Balayage hair trends: all your questions about 2021’s most popular colour technique, answered

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Chloe Burcham
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The balayage hair trend has been around for years but its popularity increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. We spoke to hairstylist Luke Hersheson to find out why balayage remains one of the most popular colour trends around.

Balayage, ombré, dip-dye or babylights: it’s no secret that the language around hair colour trends can be confusing. Gone are the days where your dye decision was as simple as a ‘full head’ or ‘foils.’ Nowadays, learning the lingo is key to perfecting your hair colour outcome. 

While the balayage hair trend is nothing particularly new, according to Google Trends, people’s interest in the technique has soared over the last year. Why? Because balayage actually looks better the longer you leave it to grow out, meaning those lockdown roots will only enhance your hair colour job. 

Considering a balayage hair makeover? We spoke to CEO of Hersheshons, hair stylist Luke Hersheson, to help us deep dive into the world of balayage hair…

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What is balayage?

Let’s start with the basics: what is balayage? 

“Balayage is a low maintenance hair colour technique, which is great for people wanting a fuss free and long-lasting alternative to traditional highlights,” explains Luke.

The word balayage comes from the French word “balayer” meaning to “sweep,” which is the literal approach to how the technique is carried out. 

“The balayage technique involves hand painting pieces of hair creating a very fluid, natural colour that only looks better the more it grows out,” says Luke. “I’d say that typically about 90% of the colour we perform in our salons is a form of balayage, as it works so well with all hair types.”  

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What’s the difference between balayage and highlights?

“Traditional highlights use foils and colour is applied to the root of the hair and saturated right down the length of the entire hair shaft,” Luke explains.

This often means that you end up with a clear definition of root growth, meaning you need regular trips to the salon to keep on top of your roots. “This technique was used a lot in the 70s when hair colouring first became really popular amongst the masses,” explains Luke. “Nowadays, we often try to recreate something that looks completely natural, which is where balayage can come in.”

Balayage typically involves holding pieces of hair against a board and hand-painting the colour onto the hair. Colour is applied to pieces of hair and blended from the root, saturating more colour towards the ends. This way your result is much more natural-looking (as hair typically lightens from the sun as it grows) and is designed to ‘grow out’ and blend in with your hair as time goes on.

What’s the difference between balayage and ombré?

Ombré or dip dye is a technique of colouring hair that has a gradual dark to light effect from root to tip. It can look quite dramatic as the hair is usually coloured as a whole, creating a stark contrast from dark to light. 

Balayage has a similar effect to ombré but as balayage is a softer highlighting technique, it’s much more subtle and natural-looking, as the colour is painted onto the hair in very thin strands. 

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Does balayage work on textured, curly and afro hair?

“Absolutely,” says Luke. “Balayage looks great on all hair textures and because the technique is so visual and hand-painted, it’s able to be really personalised to each client.”

Balayage hair inspiration

  • Chunky blonde balayage by @kristen_ess

    This soft balayage is perfect for brunettes wanting to add warmth and blonder tones, without the commitment of traditional highlights. Ask for chunkier pieces to be added around your jawline to help frame the face. 

  • Warm brunette balayage by @harryrjohnson

    More colour is added towards the ends of the hair, with finer pieces blended through the roots, making this balayage look super natural - even though a lot of colour has actually been added. 

  • Natural sun-kissed balayage by @minxsheen

    This super soft colour switch-up mimics the natural highlights you’d expect to see from the sun. Fine highlights are added through the lengths of the hair, leaving the roots natural meaning it will look great, even once it’s grown out. 

  • Balayage twists by @marleyxavier

    As balayage is such a visual technique, there really is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Gorgeous warm pieces are added into each twist to give a sun-kissed effect throughout the hair. 

  • Chocolatey balayage by @hairpaintingbymaxine

    This gorgeous golden hair transformation adds in tones of caramel, chocolate and biscuit making for a truly delicious looking balayage. 

  • Ash brunette balayage by @joshwoodcolour

    Want an ashier look? Ask for a toner to be added post-colour to knock out any brassiness and seamlessly melt together your new balayage colour.

  • Soft curly balayage by @jessicablaxley

    This full-head balayage adds definition and softness around the edges of the hair leaving the roots natural and dark. As the hair grows out, the golden blonde balayage will only look better. 

  • Balayage for curly hair by @radiantlycurly

    This gorgeous balayage works perfectly on curly hair. The rich caramel and golden shades are perfect for adding warmth to brunette hair without going too blonde. 

  • Major blonde balayage by @samanthacusicklondon

    The perfect combination of highlights and balayage, this multi-dimensional blonde leaves just enough natural root visible so you won’t need to worry about maintenance.

  • Golden chunky balayage by @imogencoates

    If you’re sick of getting your roots redone every 6 weeks then a blonde balayage is the way to go. These honey coloured highlights make for the perfect beachy balayage leaving enough natural root for a super natural blended finish.

  • Natural beachy balayage by @kristin_ess

    Queen of the blonde balayage, Lauren Conrad’s super natural colour is the easiest way to do low-maintenance blonde. As the hair grows, the roots will only blend in more leaving a blended beachy look to the hair. 

How to care for balayaged hair:

The beauty of balayaged hair is that it can be left to grow out naturally, meaning it often doesn’t result in as much hair damage as highlights or a full head of colour can. To get the most out of your colour for longer, these colour-perfecting products can help.

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