It started as a French coloring technique a very long time ago and now balayage (or baliage) is pretty omnipresent (and incredibly popular) in U.S. salons. The “freeform” hair painting gets points for not only the amazing dimension and multi-tonal results it creates, but also for the low-maintenance level needed to rock the look long after you’ve left the salon.
While models and celebrities may have lead the way of the trend, Kate Reid, director of COLOR.ME by KEVIN.MURPHY says it really is the perfect example of how a high-fashion movement can be implemented into the mainstream. “As fashion evolved and sun-kissed hair became fashionable, clients want to look effortlessly chic and this is a low maintenance, yet high-fashion look. Because of this, balayage has established a solid place in every salon globally.”
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What’s more, Reid says, is that it’s—wait for it—a cost-efficient way to keep up with your color. “What I love about this look the most is that it’s an affordable way of high-impact color because it grows out seamlessly (because it’s not super close to the roots), thus having to make less trips to the salon. Every client needs to understand how often to come back for their do, how to keep their color fresh and how to achieve beautiful hair without spending the day at the salon."
Of course, your color is only as good as the person who is doing it, and Reid recommends first asking your stylist if he or she is comfortable with the technique and request to see some of their previous work. “Images are the best tool of communication with your hair colorist. You can show them and also explain what you love about the look, what you would like to achieve with your specific hair, what you like about the tones and your desired end result.” And don’t be shy to take a few different inspiration images with you. “Give your stylist options so he/she can discuss with you which inspiration looks best on you based on your skin tone, hair texture, cut, style, etc.”
One New York color duo, Bianca Cox and Chi Tang, co-owners of Bianchi Salon in the East Village, also agree that balayage is here to stay. Their salon specializes in it (they even offer a five-hour balayage treatment) and they say they truly view it as an art form because it’s so focused on color that can be customized, yet it's an option that is still accessible.
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“We use different tools during the painting process. Small and large hair brushes, large paintbrushes and roller blending, similar to brush strokes or smudging used in art. We use three to six different toners in their hair, as opposed to one or two. We are literally creating art in their hair and customizing it to fit their natural color and features. The effects of all the techniques and tools bring on different results.”
The best part? “Because clients are getting hand-painted color that transitions between multiple tones, in some cases, they can't even tell where the color is beginning from, making it timeless as it grows out.”