What is Balayage? The Specifics of Balayage Hair

Many hair styling trends come and go, but balayage is one that grew in popularity around 2014 and has remained in vogue since then. Balayage (pronounced BAH-LEE-AHGE) is a low-maintenance lightening technique to make your hair lighter without altering your base hair color.

This technique makes your hair appear more voluminous and blends your natural roots with the rest of your hair. Balayage hair simulates appears the natural lightening that happens when your hair is exposed to the sunlight. The result is a subtle effect that makes your hair look wonderful.

Let’s look at the details of balayage, what it is, and how to maintain balayage hair.

What is Balayage?

Balayage is a hair highlighting technique that does not use foils to separate the treated hair from the untouched hair. In balayage, the hair stylist paints the color or lightener directly onto the hair, creating an effect that emulates natural sun lightening.

The term balayage come from the French word “balayer” which means “sweeping”. This refers to the way the color is applied to the hair, and not the color itself. By hand-painting the highlights into the hair, the result is a blended, natural-looking gradation of lightening that tapers near the end of the hair. The balayage technique is reminiscent of highlights created by long hours in the sun during summer. This highlighting technique is often used to create a sun-kissed “beach look”.

Hair stylists use balayage to create subtle transitions on all types and colors of hair.

Why is the Balayage Technique Becoming Popular?

One of the most practical reasons balayage has become popular is it allows you to grow out your hair naturally while visiting the salon less frequently than with normal highlights. Instead of touching up the roots every eight weeks or so, with balayage, you can space out visits to every 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of balayage.

Another factor in the popularity of balayage is every hair styling session is unique. Each cosmetologist can apply the lightener to accentuate your specific head of hair. Different hues and accents can be added based on a person’s specific hair color, length, and texture. This leads to numerous unique possibilities for balayage placement, color and gradation.

Balayage can also make your hair look more voluminous and look completely natural. For these reasons, many celebrities, models, and influencers are choosing to get balayage treatments.

What’s the Difference Between Balayage and Highlights?

“Highlights” is a broad term that refers to any hair that is lighter than the base color. Traditional highlights are created by applying color or lightener to separated strands of hair which is wrapped in foil. Highlighted hair that is lightened using the foiling method is usually lightened from root to tip. The foil helps isolated the color-treated hair from the untreated hair. Also, the foil helps heat up the hair, which open the cuticle , allowing thelightener to penetrate the hair shaft and bind to the hair cortex.

The result of highlights are long strips of colored or lightened hair which stands out from the rest of the hair.

Balayage is when the color or lightener is applied by hand, usually starting at the mid-point of the length of hair, and going down to the ends

How is Balayage Different from Ombré, Sombré, and Babylights?

Balayage is a term that is often collectively applied to ombré, sombré, and babylights — but there is a distinction between each of these techniques.

Ombré is a French word that means “shadow” and the ombré technique is a gradation from dark to light. Contrary to balayage, ombré hair is usually dark at the root to midway down the length of the hair, when it starts to lighten. With ombré hair, the ends of the hair are very light. The overall effect looks like the hair has been dip-dyed. In balayage, the hair is hand-painted, and the lightened areas are blended more naturally.

Sombré is similar to ombré, but with less of a contrast between the light and dark areas of the hair. The gradation in sombré tends to start higher up the length of the hair, and closer to the roots (though not at the roots). Sombré still has a gradation from dark to light, but it is more subtle and natural looking.

Babylights are meant to emulate the appearance of a child’s natural highlights. A babylight is achieved by taking extremely thin sections of hair and creating a very subtle sun-kissed highlight effect. This type of highlight is most often used to break up the underlying root color so the grow-out is less obvious.

How Much Does Balayage Typically Cost?

A balayage treatment usually costs between $200 and $500, depending on the rates of the salon and market where you are located. If you are in a major city, or if the cosmetologist is vastly experienced, the price may be on the higher end of the scale.

What Hair Types Can Balayage Be Applied To?

All hair types from straight to extra curly can have balayage coloring applied successfully. Balayage can also be used on all different hair colors. Many hair stylists use different natural colors to create natural-looking balayage effects.

Can People DIY Balayage at Home?

It is not advised to balayage at home, as the application technique takes training and practice to master. Oftentimes, DIY balayage results in the color bleeding into the non-colored hair. This can be corrected by a professional hair stylist, but it is better to go to a salon for balayage coloring.

How Should You Care for Balayage Hair?

Balayage usually means that you can space out your salon appointments; how much will depend on your base color and balayage color. If you are using balayage to add highlights to your base color for more warmth, going to the salon every six months for full service is a baseline. If you have lightened your hair significantly, with blondehighlights on top of a dark brunette base color, appointments every 3 to 4 months are more appropriate.

You can also help maintain your balayage color at home by using hydrating conditioners and masks. If your hair is gradually turning warmer then you would like, you can also use a purple shampoo to preserve the balayage.

Learning More About Hairstyles and Cosmetology

Do you envision yourself pursuing a career in cosmetology and hairstyling? MTI College in Sacramento can help train you to become a licensed cosmetologist. Students of the MTI Cosmetology School by Paul Mitchell in Sacramento have the opportunity to be trained by professional hairstylists. The instructors bring their skills, passion, and real-world experience with them into the classroom, focusing on passing on what they know to the next wave of cosmetology professionals.

To take the first step towards a cosmetology career, contact our Admissions department for more information.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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