If you thought beautiful, effortless, lazy-girl hair was just a dream, think again. Balayage is the ultimate minimal-maintenance colour technique perfect for summer.
The colouring technique involves sweeping sections of hair lightly with blonde and golden highlights. But, unlike other colouring techniques, the highlights are blended seamlessly throughout lengths (think soft caramels harmonised with luminous blondes) to ensure that there’s never a band of colour or tell-tale roots left visible. In fact, it only gets better and more blended with time.
It’s not new – it’s been a favourite among celebrities and influencers for years – but because the technique gives such pretty dimension, it’s not going anywhere fast. However, it has been updated. Pro stylists have continued to experiment with new colour combinations and application techniques to make the finish softer and more beautiful than ever before.
The latest iteration is the “balayage blur,” says Adam Reed, pro hair stylist and UK Editorial Ambassador for L’Oreal Professionnel. “The beautiful blurred tone makes it look like you’ve been in the south of France and you’ve got a naturally lightened colour around the hairline and face so that it enhances your haircut and your skin tone,” he says, which sounds exactly like our kind of party.
Before you reach for the box dye, though, “balayage is very technical,” explains Adam. “It’s a pro technique that requires real skill. You should be able to go from shadowed roots to light ends and not be able to see that transformation.” It’s about looking at the haircut and defining specific strands with considered colour placement. “Balayage is a freehand technique so it can be very personalised,” says Adam. Get it right and it’ll give you healthy, glossy, three-dimensional colour that looks like it’s been lit perfectly by the sunshine (even on a dull day).
As for upkeep, you can refresh it as little or as often as you’d like. Since the lighter strands are deliberately subtle, it will grow out to look like your ends have simply been sun-kissed, which means you’re not committing yourself to regular appointments at the salon or trying to master the art of at home hair dye.
Here’s everything you need to know…
What is Balayage?
Balayage is a technique, not a look. It’s French for “sweep”. The idea is to create areas of light and shade throughout the hair by applying colour with a brush and paddle board. The visual colouring method creates a chic, easy to maintain hairstyle, which offers a more subtle approach to ombre and highlights. From blonde hair colours to brunette shades, there’s something for everyone.
What is the colouring technique behind the look?
The idea is that you don’t see where the highs or lows start. The transition from the base colour to the lighter ends is seamless and fluid.
How often should you top up your colour?
The good thing about balayage is that it’s low maintenance. You can go months without a salon visit to top it up, but in between, try gloss treatments every 4-6 weeks and a regular wash with a purple shampoo to keep the tone in check.
What is the difference between ombre, dip dye and balayage?
Ombré – Ombre hair gives light and shade. The idea is you see a seamless, gradual colour change from darker to lighter. Think lived-in, beachy hair.
Dip Dye – A much more edgy look. Two toned colouring… imagine dipping the ends of your hair into a pot of paint.
Balayage – Colour that is painted on with a brush and paddle board to create natural, sun-kissed looking highs and lows – giving the hair beautiful dimension.
Can you balayage your own hair at home?
For best results, always try and get a salon appointment. If you are going to try it yourself, Jason Potter, hair colourist at Hershesons, suggests the following for at-home care for balayage:
“Home hair care is really important. There is no point spending hours (and lots of money!) in the salon, if you don’t look after the condition of your hair with quality shampoos, conditioners and regular hair treatments. If you swim, use Phillip Kingsley’s Swim Cap. It protects your hair from the damaging effects of the sun, harsh chlorine and salt water, the last thing you want is hair that is dry, damaged and colour fading.”
Ready to be inspired by the A-listers that wear balayage so well? Keep scrolling for the ultimate queens of swept colour…
And don’t forget to swap your shampoo for a sulphate-free version to keep your colour vibrant for longer!