Considering a balayage makeover? These oh-so-Instagrammable twists on the classic freehand hair colouring technique look ridiculously good…
For a very long time, social media has been obsessed with the concept of ‘French girl beauty’. And, as it basically boils down to keeping things looking as natural, louche and effortless as possible, it has become an absolute post-lockdown mood.
It makes sense, then, that the balayage trend – a freehand hair colouring technique born out of Paris in the 70s – is bigger than ever at the moment. Think about it; it grows out well, it’s low maintenance, and it’s influenced by natural sunlight, which means it ticks every single ‘French girl beauty’ box in a very big way.
Better still, though? Well, balayage is super customisable, which means it can be pretty much adapted to suit anyone’s personal style and tastes.
As Zoë Irwin, colour trend expert at Wella Professionals, tells us: “All about hand painting rather than foils, this technique swerves the uniform colouring pattern and challenges stylists to look at how the light hits the hair and paint it in pieces instead.
“Naturally left with a root colour, once the hair is lightened you can play with those lightened pieces by putting a toner over the top, which creates lots of different effects depending on the colours you use.”
Cold brew coffees might be a summer staple, but this new balayage trend is definitely giving us autumnal vibes.
“This colour technique mimics the beautiful colour blends that occur when you mix coffee with a splash of milk and ice,” explain the experts at L’Oreal, adding that the look is “totally customisable – just like your coffee.”
“If you drink your coffee black, your cold brew is likely darker, mixed with reddish hues from melted ice,” they continue. “If you take your coffee with lots of milk and sugar, your cold brew will surely be light and sweet. It’s up to you which shade of cold brew you take your hair colour inspiration from!”
Foilayage, as you may have guessed from the name, sees your colourist use a combination of to hand-paint highlights throughout your hair before wrapping each in a sheet of foil.
The result? Bright, natural, and super dimensional highlights that create a beautiful sunkissed effect – in far less time than a classic balayage. Win!
Caramel / warm blonde balayage
An oldie but an undeniable goodie, this warm balayage calls for “butter blonde tones mixed with caramel,” explains Irwin, which means that it perfectly “emulates the effect of sunshine.”
She continues: “It’s become really popular for people with more of a darker base, mainly due to the fact it looks so much like what happens to natural hair in the sun. It’s a very easy-breezy beach effect.
“I recommend my clients to use Wella Color Fresh Mask in Caramel Glaze in between salon visits to keep this looking gorgeous.”
“This multi-dimensional trend works so well on brunettes, lightening the hair and using different toners to create what I call double and tripled-hued brunettes,” says Irwin.
“Double or tripled-hued colours are where different toners are used throughout – and, in this instance, it’s taking the darker base, which is essential for any good balayage, and playing with different toners on the strategically lightened pieces.”
Ash brown balayage
“Much as the name suggests, this trend sees your colourist lift up the hair and then flatten it down using an ash brown toner, which adds beautiful dimensions to a brunette,” explains Irwin.
“It looks more subtle, soft and natural than some other forms of balayage and is popular with people who maybe have a bit more grey in their hair.”
However, Irwin cautions: “It’s important to look after this colour at home properly, however, because it can start to look more caramel over time. I always send my clients home with Wella Professionals Color Fresh, which is a semi permanent conditioning colour enhancer that keeps the hair the right ash tone in between salon visits. Otherwise, try using a purple shampoo once a week or so to keep those brassy tones at bay.”
Air touch balayage
A special form of balayage that’s created using hairdryers? Colour us intrigued.
“Basically, the stylist will have the hairdryer on cold, take slices of hair and hold the ends of the hair to the nozzle. This will help to blow away all of the shorter pieces, and then they’ll balayage what’s left in their hands,” says Irwin, talking us through the process.
“This means that the hair being coloured is much finer, resulting in something softer and more seamless in dimension – a bit like microlights and babylights.”
Face frame balayage
Money piece highlights were a big trend in the 90s, and they’re back for 2021 (just check out TikTok if you don’t believe us).
“This, coupled with people taking selfies using a light or ring light, has birthed the #faceframebalayage,” says Irwin. “It’s about putting a strong illumination at the front, which emulates the lightening effect a camera flash has on our hairlines.
“This is a softer version of a money piece, because it will all be blended through – but it will still be striking, as the colour is sure to pop a bit more than with a traditional balayage.”
Strawberry blonde balayage
Whoever said that balayage was just for blondes and brunettes, eh?
“Rose-based, soft, really delicate, this is a very pretty form of balayage,” says Irwin. “It blends really well with paler blonde shades, so what I would do is lighten the hair and then use different toners – strawberry blonde on one section, butter blonde on another – for a gorgeous natural redhead effect.”
“This is about adding lots of depth and darker tones,” says Irwin. “Essentially, you’re putting darker colours through the hair, and making them pop against a much lighter shade. And this could include putting a root shadow in as well; chat to your stylist and see what they advise.”
“Inspired by the amazing rosewood tree and all of its incredible multitones, this trend creates a pink brown effect with a lot of depth to it; think warmer tones against a deep or mid brown. Personally, I use Illumina Color or Koleston Perfect ME+ both by Wella Professionals to create this look, and I look to the Danish rosewood tree in particular for inspiration.”
How to keep your balayage looking fresh and beautiful
“The trick to keeping this look up at home, like with all colour, is to use the right products,” says Irwin.
“As well as the right shampoos and conditioners – some of my favourites are Wella Professionals Color Motion Shampoo, a protective cleanser for coloured hair and Wella Professionals Color Motion Structure Mask – I always send my clients home with something to keep their colour fresh between salon visits. Look for a good hair colour depositing mask and glossing treatment, such as Wella Professionals Color Fresh Masks, which are available in 11 shades.”
Thankfully, though, balayage is created in such a way as to look even more effortless as it grows out, which means it shouldn’t need too much home maintenance. Speak to your hairdresser and be realistic about how often you can pop back in for colour top ups, and be sure to ask their advice if you’re unsure about anything at all.
See you at the salon, yeah?