few different factors, including how well you care for it, but there are a few other things you need to know about this style of hair color. First, balayage hair color requires a certain level of skill to create, so it’s best left to a professional. As with all highlighting techniques, balayage requires lightening — and that means you’ll need to have your hair bleached. Bleaching your hair can cause damage, so it’s important to make sure you take care of your strands pre- and post-balayage, not only to make the color last but to keep your hair healthy. Depending on your hair color and length, there are some other factors to keep in mind for getting and maintaining balayage.  

Balayage On Dark Hair 

The darker your starting color and the lighter you want to go with your balayage highlights, the more work it will take to achieve your desired end result. So, keep in mind that you might be in for multiple highlighting sessions depending on what you start with and what you want your hair to look like at the end of the process. 

While blonde balayage is one of the most common shades, there are other options that can be better suited for dark hair. To do less damage to your hair and achieve a more natural look, opting for a darker shade like caramel or auburn balayage is a good place to start. 

Balayage On Light Hair 

If you already have light hair, you’re in luck. Lightening your strands likely won’t take as many sessions as doing balayage highlights on black hair or dark brown hair  hair, but that will depend on how light your desired balayage highlights are. If you’re looking for platinum blonde balayage, bleaching will likely still be required. 

How to Make Your Balayage Hair Color Last

As with any dye job, there are certain things you can do to help maintain your color and keep your hair in top shape. Using color-safe shampoo and conditioner is the first step. 

The L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Color Care Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Color Care Conditioner are great options for keeping your balayage hair fresh because not only are they safe on color, but they work to address hair damage from bleaching and heat styling by reinforcing weak hair bonds from the inside out. 

It’s also important to turn down the water temperature when washing your hair because hot water can strip your strands of essential oils, leaving your hair feeling dry as well as causing premature color fading.

Finally, invest in an at-home hair gloss so you can really keep those salon visits far and few. We love the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss because it’s easy to use, only takes about 15 minutes to recharge your color and deep condition your hair, and it’s affordable.

Next: Mane Changer: 3 Ways to Get a Gorgeous Expensive Blonde Hair Color

Edited by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Noir Kuaför, IG/@noir_repair, Photo Design: Crystal Simone