What is Balayage, and Should I Get One?

What is balayage?

By definition, balayage is a freehand technique where the colour is applied by hand rather than using the traditional foiling or cap highlighting techniques.

This technique has been around for decades— it was first made popular in the 1970’s. The term “balayage” simply means “to sweep” in French (and that, in a nutshell, is exactly what a freehand balayage technique is). The stylist “sweeps” the lightener or hair color with delicate movements across the hair to create a more natural, blended look. 


How Does a Stylist Apply Balayage?

The lightener or hair color is applied in larger sections just to the surface of the hair. After the application process, the hair will sit in either Saran Wrap or open with cotton to prevent the lightner from transfering to the other non-colored pieces. The Seran Wrap and the cotton are used to prevent the colored hair from touching non colored pieces to avoid transfer, which would cause a patchy end-result. This balayage process creates a natural, sun-kissed and organic effect for the client. 


Is Balayage the Right Style for Everyone?

Because this technique is subtle, it’s not for everyone, especially clients who are looking for a more dramatic look. Due to the light-handedness and minimal saturation of the product, the end-results may seem minimal. There are several other techniques that can be used to mimic a balayage and create a very similar end result (which is blended, purposeful color with subtle grow-out). That also  means less time in the salon and longer time between appointments. Who doesn’t want that?!


What are Balayage Alternatives?

Foil-iage and teasy-lights are two of the techniques most commonly used to mimic the look of an open-air balayage. 


What is a Foil-iage? 

Foil-iage is essentially a balayage that has more product and heavier saturation on the hair. Each section is placed in a foil. The foil is essentially an insulator and traps the heat from the chemicals reacting and the body temperature of the client to speed up the lightning process. 


What are Teasy-Lights?

Teasy-Lights are also an amazing technique used to create that lighter, blended balayage look. Each piece of hair that will be lightened is weaved and then teased at the top to create softness and a rooted look. 


How Do I Know Which Technique Is Right For Me?

The best way to decide which technique to use is by consulting your stylist. Stylists have seen and done it all, and their expertise is invaluable! Clients with darker hair or previously colored hair would benefit from the foil– iage or teasy– light techniques (unless they’re willing to live with a warmer end-result that the typical, free-hand painted balayage will give them). 


Have questions?




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MB Studio
1344 University Ave
Rochester, NY 14607