What’s Balayage Hair? The Solely Information You may Ever Want


lauren conrad balayage hair inspiration

Balayage hair appeared to explode seemingly in a single day. Out of nowhere, our Instagram feeds have been instantly flooded with photographs of dimensional blonde locks with ultra-bright, face-framing items, tagged with #balayage. The pattern took off for good purpose⁠—balayage is a reasonably low-maintenance option to go lighter, because it preserves your base shade and sometimes blends your pure roots for softer develop out.

However what precisely is balayage, and the way do you accurately ask your colorist for this look? For starters, balayage is technically a method utilized by your colorist, relatively than a selected shade itself. Confused? No worries: We break down all the pieces you have to know, under, with the assistance of professional colorists Lisa Satorn, Olivia Casanova, and Jordan Heidenwith.


Forward, all the pieces you have to learn about balayage, what to anticipate from the method, the way it differs from different highlighting strategies, how a lot you’ll be able to count on to pay, and extra.


  • The best way to Pronounce Balayage: bah-lee-ahj
  • Selecting a Shade: The choices are seemingly infinite relating to selecting a shade. “Balayage will be very versatile, making it a great choice for most individuals,” Cassanova says. Nonetheless, for much less repairs, hold your base shade as near your pure shade as doable. If you happen to’re okay with extra upkeep, you’ll be able to go lighter.
  • Upkeep Degree: Low to medium. If you happen to’re turning to balayage simply so as to add a contact of additional heat and dimension, entering into twice a yr needs to be greater than sufficient. Nonetheless, in the event you’re counting on balayage to interrupt up your pure base shade or considerably lighten your hair, you must count on to enter the salon a couple of instances a yr, Heidenwith notes. “My common balayage shopper comes about each three to 4 months,” Satorn provides. “However that may simply go as much as six months since there’s a seamless grow-out.”
  • Goes Nice With: All pores and skin tones; it is extremely customizable.
  • Related Strategies: Ombré, Sombré, Foil-ayage
  • Value: In NYC, a full service with tip can price upwards of $400, and a partial between $200-$300. In different elements of the nation, full service appointments will be as little as $150 and partial appointments as little as $75-$100. In brief, it is troublesome to offer a precise determine as a result of the wants of everybody’s hair, the place they’re having it accomplished, and the credentials and charges of the colorist differ.

What Is Balayage?

Opposite to widespread perception, balayage is a shade utility approach, relatively than a selected shade itself. The phrase interprets to “sweep” or “paint” in French. Brilliant across the face, blended on the roots, lighter ends, and effortlessly pure are all descriptors of balayage hair. “Assume undone, cool surfer woman hair,” Cassanova explains, “Virtually such as you spent a summer season on the seashore.” The balayage approach is used to realize a really naturally blended, lightened look, and whereas we usually affiliate balayage with turning into blonde, the identical approach can be utilized to create caramel, espresso, and even pastel strands.

In contrast to conventional highlights, which use foils, balayage entails portray onto the hair with a brush dipped in lightener. “It is a freehand highlighting approach,” Satorn says. “Through the use of a sweeping movement, it creates a gentle, multidimensional and pure trying spotlight.” Colorists use their brushes to color sweeps of vertical highlights onto the hair with strips of cotton or saran wrap layered between every part, which protects the appliance by avoiding any shade bleeding or recognizing.

Balayage vs. Ombré vs. Foil Highlights

Woman in the process of getting foil highlights

Regardless of balayage approaching the scene within the ’70s, it did not surge in recognition within the US till someplace round 2010. “Earlier than [balayage], I used to be nonetheless doing a standard, basic foil look (assume circa 2000s; very blonde highlights to the basis),” Cassanova tells us. And whereas each balayage and conventional foil highlights are utility strategies that concentrate on lighter hair, they’ve diversified outcomes.

“Balayage offers a multidimensional spotlight, which might seem extra pure as a result of it creates completely different ranges of lightness,” Satorn explains. “Conventional foils give a extra uniform and even end, making a single-dimensional spotlight.” Heidenwith provides, “I feel when selecting a method, all of it relies on the shopper’s hair and what their desired look is. For many ‘excessive distinction’ seems, I normally use a foil in some kind of option to lock in warmth and guarantee lightness.”

