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Balayage: The Definitive Guide to the Hair Trend That's Here to Stay

Balayage: a comprehensive guide. blog header with examples of different colours of balayage

Balayage is the answer for those seeking to transform their hair with a natural, sun-kissed look that demands minimal maintenance but offers maximum style. This revolutionary hair colouring technique has captivated the hair colouring world and is a buzzword in every Brighton hair salon. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the world of balayage, offering you the ultimate balayage inspiration and answering your burning questions.

Table of Contents

Understanding Balayage

Balayage, derived from the French word "bilayer", meaning "sweep" or "paint", is a hair colouring technique that involves hand-painting highlights onto the hair to create a sun-kissed sun-kissed look. Unlike the uniform finish of traditional highlights, balayage offers a multidimensional effect, resulting in a soft, seamless colour transition that complements your haircut and skin tone.

Balayage: A Historical Perspective

a vintage cover of vogue magazine relating to the origins of balayage

The history of Balayage, a hair colouring technique, dates back to the glamorous 1970s in Paris. Known for its subtlety and natural-looking results, Balayage debuted at the Carita salon, an exclusive Parisian hotspot renowned for its innovative approach to beauty. During this time,

it was called 'Balayage à Coton' because cotton strips separated the coloured hair from the undyed.

celebrity Jennifer Lopez with long caramel honey balayage hair

However, it wasn't until the '90s that balayage came into the spotlight, with A-list celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez popularising it.

This ingenious method radically departed from the traditional foil highlights, favouring a sun-kissed look with gradations of light and shade that mimicked natural hair highlights over the uniform colour a foiled technique offers. This revolutionary technique quickly became a beacon for those seeking a more natural and individualized look.

Fast forward to today, and Balayage has grown in popularity worldwide. It has become a staple in many salons, including Dawson Hair & Imaging in Brighton, where it is, to this day, the most popular and in-demand colouring service the salon offers.

The Balayage Process

manakin training head with examples of sections taken in the process of creating a  balayage.

The balayage process involves the freehand application of colour, using a brush and paddle board, onto selected sections of your hair. This delicate sweeping of light and shade throughout the hair allows stylists to create a beautifully blended hair colour that mimics the effect of natural sunlight on your locks. The resulting look is subtly lightened hair that avoids harsh lines and enhances your natural base colour.

Balayage vs. Traditional Highlights

While both balayage and traditional foil highlights aim to lighten hair, they yield different results. Standard foils offer a uniform and even finish, creating a single-dimensional highlight. On the contrary, balayage delivers a multidimensional and natural-looking highlight. The hand-painted, freehand technique of balayage ensures there are no tell-tale colour lines where the highlights begin, resulting in a softer, more natural result.

Balayage vs. Ombre

Balayage and ombre are popular choices for lightening hair but yield different results. While balayage aims to achieve an all-over colour from roots to ends, ombre seeks to create a perfectly blended colour that looks darker at the roots and progressively lightens towards the ends. Balayage is typically more subtle and blended, while ombre can be dramatic and stark in its colour contrast.

Is Balayage Suitable for All Hair Types?

The versatility of balayage makes it a viable option for most hair types. Whether your hair is naturally curly, straight, long, short, dark, or light, this colouring technique can be adapted to enhance your natural beauty. The key to a successful balayage lies in your Stylist's skills and the careful selection of colour to create a gentle contrast in harmony with your natural hair and skin tones.

Why is Balayage So Popular?

The popularity of balayage can be attributed to its low maintenance, timeless appeal, and natural, sun-kissed look. Unlike other hair colouring techniques, balayage allows for softer regrowth lines and less noticeable root growth. You can go longer between salon visits. This is a significant plus for busy people who prefer a more natural, effortless hairstyle.

Preparing for Balayage

To ensure the best results from your balayage treatment, there are a few steps you can take to prepare:

females with manicured nails holding a section of red hair between two fingers
  1. Consultation: Before booking your balayage appointment, it's recommended to have a consultation with your Stylist. This allows you to discuss your desired look, assess your hair's condition, and determine the best approach to achieve your hair goals. If it's your first visit to the salon, it allows an opportunity for your Stylist to perform a skin sensitivity test. (This should be booked 48 hours ahead of your appointment).

a hand holding a tube of keratin leave-in hair treatment

2. Hair care: Consider using a protein treatment a few days before your appointment. This will help strengthen your hair and ensure minimal damage when lightening. We recommend using INVIGO Pure Scalp.

