People have talked quite a bit about ombré since its first introduction in the early 2000s. However, although it’s certainly the most popular hair trend of the 21st century, many people ignore its very interesting cousin, balayage. This look tends to offer less maintenance and even a more natural look, making it a great option for anyone interested in starting a new hair look.
What Is Balayage?
Balayage is a French term that means “to sweep” or “to paint.” This name comes from the fact that it’s a freehand hair dyeing method, with no foil or clips. It gives your hair a very subtle look, similar to natural lightening effects that you might experience if you’re regularly in the sun. You can technically opt for any color change at both the roots and the ends, but it’s most commonly performed by lightening the hair from the natural shade at the top to a lighter color at the ends.
One of the biggest reasons people choose balayage is because of its low-maintenance manner. The transition between the dyed and undyed parts of your balayage is generally subtle, and the roots of your hair will stay their natural color, opposite to the way ombré looks. That means as it grows out, you don’t necessarily have to travel to the salon for touchups, and you can just let your hair grow out until you want to get it recolored.
Additionally, shorter styles can also benefit from balayage, which tends to be much more difficult for other hair color transitions. The more natural appearance of the transition makes it a great option for very short hair, even as short as a pixie cut.
How Is It Applied?
Balayage is applied freehand, with the stylist painting your hair using the hair lightening agent. That means this style is incredibly customizable, and it’s a good idea to look at your stylist’s other balayage works to make sure you enjoy the way they apply the dye. A good balayage stylist may use similar concepts as makeup artists, utilizing your skin tone, features, face-framing and lightening techniques.
Because you have to use chemical dye for balayage, it’s important to prepare your hair before you visit to ensure healthy hair. The most sensitive parts of your hair, the tips, will receive the most intense levels of treatment, which means it’s a good idea to make sure those parts are healthy before you go. Try to plan your session around getting a new cut, as your stylist will be able to cut those follicles down after the dyeing process.
One of the biggest benefits of balayage is its low maintenance requirements. It stays natural-looking all on its own for a long time, but there are still many things you can do to keep your look appearing as great as possible for as long as you can.
A color-saving shampoo and conditioner is a must, no matter what colors you’ve chosen for your balayage. This will help protect the integrity of the dye, and will especially protect it near the transition between your natural color and the dye.
Additionally, you might look to get a little bit of sun to help with that sun-bleached look. It’ll make your balayage look even more natural because, over time, it actually will be even more natural. Products that include natural sea salts can also help you get that perfect beachy wave.
The emergence of the balayage has largely been due to its adoption with celebrities. Rihanna and Jessica Alba, for example, have been known to use balayage as an easy way to craft a stunning look without a lot of salon upkeep. It’s true that ombré still reigns supreme overall, but balayage is one of the hottest new trends, especially for that summertime sun-kissed look.