However the highlighting choices do not cease there. Like balayage and conventional highlights, ombré, a French time period that means “shaded” or “graduated in tone,” is a typical request for lightened hair. Nonetheless, whereas balayage is used to realize extra of an all-over shade from roots to ends, ombré seems to be completely grown-out hair shade. Its shade gradient usually goes from darker roots to lightened ends with little to no shade utilized close to the roots.

The Advantages of Balayage

  • Appears to be like extra pure than conventional highlights: The character of balayage is to color particularly chosen strands and mix them together with your pure base. As such, balayage seems a lot softer than conventional foil highlights, which are inclined to have extra apparent strains of demarcation.
  • Low-maintenance: As a result of the lightened strokes are painted on so softly to realize that pure look, they depart no hint of harsh, blunt strains or apparent regrowth, permitting for extra time between your appointments.
  • Coloration is much less prone to “bleed”: With balayage, colorists use a barrier between their sections to forestall the layers of bleach from touching. “The good thing about utilizing cotton or saran wrap in between sections is to forestall the lightener from bleeding, which might create a blotchy dye job,” Cassanova says. If foils are positioned too shut, it might depart what’s known as a “bleed,” or a spot of bleach that is leaked onto the hair beneath the foil, and that may be troublesome to repair.
  • Much less harm: As a result of balayage would not contain saturating your total head of hair in bleach (as is the case with double-process), you utilize much less bleach and thus get a lightened look with considerably much less harm to your hair.

The Drawbacks of Balayage

In accordance with our specialists, your pure hair shade and its tones (e.g. heat, impartial, or cool) will affect the outcomes of your balayage. “Typically individuals with very darkish hair can pull very pink/orange heat tones when getting balayage accomplished,” Cassanova says. “If you happen to’re somebody who doesn’t like heat tones, then balayage might be not for you. The hair can flip brassy extra rapidly than with conventional highlights (relying in your pure hair shade).” Satorn agrees, telling us that with even the slightest drop of heat in your shade, it may very well be very troublesome to realize your required tone with balayage. “I like providing balayage to shoppers that love a touch of heat to replicate towards their spotlight (and don’t thoughts multiple appointment to get to their desired lightness).”

Whereas a toner can rapidly repair undesirable heat, it’s vulnerable to fading out and leaving you with that undesirable brassiness. You might determine that maintaining with extra frequent toners between balayage appointments is value it, however keep in mind that would require extra repairs, as effectively.


Is Balayage Secure For Pure Hair?

In comparison with different, extra conventional approaches to lightening the hair, Cassanova tells us that balayage is somewhat simpler on all hair varieties, particularly curly haired women who put their curl patterns in danger when selecting to go lighter. “There isn’t any warmth being retained inside any foils forcing your hair to carry faster, which might typically trigger harm if over-processed,” she explains.

“I take further care to comply with the curl sample of the hair and can depart extra unfavorable area between every balayage spotlight, ensuring to maintain dimension,” Satorn says. With the correct utility and components, she assures us that the hair will not get broken, it doesn’t matter what kind of texture you have got. “Naturally coily hair is an ideal candidate for balayage as a result of it gained’t make your highlights look stripy,” Cassanova says. “So long as it is accomplished sluggish and regular with a bond builder similar to Olaplex or Uberliss,” she provides.

The best way to Put together for Balayage

  1. At all times carry a number of photographs that symbolize your purpose: There are such a lot of strategies and names for issues that each one have completely different meanings to stylists. Photographs make it simpler to get everybody on the identical web page to agree on issues by visually mentioning sure particulars.
  2. Include clear hair: “I like to balayage on clear hair so I do know there isn’t a buildup of product, dust, or oil that will hinder the lifting course of,” Satorn says.
  3. Attempt a conditioning remedy a couple of days beforehand: “You’ll be able to prep your hair through the use of both Olaplex No. 3 ($28) or Uberbliss Bond Sustainer ($15) at residence a couple of weeks main as much as your appointment,” Cassanova advises. “This fashion you’ll be able to assist strengthen your hair to make sure minimal harm when lightening.”
  4. Put on your go-to coiffure: Relating to balayage, your colorist will paint otherwise relying on whether or not you put on your hair curly or straight. So arriving together with your hair styled how you’d usually put on it helps colorists to higher place highlights.

