Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Balayage

You’ve seen the stars. You’ve heard about balayage, and you’re wondering if it’s worth all the hype. Or maybe you’re used to getting foil highlights, and you’re wondering if balayage would be better for your style. We’ve got you covered, babe.

Balayage is extremely popular, but it’s also misunderstood. It’s different from traditional foil highlights and offers an alternative to the standard, stark streaks that regular highlights can create.

Whether you’re curious about the technique or you just want to know what the big deal is, today is your day. Let’s learn about balayage.

What is a Balayage?

The word ‘balayage’ is French for ‘to brush or paint.’ Many people think of balayage as a color, but it’s actually a technique. A balayage is when your stylist hand paints your hair with color (or more typically, bleach). This highly individualized process creates a subtle, natural look that’s distinct from traditional foil highlights.

Balayage can create gentle, sun-kissed highlights or even pastel highlights, depending on what you want. No matter what your style, the balayage technique can make it look natural, effortless and gorgeous.

Balayage vs. Foil Highlights

What’s the difference between balayage and foil highlights? The main difference between the two highlight techniques is the end result. Foil highlights are consistent in color and tone, and they’re usually more pronounced. 

Since balayage is painted on, the color can be graduated to appear more natural. Sun-kissed beach hair is the look that many people associate with balayage, while pronounced strands of color are more closely associated with foil highlights.

Are Balayage and Ombre the Same?

Ombre is another French word that is associated with hair color. It means ‘shadow’ in French, and it is a technique that produces a shadowed effect on your hair. Typically, ombre hair is darker near the roots, and it gradually gets lighter towards the ends. 

The overall effect of ombre is a ‘dipped’ look with darker roots and lighter ends. While stylists can technically recreate the ombre look using balayage techniques, they are not the same process, and the results will look slightly different depending on which method is used.

Benefits of Balayage

Why choose balayage over another type of highlighting process? There are a few benefits to balayage that you don’t get with foil highlights.

A More Natural Look

Balayage lets your stylist apply color in a way that makes your highlight look soft and natural, like they naturally occur in your hair. Because the color is painted on by hand, the highlights blend in better, whereas, with foil highlights, the color ends abruptly.

Balayage is Low-maintenance

The natural look of balayage has one benefit that many people love. Because the highlights are gentler, they don’t look out of place as your hair grows. This means you can go longer between highlighting sessions and still have beautiful color.

Balayage Has Reduced Color Bleed

Color bleed happens when the bleach used in foil highlights leaks out of the foil and onto the surrounding hair. The result of color bleeding is a splotchy, messy dye job.

With balayage, there may be layers of foil, cotton or plastic wrap placed between layers of clay lightener to prevent bleeding. This helps stylists ensure that the lightener goes only where it’s supposed to and nowhere else.

Balayage is Less Damaging to Hair

Balayage uses less bleach than foil highlights, making it gentler on your hair. Also, because you can go longer between touch-ups, there’s a further reduction in the risk of damaging the hair.

Is Balayage Right For Everyone?

Balayage sounds too good to be true, and for some people, it could be. While it’s excellent for many hair shades, it can be harder to get good results with some darker tones. Some people with darker hair find that the balayage highlights appear brassy or reddish. Balayage can bring out warm tones in dark hair that is unexpected, but a skilled stylist can still make it work. 

The truth is, this is the case for highlights as well. Lightening darker hair is always a challenge, and darker tones tend to “pull warm” when lifted with bleach — this is just the nature of lightening hair. Your stylist will tell you ahead of time what you should expect and will plan ahead to get you the color and tone you want. They will also explain to you that it may take several sessions to get you to the shade you want. 

Don’t panic. Going from black (or dark brown) to blonde is not an immediate process, and it will take time to get to your end goal. Allow time for the process, and approach the process with realistic expectations.

While your hair color may determine whether or not balayage is right for you, your hair texture won’t usually matter. In fact, for those with natural hair, it can help create highlights that gently hug the curve of curls and coils, creating a beautifully natural look.

Because balayage doesn’t retain any heat during the process (unlike foil highlights), it is less damaging to curly hair. Adding a protective bond builder can even help the hair’s elasticity, making it less prone to breakage after applying the highlights.

Before You Get a Balayage

It’s a good idea to schedule a consultation with your stylist before you go in for balayage (or any other color treatment). Your stylist can assess your hair to see if the process is a good fit for you, and they can also help you determine how many sessions it will take to get you to the color you want.

If possible, bring photos of the look you’re trying to achieve. Your stylist can tell you if what you want is realistic with balayage or whether a different technique would be more suitable.

Book Your Balayage Today

At Salt Salon & Spa, we know that everyone deserves to look and feel their best. Our stylists can help you choose the best color or treatment to make your hair look amazing. 

If your usually luscious locks are looking a little worse for the wear, it’s time to give them some love. 

From deep conditioning and repair treatments to full color, balayage, and keratin straightening services, our expert cosmetologists are ready to save your locks from dullness, dryness, and everything in between. Are you ready for hot-girl summer? Give us a call or book your consultation online today, and let’s get you looking fabulous (and feeling even better!)