Classic Balayage pieces should be very close and soft at the root leading to a thicker highlight at the ends of the hair. Balayage is applied on the surface of the section and not saturated through the section until the very tips, otherwise you would have a streak of colour that isn’t very soft at all. It can also be called a freehand technique because no foil or meche is used to create the highlights, instead we use professional cling film to separate the layers which is much softer. Because it’s handpainted, your colourist can choose the placements to best complement your haircut, skin and features so it looks really natural rather than actually coloured. There’s no stripy look, it emulates what you would get naturally.
Balayage has evolved as people have experimented with it, and it now falls into different categories – creative, classic, micro, Californian, and this allows colourists to work in many different ways which gives them more creativity. New York Lights, the face framing technique is the most important for any age; it’s natural, beautiful and gives an instant lift. 6 pieces can make all the difference, it doesn’t have to be a headful of balayage to make an impact.
Classic Balayage is saturated at the ends and product is loaded in the mid-lengths, feathered up to the root and spread down over the surface of the section for a seamless finish.
Creative Balayage is saturated at the ends and product is loaded in the mid-lengths. The difference here is that whilst we spread the product down to the ends, we only feather slightly for a more subtle finish.
Micro Balayage is achieved by saturating the ends, loading product just above this and feathering up. California is a much heavier incarnation of this application; still very soft at the root but much more coverage.
And my newest balayage is The California – I’ve done this on Vanessa Kirby for her new role in Mission Impossible (she’s also winner of Glamour WOTY UK TV actress and star of The Crown and A Streetcar Named Desire). It’s the perfect seasonal blonde – a much heavier incarnation of classic balayage with a slightly lived-in root and much more of the hair is coloured. It can be tailored to any skin tone as anywhere from pale icier blondes to golden shades can be used, and I’m also incorporating part of this technique in the new Platinude trend from L’Oreal Professionnel (the softer champagne version of platinum). It’s a gorgeous low-maintenance colour to take you through the entire summer as it’ll start out heavy and then grow out into a lived-in finish so the upkeep is completely dependent on the wearer.
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