When it comes to hair colour highlighting and balayage techniques and trends, sometimes the differences between them are so nuanced that it’s hard to keep them straight. Never fear. We’re here…with a primer that breaks down the hottest highlighting trends once and for all. Balayage, sombré, lowlights, and more…read on to learn what sets all these looks apart.
WHAT IS BALAYAGE?
Pronounced BAH-LEE-AHGE, balayage is actually a French word meaning ‘sweeping,’ as in to sweep on a hair lightener to create highlights. Balayage is the technique of free-hand painting highlights onto the hair, creating a soft and natural gradation of lightness towards the ends. The result is the look of summers spent at the beach, or the fresh, unintentionally perfect highlights on a child. This natural-looking highlighting technique is not just for blondes, but is actually used on all shades of hair to add soft, sun-kissed dimension.
Of course, there are variations in application preferences: some colourists don’t separate the hair, while others separate the hair with cotton pieces, and others prefer using foil as a divider. There are different application nuances that produce slightly varied results, but the main reason balayage has become so popular is that it allows colourists to hand select the pieces of hair they want to highlight. Due to the customised, natural-looking placement, balayage also allows for a softer grow out.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGHLIGHTS AND BALAYAGE?
Highlights is a general term that simply refers to hair that is lighter than the base colour. Contrary to popular belief, highlights are not just for blondes, but can refer to lightening strands of any shade of hair. Highlights are traditionally applied using a method called “foiling,” in which sheets of foil are used to separate strands of hair that have been covered with a colour or lightener before wrapping them in the foil to process. The foil keeps the lightener from getting on the surrounding hair, and also traps heat, allowing the lightener to lift more effectively. Foil highlights are generally placed close to the scalp, lightening the hair from the roots to the ends for an all-over highlighted look.
Balayage is a free-hand technique of applying highlights, and does not usually use foil to separate the hair. Balayage creates soft and natural gradation of lightness along the hair strand—usually slightly deeper closer to the scalp and lighter towards the ends. Typically, balayage starts away from the roots and is focused towards the mid-shafts and ends of hair.
…Give yourself a new look, feel younger and better. Consult with our master stylist, for your best balayage look