Balayage – Everything You Need To Know…


It’s the colouring technique loved by the A-listers. Here, we go back to Balayage basics with international hair colourist (and Balayage boss) Jack Howard

Balayage isn't going anywhere anytime soon. While the technique has been around for some time and hit peak popularity about three years ago (when the likes of SJP and Jessica Biel started to show how hairdressers could use the painting technique to sweep colour onto hair for a natural, soft finish), it remains a colour mainstay, with more people than ever opting for balayaged portions of hair.

Here's everything you need to know before you head into the hairdresser for yours... 

What is 'Balayage'?

'Balayage is a French word meaning to sweep or to paint,' says Jack Howard. 'It allows for a sun-kissed natural-looking hair colour, similar to what nature gives us as children. There are softer, less noticeable regrowth lines - the principal idea being less is more when creating soft, natural looks.'

Nicola Clarke adds: 'This is just one of the most natural ways to do hair - it is such a good way to make it look beachy.'

How does it differ from other colouring techniques? 

Well in part, it's speedier and means less maintenance thanks to the colour not sitting quite on the root in the same way. Jack explains: 'because it's hand-painted, your colourist can choose the placement to best complement your haircut, skin tone, and features so it's totally bespoke.'

So no foils at all?

Nope. None. 'That perfectly-placed highlights look is dying out - it's such an '80s look and not something the modern woman wants. But make no mistake - classic balayage is a highlighting technique - but that neat row of light pieces doesn't have a place anymore,' says Jack.

Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock

Is balayage just for blondes?

'Not at all,' says Nicola. 'I'd use it on any colour hair - I'd just be slightly cautious on finer hair as the majority of balayage requires bleach, which means hair is likely to become a bit more brittle.'

Can I do it on myself?

'If you run around in the sun, you’ll naturally balayage your hair but I would never advise trying to actually do this at home. We hand paint the hair in sections which you just can’t do yourself,' says Jack.

Is balayage expensive? 

Prices tend to start from £50 but vary greatly from salon to salon. Also, as the treatment is completely bespoke to you, only your stylist can tell you how much you will need depending on the thickness of your hair and the effect you’re after. 

Gisele Wavy Hair

So where should I go for it?

Our top places to hit up for balayage are:

1. Jack Howard at Paul Edmonds. Jack is credited with bringing balayage to the UK, and whips a buttery blonde balayaged section into hair like no other.

2. Nicola Clarke at John Frieda. Nicola looks after some of the most famous blonde A-listers from Kate Moss and Cate Blanchett to Margot Robbie and Kate Winslet, so she's the woman to see if you're a blonde addict.

3. Daniel Hersheson. If you love your hair to look bang up to date, this is the place for you. Also, get a trim while you're at it - slightly blunt ends look great with balayaged portions.

4. Jo Hansford. This is one of London's best salons. Especially good if you need colour correction or a complete change. Jo is an expert in colour and you'll leave inspired and transformed. 



[MUSIC] Hi, my name is Jack Howard. I'm at Paul Edmond's in London in Knightsbridge. I'm L'Oreal Professional's color spokesperson for the UK and also an international ambassador. I'm widely credited with bringing Balayage to the UK. And I'm here today to take you through some tips and show you some looks. [MUSIC] Balayage is a highlighting technique It's just that it's free-hand hair color. If you're starting to get white hairs or non-pigmented hairs, as I like to call it, you might need to do a root tint. So you would do an all-over color, and then you would do your balayage. But if you're looking at A-listers and women that look really expensive and glossy, they will have had balayage on their gray hair. It's magnificent for any age group. [MUSIC] What we're seeing at the moment with [UNKNOWN] is that we're seeing it definitely lighter. We are seeing things move away from more golden into cooler tones. People are definitely You're looking for that icier blond look at the moment which is really nice and really hot. [MUSIC] The thing with Balayage is because the sectioning is slightly different, and there's a feathering action. So it's very soft at the root, and so it's really forgiving, and it's grow out. Whereas a full highlight is very Heavy at the roots. And then as the hair gets thinner through the ends, it sort of disappears in there. And that's why people are always trying to have low lights put in their hair to break it up because it becomes really solid. [MUSIC] Balayage is for everybody, for Afro hair, for dog hair, for light hair, for red hair. It just depends on the look that you want. So somebody with very dark hair, you're not necessarily gonna give them classic bailliage right to the root because that's going to look a bit strippy so you're going to give them something more like creative bailliage. So it's really about the technician such as myself, guiding the client towards the right look. Always remember that if you've had a chemical service on your hair, or actually if you haven't, to be honest, you need to use a heat protector when you're styling. But you don't wanna be using those straightening irons every day of the week, and that you don't want to have your hair dryer on super hot. They all add to the damage. Of the hair. And the other quick tip in that is that quite often people start using lots of protein base when they thought their hair was damaged. If you over proteinize the hair it can break, so what I recommend is a month on protein, a month on moisture. Or if the brand allows it, like Shu Uemura, I do a month on. I do shampoo which is moisturizing and the mascara is repairing and then swap it around the next top. [MUSIC]
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