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.
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.”
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.
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
Warm brunette balayage by @harryrjohnson
Natural sun-kissed balayage by @minxsheen
Balayage twists by @marleyxavier
Chocolatey balayage by @hairpaintingbymaxine
Ash brunette balayage by @joshwoodcolour
Soft curly balayage by @jessicablaxley
Balayage for curly hair by @radiantlycurly
Major blonde balayage by @samanthacusicklondon
Golden chunky balayage by @imogencoates
Natural beachy balayage by @kristin_ess
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.
Redken Color Extend Brownlights Duo
Designed with brunette balayage in mind, this colour toning shampoo and conditioner combo works to bring out multi-tonal colour in your hair while reducing the brassiness of blonde hues.
Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector
Any colourist’s best friend, the salon-loved Olaplex is now available for use at home. It works to seek out broken bonds in the hair (often caused by colour or heat damage) and repairs them, restoring compromised hair to its former glory - clever!
Hershesons Almost Everything Cream
The final finisher for all hair dos, Hershesons Almost Everything Cream is a one-size-fits-all solution to moisturise, protect, de-tangle, smooth, add shine and texture to every hair type.
Main image: Getty