As we get ready to step into Spring, many of our clients find themselves wanting to refresh and renew their hair color to give them a lighter, sun-kissed look. While the traditional method to achieve these results was to get foil highlights, a newly popular method called Balayage offers a natural-looking solution to get that effortless-looking, fresh off the beach look. If you’re thinking about lightening up your look for the season, here are somethings you should know before your next trip to the salon.

What is Balayage?

Balayage is the term used for the technique hair colorists use to free-hand “paint” a highlighting solution onto the hair, creating a soft and natural gradation of lightness towards the end of the hair strands. The result is a natural, sun-kissed look that will have people thinking you just spent at week on a tropical beach soaking up the sun. Pronounced BAH-LEE-AHGE, Balayage is actually a French word meaning “sweep,” and the treatment takes its name from the elegant gesture of sweeping color onto the hair. Balayage is unique because of the method in which color is applied to the hair. With Balayage, not necessarily all the ends will be affected and the transition between dark and light will be much longer and more natural looking.

How is Balayage different from other highlighting techniques?

It’s helpful to first provide some context around the term “highlights” to better understand what makes a Balayage treatment different and unique from other methods of highlighting. “Highlight” is the general term for the processes of lightening the hair from its original or base color. While many people automatically associate highlighting with adding blonde coloring to hair, highlights are not limited to just shades of blonde. So long as the desired shade is lighter than the original hair color, a highlighting technique is being performed.
Most often, hair colorists apply highlights using foils, where they use sheets of foil to separate sections of hair and cover those sections with a lightening agent and then wrap them in foil to process. The foil keeps the coloring agents from transferring to the surrounding hair, and also traps heat, allowing the lightener to work more effectively. Foil highlights are generally placed as close to the scalp as possible, changing the color of the hair from the roots to the ends for a root-to-tip look.
However, there are variations to this method, depending on the colorist and the treatment being performed. But the main difference between foil highlighting and Balayage is the technique in which it’s applied. Balayage allows colorists to hand select the pieces of hair they want to highlight giving the treatment a customized, natural-looking effect as well as a softer grow out.
Because Balayage is a free-hand technique it allows the colorist to create a soft and natural gradation of lightness along the hair strand—usually leaving the natural or darker color closer to the root and lighter colors towards the ends. Most often Balayage is focused towards the mid-shafts and ends of hair.

What to expect from a Balayage treatment

Instead of using foils and caps, Balayage is applied by hand with a brush and a backing board by a colorist who is experienced with the technique. Because the treatment does not require foils or other traditional highlighting tools, you can expect more of a customized and natural result instead of a uniform look like with foils. Your colorist can apply the color to specific areas that will brighten your features with lighter strands to accentuate them. Balayage is also a very low-maintenance because the color is intentionally placed away from the root – so the more your hair grows, the more intentional the treatment will appear, without a regrowth line that will require you to make frequent trips to the salon to upkeep the appearance of traditional highlights.

Ready to get started?

If you’re looking for a natural-looking, fresh update to your hair this Spring, come into one of The Salon Project’s locations and speak with a stylist to create the perfect Balayage treatment. Started by one of the world’s leading celebrity colorists, Joel Warren, The Salon Project is the go-to color destination for clients who want to stay up-to-date with their hair color and consult with experts in the industry. To get started, bring inspiration photos 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 is not only uniquely tailored to you, but will have all your friends wondering which tropical beach you just came back from! Call one of our locations today and let one of our experts get started on your Balayage custom highlights.