Go back to the basics with the ultra-classic balayage. Two experts share their top tips on this timeless technique.
The Three Pillars of a Successful Balayage
According to Candy Shaw, a balayage expert based in Atlanta, who launched the Sunlights Balayage kit in 2014, the three pillars of successful balayage are: consistency, brush stroke and saturation.
Most stylists want to paint hair the same way they paint foils, but that will result in unwanted demarcation lines and a less-than-seamless effect. “To obtain perfect results, you must master the artist’s brush stroke. The proper brush stroke has a fluid motion using the side of the brush and moves smoothly down the hair shaft.” The secret? Practice, practice and more practice!
Carter also says that you should study the patterns that the sun creates on children’s hair to get a good idea of what great balayage should look like. An intuitive approach, coupled with great technique, will yield amazing results that your client will come back for.
Balayage Techniques to Make Blondes Pop
Think of balayage as your go-to technique for adding lowlights, which make blondes pop. Shaw suggests that one way to incorporate lowlights is to first identify peaks and valleys: “I can take a head of hair and paint 25 dark pieces to my 15 light pieces, which can actually make my guest look lighter. I could never achieve that with foiling because foils cause you to pull through the hair and place the darker, lowlights on both sides of the hair shaft.”
Also, keep in mind that one of the greatest benefits of balayage is that the technique offers a blended look. Your clients will always have a seamless look, even as the hair begins to grow out, instead of the solid line of a foil, so you can create many sun-kissed strands to achieve beautiful multi-toned blondes.
Avoiding Balayage Mistakes
Despite your best training and most advanced products, “You can only lift natural hair three to four levels with balayage,” cautions Carter. “Don’t overpromise a client who is in love with an Instagram snap you know took 12 hours to achieve when she only has an hour and a $100 budget.”
From a technical standpoint, Shaw advises perfecting the proper brush stroke with the right amount of product on your brush: “Due to the uncovered nature of hand painting, saturation is the key to lift. Without the use of a paddle and a proper brush stroke to ensure saturation, you won’t get good results. The saturation of the hair on both sides towards the ends is the key to amazing results with balayage.”
Balayage Pro Tips
“Carefully study the patterns that the sun creates on children’s hair.”– Susan Carter, L’Oréal Professional portfolio artist
“Encourage clients to come in once a season. Even if there is no root retouching to balayage, hair needs to be repainted to make sure it grows out nicely.” – Susan Carter
“Consistencey of the lightener should be specifically for balayage. Otherwise, you’ll see “pop” marks in your sections and your effort won’t achieve the proper coverage.” – Candy Shaw
“Schedule appointments with enough time between each. In some cases, you need to tell the client that it will take two to three appointments to achieve the desired look.” – Susan Carter
FUN FACT: Balayage comes from the French word “balai,” which means “broom” because, essentially, you are sweeping colour onto the hair.