How To Balayage – My Top Tips

Have you noticed that there are some things that you never really tire of seeing? That first cup of coffee in the morning, a beautiful sunset….For me, one of my favourite sights has got to be the perfect (better than nature) sunkissed look that can only be achieved by a skilfully applied balayage.

I’m clearly not the only one, because I’ve had lots of requests for advice on how to balayage. I share all of my secrets on my balayage courses in London[link here], including some gems that will change the way you think about hair colour, but I’m really excited to share my top ten tips for mastering the balayage technique.

  1. Placement is always dictated by the haircut
    Have a clear plan of how the finished cut will look. Often Balayage can look unbalanced if the style is changed at the last minute, so it’s essential to have a good understanding with the stylist.
  2. The right brush can make or break you
    I have my favourites that I won’t allow anyone to borrow – it’s like a hairdresser’s scissors. I prefer a small brush about 1 ½ inches wide with soft bristles that can easily sweep across the hair. That is a personal choice, some people like wider brushes, whatever you opt for make sure it has a smooth surface.
  3. Get the right consistency
    I need a lightener to have a texture that is easy to apply in a sweeping motion, neither too thick (it makes it difficult to spread) or to thin (the colour drips through the section). I always like my dye to be like a cream cheese /yoghurt mixture, without lumps of unevenly mixed product .
  4. Look at the hair as you work
    How does the hair fall, are there naturally lighter areas? You need to take in to account the natural movement and variance in natural colour of your client’s hair. The placement and observations will make your balayage application stand out in a sea of perfectly placed foil highlights.
  5. Separate your balayage sections with cling film (plastic wrap)
    You need to be able to observe your placement and gain an overall picture of the final look (what I like to call the story). This handy tip will also allow you to observe the development of the colour.
  6. Focus on the most eye-catching areas
    The hairline and part areas are so important, as most ladies like to be brighter around the face and through their parting. Be careful, though, if you put too many in you will lose the effect. The final result is about the client’s hair looking as if she’s just spent two weeks on the Amalfi coast.
  7. It’s not just for blondes
    Balayage is a freehand highlighting technique that can be used on any base colour – not just your blondes! You can lowlight or highlight with this technique, but to begin with your skills aren’t going to be so strong and might make you feel uncomfortable. Practice. Practice. Practice! and you will soon be as comfortable as you are with foil.
  8. Work in a slow and controlled manner
    Keep your tension tight on the section your are about to balayage and work slowly. First apply the product to the mid-lengths of the section, then in a sweeping movement feather the product up to the root area always ensure an even and consistent application of product, only on the surface of the section! Do not saturate then move down along the entire strand just saturating the very last inch.
  9. Go easy at the roots
    The most common mistake made by people first learning this technique is placing too much product at the root and not having a consistent application. This can cause mottling and a more chunky effect. Again practice, practice, practice.
  10. Have fun with it!
    Ease yourself into using balayage in your busy day. Whatever you do, don’t try to convert a heavy foil until you feel really confident. Start by introducing a few bits to clients and build your confidence.

Bonus Tip: Put down the foil. Trust me, you won’t ever look back when you embrace the art of balayage.

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