Maintaining Your Balayage

Maintaining your balayage requires careful aftercare. While it's a low-maintenance hair colouring technique, there are steps you can take to ensure your balayage stays fresh and vibrant for longer: Use a sulfate-free shampoo: This prevents minimizing and is designed explicitly for cussed hair to maintain the vibrancy of your colour and keep your hair healthy. Use Professional Salon Quality Conditioning Treatments regularly. Regular Trims: Regular hair trims help keep your hair in optimal condition, reducing split ends and maintaining the shape of your hairstyle. Deep Conditioning Treatments: Regular deep conditioning treatments can help keep your hair hydrated and healthy, preserving the integrity of your balayage. Heat Protection: If you regularly use heat styling tools, use a heat protection spray to prevent damage to your coloured hair.

a collection of high-end hair care products for coloured hair infant of a taupe background

Popular Balayage Trends

  • Reverse Balayage

a girl with long blonde hair in a reverse balayage style

Reverse balayage is a modern twist on the traditional balayage technique. Instead of lightening the ends of your hair, reverse balayage involves darkening them. This creates a stunning contrast with the rest of the hair, resulting in a deep and rich colour. Unlike traditional balayage, which creates a sun-kissed effect, reverse balayage adds depth and dimension to the hair. It is an excellent option for those whose blonde has built up over time to break it up to create striking and eye-catching tonal contrast. Reverse balayage can be customized to suit different hair colours and lengths, making it a unique choice for anyone looking to update their hairstyle.

  • Money Piece Balayage

Money-piece balayage is a hair colouring technique that emphasizes the front sections of the hair, often referred to as the 'money pieces.' This style brightens the hair around the face, creating a flattering and eye-catching look. By strategically placing lighter tones in these sections, the hair is given dimension and depth, enhancing the facial features and adding a touch of elegance. Monpeice balayage is versatile and can be tailored to suit different hair colours and lengths, making it a popular choice for those seeking a low-maintenance yet stylish hair transformation.

  • Subtle/ Brown Balayage

a girl with long wavy hair showcasing her subtle, sun-kissed balayage hair colour from behind

Perfect for those who prefer a more understated, sunk-kissed, subtle balayage, it involves lighter shades very close to your natural hair colour, providing a gentle and soft enhancement.

  • Copper Balayage

Perfect for autumn or those with warm undertones, this balayage technique involves copper or caramel highlights that add a warm, rich depth to your hair. One of the most famous renditions of this trend is copper balayage, a fiery and vibrant take on the classic technique. Copper balayage blends warm, rich tones of red and orange into your hair, creating an incredibly dynamic and captivating look. This colour choice is perfect for those who want to add a bold touch to their appearance while maintaining an air of sophistication.

  • Honey Balayage

a girls with mid-length honey blonde coloured balayage hair.

This balayage style uses honey tones to give your hair a warm, sun-kissed glow. It's a perfect option for those with darker hair who want to lighten it without going blonde.

  • Ash/Silver Balayage

a girl with platinum ash silver balayage hair holding her head to her right.

This technique uses ashy or silver tones to create a calm, modern look. It's a popular choice for those who want to embrace the grey hair trend while still maintaining some of their natural colour.

  • Classic Balayage

a girl showing her classic balayage long wavy hair from behind wearing a light pink  blouse

Classic balayage is characterized by soft, natural-looking highlights seamlessly blending with the base colour. This technique focuses on creating dimension and depth in the hair, resulting in a sun-kissed effect. Here's an example:

a girl with long wavy balayage hair

In this image, you can see a brunette base colour with caramel and honey-toned highlights. The highlights are strategically placed throughout the hair, starting subtly at the roots and becoming more prominent towards the ends. The result is a beautiful, low-maintenance look that adds warmth and brightness to the overall style.

  • Babylights Balayage

a girl looks to the left with long wavy light blonde balayage hair with baby-lights.

Babylight balayage is all about creating fine, delicate highlights that mimic the natural hair colour of children. This technique is perfect for those wanting a subtle, youthful glow.

In this image, you can see a blonde base colour with soft, baby-blonde highlights. The highlights are skillfully painted onto thin sections of hair, resulting in a smooth and natural-looking blend. The baby lights add brightness and dimension, giving the hair a fresh and sunlit appearance.

  • Ombre Balayage

back of head of a girl with beautiful, long straight blonde ombre balayage hair
Photo Credit: Wella Professionals

Ombre balayage is a stunning blend of ombre's graduated effect and balayage's smooth blending. It usually starts with a darker root that subtly shifts to a lighter shade towards the ends. Picture it: a dark brown base transitioning into caramel-blonde, creating an eye-catching contrast and depth. It's dramatic, sophisticated, and downright gorgeous.

  • Pastel Balayage

Pastel balayage is a creative and playful take on the traditional balayage technique. It incorporates soft, pastel hues into the hair for a whimsical and dreamy look. Here's an example:

The beauty of balayage is its versatility. It can be tailored to suit your style, whether you prefer subtle, sun-kissed locks or a dramatic transformation. No matter the colour or intensity you choose, balayage delivers a multidimensional effect that traditional hair colouring methods can't match. So, if you're looking for a trend that's not only fashionable but also long-lasting, balayage might be your perfect match. Whether you're seeking a subtle colour change or a complete hair transformation, balayage offers endless possibilities to create a look that's uniquely you. However, remember that achieving the perfect balayage requires the skill and expertise of a professional stylist. Choose wisely and leave your local Brighton hair salon with a stunning balayage that enhances your hair and style.


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