What to Count on In the course of the Course of

With balayage, your colorist hand-selects which sections or strands of hair can have lightener utilized to them. Sometimes, lightener is extra extremely focused on the face-framing items of the hair, the ends, and the highest layer of hair for a extra dimensional look. Relying in your base shade and your required finish outcome, your stylist will usually miss a couple of sections of the hair and never dye or lighten them. This helps create that gentle, dimensional, blended look that balayage is so well-known for.

Balayage is normally executed with bleach, and can usually contain a spherical of toner or gloss as effectively. It is really helpful to see your colorist for a session first earlier than reserving your balayage appointment so that you just each have loads of time to debate the very best match for you earlier than the bleaching day.


Each appointment is somewhat completely different primarily based on the present state of your hair and what you need your finish outcome to seem like, however this is a basic framework for what you’ll be able to count on at your balayage appointment, which might take wherever from three to 5 hours.

  1. Your colorist will consider your hair: Even in the event you’ve already are available for a session, your colorist will start by evaluating your hair and inspiration photographs. They will probably ask you questions on how typically you warmth fashion, which method you half your hair, the way you normally fashion it, how typically you are dedicated to returning for touch-ups, and in the event you’re open to having a trim earlier than deciding on the ultimate shade plan for the day.
  2. Sectioning and hand-painting your hair: When you and your colorist have selected a remaining shade plan collectively primarily based in your objectives and life-style, they will combine up some lightener and produce it over to the station the place you are seated. That is your likelihood to go to the toilet, be sure to have a beverage, and that your telephone/ebook/journal is out in your lap as a result of as soon as the portray course of begins, you will be seated in your chair for one to 2 hours, relying on how a lot hair you have got and the way a lot lighter you are going. Your colorist will work part by part, portray particularly chosen strands from a bit of hair after which overlaying that part with cotton or saran wrap so the lightener would not bleed into undesirable hair sections. The lighter you are going, the smaller the sections can be and the extra strands from every part they may select to color.
  3. Sitting below the dryer: Your colorist will probably have you ever sit below a dryer to expedite the lightening course of. Lightener begins engaged on contact, so your hair has been slowly lightening as lightener was utilized to every part. Because of this, your colorist would possibly solely apply the dryer to the second half of your head (for the reason that lightener had been sitting on the primary facet of your hair for longer). Or, when you have fragile hair or are going for extra delicate highlights, your colorist would possibly skip the dryer altogether and simply have you ever sit within the chair with none warmth whereas the lightener works its magic. Both method, you possibly can be ready for the lightener to course of for wherever from 15-45 minutes. Your colorist will come by a couple of instances throughout this time interval and examine on how your hair is reacting to ensure your strands do not over-lighten.
  4. Rinsing and making use of a protein remedy: As soon as your stylist decides your strands have lightened to the best shade, you will head over to the bowl to be rinsed out. It is not unusual to your stylist’s assistant to do that half, and relaxation assured that they are particularly educated to execute these steps to perfection. As a result of bleach will be harsh in your hair, you will probably obtain a protein remedy like Olaplex to revive the bonds in your hair.
  5. Making use of gloss: Whereas your hair is lightened by the bleach when your stylist hand-paints, likelihood is it isn’t the precise tone you are searching for. Maybe your inspiration photographs featured a golden blonde, however your base shade is of course ashier. On this step, your colorist (or their assistant) will apply toner to assist mix your pure base and new highlights collectively and obtain the general tone you are going for, be it extra golden or icier. As soon as a moisture-restoring gloss is utilized evenly all through the hair, it normally has to sit down for about 10 minutes. Your colorist will examine the colour after this time-frame and make sure if it needs to be rinsed out or if the components ought to sit for a bit longer. When you’re prepared, you will be shampooed and conditioned.
  6. Trimming and blow-drying: As soon as you’ve got acquired a tone or gloss, you are able to be trimmed and blow-dried. If you happen to’re having a major haircut the identical day you are getting balayage, your stylist will probably trim your hair whereas it is dry earlier than lightener is utilized so your colorist would not must waste time lightening hair that is simply going to be minimize away. However in the event you’re simply getting a trim, it’ll happen after your hair is lightened.


