Why Everyone Has Gone Ga-Ga for Balayage Hair Color

How to Tell If You are a Great Candidate for This Trend

Woman having her hair dyed
Balayage is French for "hair painting". Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Forget foils. One of the hottest hair trends of the moment is balayage, which will leave your hair with perfect sun-kissed highlights. 

Balayage is a French word that refers to the process of sweeping, or painting, color onto hair. This method of highlighting gives you more natural results and requires less maintenance than traditional foils.

Difference Between Foils and Balayage

The main difference between the two techniques is that the head is round and the foils are square.

A square foil commits you to work within that square, whereas balayage allows you to move around freely carefully looking at the colors around the strand and working within the existing colors.

So rather than taking a section of hair in a square foil (keeping in mind that the head is round) we carefully take pieces of hair from the head. It can be a few strands, or a more chunky look. Some strands of color will be thick, some thin. It's a wonderful technique because it allows the colorist total control.

With great control, we gently apply our lightener on from roots to ends or roots. If it's just a color touch-up, we can apply the product to the roots only.

Which Process is Faster?

speed really depends on the amount of hair and the desired effect. You can take a brunette and paint a few pieces of hair and change her life in 10 minutes or paint a blond and take one hour painting. Either way, it is going to take some time in the hairstylist’s chair.


When is Balayage a Better Choice?

Balayage is a great option:

  1. This style works when it's a first time highlight client who is specifically asking for very subtle natural highlights on any shade hair.
  2. If the client (male or female) has very short hair. Foils in this case may not be the answer; balayage will give you the most natural finish.
  1. Balayage is a great option for those who don't want to commit to coloring appointments every 4-6 weeks.
  2. Recently I met a friend of a friend for the first time and after saying hello she promptly asked "What would you do with my hair?" Her hair color was pretty, but because of the dark roots or dark shadow like a halo around the hair line I quickly responded, "Well, I am guessing you haven't had your color done for a month or so. To my surprise, it had been done 1 week before. Her frustration is her stylist never being able to get to the fine hairs at the hair line by foiling.

Can Balayage Work on Dark Hair?

Hair that is just one shade of color can look like a wig. No one wants that. Balayage can add dimension to even the darkest of hair colors.

I use balayage for coloring grays because I can cover the few gray strands rather than having to color the entire head.

Does Balayage Work on Curly Hair?

Balayage works very well on curly hair. The look is very natural and enhances your ringlets.

How Expensive is Balayage?

The cost of balayage treatment is dependent on your hair color, salon and your region. In some areas, balayage is cheaper than foils, but in big cities and big salons, the process can cost hundreds.

More on hair color:

  • Should You Highlight or Get Single Process Color? 
  • Hair Color: What are Lowlights?
  • The Year's Hottest Hair Color Trends
  • At-Home Hair Color: Biggest Mistakes Women Make
  • Help! I'm Getting a Few Grey Hairs