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Balayage hair has been taking social media by storm—and with good reason. Balayage is a freehand hair highlighting technique created by French colorists—and we’re here to tell you that it looks absolutely stunning. Even if you’re not sure what balayage is, chances are you’ve definitely seen these highlights on A-listers as they’ve strutted down the red carpet. You might even say it’s overtaken the ombré hair trend! If you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to change your hair color and give yourself a new beauty look, here’s everything you need to know about balayage, from what it is to how you can get balayage highlights.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? 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 is a highlighting technique that was created by French colorists back in the 1970s. In French, the word balayage means to sweep, which describes how the highlights are applied. Balayage highlights are painted on 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 balayage highlights is to leave you with natural-looking, sun-kissed hair. To further explain the technique, allow us to compare it to two other popular hair highlighting options.
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 is more natural. This also allows the colorist to apply the color in more specific areas that they think will brighten your features.
An ombré hair color involves hair that gradually transitions from dark to light, from your roots to your ends. Rather than creating a gradient effect, balayage highlights are placed throughout your mane in specific areas.
Is balayage in for 2019 and 2020? Yes! So, if on-trend hair colors are your thing, balayage hair may be worth giving a try. Not to mention, if you’re a color newbie, balayage is a great option for you! It’s a subtle highlighting technique that isn’t as drastic as completely changing your hair color. Balayage works on any hair color, so it doesn’t matter whether you have brown, blonde, or red hair. Also, if you’re looking for highlights that are as low maintenance as you can get, then balayage is the way to go. With these highlights, you won’t have to run to the salon for touch-ups every couple of weeks since you’re not dyeing the entire length of your hair. As the highlights grow out, it’ll look totally intentional. Fewer touch-ups? Yes, please!
Just because balayage highlights are low maintenance doesn’t mean there aren’t facts to keep in mind before hitting up the salon. 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. Depending on your hair color and length, there are some other factors to keep in mind.
If you want balayage on dark hair…balayage highlights will require some work. The darker your starting color and the lighter you want to go with your balayage highlights, the more work it’ll 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. It’s also important to have realistic expectations. For instance, if you want balayage on black hair, a darker shade like caramel balayage highlights may be a good place to start.
If you want balayage on light hair…you’re in luck! Lightening your strands likely won’t take as many sessions as it takes to get balayage highlights on dark hair, but that will depend on how light your desired balayage highlights are.
If you have short hair…you can rock balayage hair! The good news is, balayage on short hair looks absolutely stunning. It doesn’t matter whether you have a short pixie cut or waist-length hair—this highlighting method can be used on anyone.
If you have long hair…balayage highlights could be just what you need. If you have longer locks, balayage can add serious movement to your strands.
As we mentioned, balayage is done freehand rather than using tools like foiling and caps that are often used during other highlighting techniques. That means the color is applied by hand on an individual. As you also now know, balayage stands for sweeping in French. This technique gets its name because of the process of sweeping the color through the hair with a brush and a backing board. As you may have already guessed, this is a technique best left to professionals, as it requires a certain level of skill to do correctly. To find the right colorist, look for one who specializes in the balayage technique, and go in for a consultation before actually having your hair dyed. Make sure to bring inspiration pics with you so that your colorist knows exactly what you want. When your colorist sees and hears what you want out of your balayage highlights, they’ll be able to create a custom look that flatters you using their knowledge of how to balayage.
No! While blonde balayage is the more traditional type of balayage, you can totally experiment with color. For example, reverse balayage is trending these days—this look features light hair on top and darker hair woven throughout from your mid-lengths to ends. Which leads us to…
Besides reverse balayage, there are plenty of trendy balayage hair color ideas to try. Here are some of our favorites of the moment:
Option #1: Pearly balayage. This pearlescent balayage hair color features a sandy brown base with light pinkish-purple ends, reminiscent of, well, you guessed it, a pearl! Get the look temporarily with the L’Oréal Paris Colorista 1-Day Spray in Silver, RoseGold, and Pastel Lavender, which wash out after one shampoo.
Option #2: Rose quartz balayage. One of the most popular beauty trends is crystals, so give this trend a spin on your hair with rose quartz balayage. A pop of color can be beautiful and a lot easier to maintain than all-over color. We happen to love this option for doing balayage on brown hair.
Option #3: Peach balayage. Peach hair is perfect for summer, but you don’t have to dye your entire head of hair—for a subtler look, opt for peach balayage instead. If you fall in love with the color, you can always go for all-over color later.
Option #4: Rose gold balayage. Rose gold is one color that shows no signs of losing its place atop the beauty trend list. As with peach, you can try rose gold balayage instead of coloring your entire head of hair this shade.
Option #5: Blue balayage. Ready to take a major hair color risk? Then blue balayage might be right up your alley. Whether you pick a lighter or darker shade within the blue family, you’re sure to look stunning.
Balayage highlights can vary in cost based on where you get them done and how much experience your colorist has. The length of your hair can also factor into price, as it can impact how much time and product your strands require. On average, balayage highlights are generally around $200.
The great thing about balayage highlights is that they grow out very naturally. That means that there’s no regrowth line, so you don’t have to worry about visiting the salon regularly for touch-ups. As with any dye job, there are certain things you can do to help maintain your color and keep your hair in tip-top shape. One of the best things you can do? Use sulfate-free products, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defense Shampoo, L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defense Conditioner, and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair Remedy Balm. Swap out the conditioner for the hair mask once or twice a week, and leave it on for three to five minutes before rinsing out thoroughly. It’s also important to shower in lukewarm water, since hot water can strip your strands of essential oils, leaving your hair feeling dry and looking dull.
Do we have you sold on balayage highlights? We thought so! If you’re wondering how to style your new hair color, consider one of the four options below.
Balayage Hair Style #1: Effortless waves. Give the heat tools a rest! Balayage highlights look extra amazing when you rock curls or waves. Spritz a wave spray onto wet hair and let it air dry. Sun-kissed beachy waves, coming right up!
Balayage Hair Style #2: Voluminous curls. Remember those curls we mentioned? Whip out your curling iron and get ready to amp up the volume! For a step-by-step tutorial, here’s How to Create Voluminous Curls on Any Hair Type.
Balayage Hair Style #3: Fishtail braid. It’s no secret that braid hairstyles are one of the best ways to show off a dimensional hair color. Weave your strands into a fishtail braid and show off your balayage highlights!
Balayage Hair Style #4: Defined layers. Have lots of layers? You’ll want to play those up to showcase your balayage highlights. Use a hair pomade, like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty, to create piecey texture and define your layers.
Next up: Ready to learn the ins and outs of another hair coloring technique? Check out our article, What Is Hair Painting? Everything You Need to Know About This Hair Color Technique.
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