Whereas balayage does permit for fewer salon appointments unfold additional aside, there are some issues to remember between appointments to assist hold your hair wholesome and your shade trying its finest. For one, Heidenwith suggests doing a gloss or a hairline touchup. “Firming in between will assist hold the specified tone in tact, whereas hairline touch-ups will assist preserve brightness.”

Exterior of the salon, Heidenwith says that moisture shampoos and conditioners are a should. “The ends get so saturated with balayage utility that the colour on the ends can really feel drier quicker,” he says. Turning to an oil, like Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue Nourishing Protecting Hair Oil ($69), will assist as effectively, particularly if warmth styling is part of your routine. “Additionally, a purple shampoo is nice to make use of on occasion to guard the colour from going too heat,” Heidenwith provides. So if brassiness does turn into a priority of yours, there are steps you’ll be able to take to assist protect your shade straight from the comforts of your individual residence.

The Value

The price of balayage varies vastly relying on the present state of your hair and the place you are having it accomplished. It is really helpful to ebook a session together with your colorist earlier than reserving a balayage appointment. Throughout this session, you’ll be able to ask your colorist how typically you would need to are available for touch-ups and what your colorist prices for these appointments.

For instance, when you have brown to darkish blonde hair, you possibly can are available for 2 “full” providers a yr (the place your colorist lightens sections throughout your head) and one “partial” service (the place solely half of the sections in your head are lightened) in the event you’re keen to cope with a couple of imperfections (like brassiness) between appointments. If you’d like your balayage to look good year-round, you’d probably wish to ebook two full appointments and two partial appointments.

Our Favourite Appears to be like

Heat-Toned Curls

Wealthy caramel and honey hues mix completely collectively, whereas springy curls add one other dimension to this voluminous look.


Side view of curled hair with silver-toned balayage

As you’ll be able to see from the ashy, silver hues all through a raven-black base, this shade has by no means been extra delightfully daring and trendy.

Mermaid Second

Woman with long, wavy hair with brown balayage

These lengthy locks have been painted with a silky, impartial brown hue that brightens, albeit subtly. It is brown balayage at its most interesting.

Fairly in Plum

Woman with burgundy and plum balayage curled hair

We love the melding of those raven, burgundy, and plum hues. The highlights on the ends of her hair stop the general look from feeling weighed down.

Blurred Bronde

The honey and golden hues body these pure cool-brown tones fantastically, mixing collectively and making a gentle glowing impact. It is completely romantic.

Pop of Platinum

Woman with dirty blonde hair and platinum face-framing balayage

If it is a visually easy look you are after, this blonde balayage quantity is it. The colour mix reminds us of a cloudy day on the seashore while you put on a comfy sweater and produce a great ebook.

Seamless Drama

Woman with wavy dark hair with platinum blonde balayage

We love this high-contrast blonde and darkish brown that calls to thoughts cookies and cream. Take into account this cool-toned hue in case your pores and skin has pink, pink, or bluish undertones.

Golden Hour

This fashion, described by the colorist as “rooty caramel,” is comparatively low-maintenance. Grown-out roots additionally contribute to its casual-cool vibe.

Delicate and Shiny

This chestnut brown balayage is so wealthy, it is gleaming. Apply a hair oil to strands to make sure gloss for days.

The Takeaway

Balayage refers to a lightening approach that entails lightening the face-framing items of the hair, the ends, and the highest outer-facing layer of the hair whereas nonetheless sustaining a few of your pure base shade. Keep in mind that balayage is a lightening approach, relatively than a selected shade, and it might or is probably not the the very best approach for reaching your shade objectives. You and your colorist ought to determine on that collectively. In case your colorist does advocate balayage primarily based on the present state of your hair and the colour you are searching for, you then’ll be happy to know balayage seems extra pure, produces much less apparent strains of demarcation, and softer grow-out at your roots when in comparison with conventional highlights. All in all, it is a good way to realize attractive, low-maintenance “surfer” hair with only a few journeys to the salon per yr.


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