Hair Color Balayage Hero
Hair Color

What Is Balayage and Why Is It So Popular?

Find out more about the hair dye technique that changed the world of hair color with natural, sun-kissed results. How to achieve/DIY balayage at home. And how to make yours last longer.

Created in the 1970s by French colorists, balayage is the hair dyeing technique that changed everything. No more sitting for hours in foil. No more stripiness. Natural sun-kissed glow for any hair. This natural, low-maintenance technique remains hugely popular and is constantly being updated and reinterpreted. Let’s take a close look at how it works, how to achieve/DIY balayage at home and how to make yours last longer.

What Exactly Is Balayage?

In French, “balayage” means “to sweep”. Highlights are hand-painted or “swept” on the surface of random sections of hair. The dye or lightener is painted on with a brush, starting midshaft and getting denser towards the end of the hair. As there is no cap or guide, the effect is natural sun-kissed glow that is much less strictly patterned than regular highlights.

What Is the Difference Between Highlights and Balayage?

Rather than traditional foil or caps, balayage is a freehand technique. With foils, you get a uniform finish, while balayage offers more natural results. The colorist (or you) can apply the color in specific areas to brighten your features. Apply inches down from the roots, so they seem more lived-in.

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Are Balayage and Ombre the Same?

Ombre hair color gradually transitions from a dark color at the roots to a lighter color at the ends with a gradient effect. On the other hand, balayage highlights are placed throughout your hair in specific areas. You get a piecy, dimensional result rather more uniform color.

Can You Create Balayage Highlights at Home?

With a DIY home kit, achieve sun-kissed locks without all the hassle and expense of heading to the salon. For example, our Preference Balayage Kit creates luminous highlights and comes with professionally inspired tools and a new root blending mask for a natural-looking smokey root effect.

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Does Balayage Work on Dark Hair?

The darker your starting color and the lighter you want your balayage highlights, the more work it takes to achieve the desired result. Blonde balayage is most common, but you could also opt for a darker shade like caramel or auburn. This will do less damage to your hair and give you a more natural look. If you’re looking for platinum blonde balayage, you’ll probably need to bleach first – even if you already have light hair.

Not sure what color shade to choose?

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How Long Do Balayage Highlights Last?

The great thing about balayage highlights is that they’re low maintenance. They grow out naturally and you won’t get a harsh regrowth line or need very regular touch-ups. Exactly how long your hair color stays fresh depends on how you care for it – as well your hair color and length. Not sure which color to choose? Use semi-permanent color that washes out.

Tips to make yours last longer

  • Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner, like Elseve Color Protect Shampoo and Conditioner, to keep the color fresh and reinforce hair bonds weakened by bleaching and heat styling
  • Avoid washing your hair in hot water as this can strip away the essential oils, leaving your hair feeling dry and looking dull, as well as causing premature color fading.
  • Invest in at-home hair gloss, that’s easy to use and only takes about 15 minutes to recharge your color and deep condition your hair.

Beyond Classic Balayage

3D or 4D Balayage: this is all about adding multi-tonal dimension, a little like contouring for your hair. Rather than dyeing your hair with a single lighter color, use two or three shades (one is always darker).

Smoky Gold Balayage: this is one of the most luxurious takes on balayage hair. It picks up on ash and espresso tones with a subtle gold lift at the face frame and ends. The result is soft and blended.

Reverse balayage: rather lightening hair, this technique involves adding lowlights and darker strands to reintroduce depth to blond hair.

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Find your hair color shade

Not sure where to start? Use Virtual Hair Color Try-On to experiment with the latest hair colors and makeup trends. Wear multiple products at once to see the effect on your face and hair.

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