Natalia is a Certified Balayage Artist through the L’Oreal Professional SOHO Academy NYC
Balayage has grown into one of the most popular hair coloring techniques in the world. It basically allows for a more natural, aesthetic lightening of the hair. At the same time, it lasts longer than traditional highlights while being far easier to maintain.
That said, balayage is not a simple process to master. In fact, doing it right requires extensive training, practice, and education. It’s worth noting that balayage is considered by many to be more of an “art form” than a simple “technique.” In this article, you’ll learn more about my history with balayage as well as more about the process itself
As a certified balayage artist, I have established myself as the premier balayage stylist in the Denver area. However, my journey to get here was not necessarily an easy one. After all, balayage requires a stylist to literally hand paint a client’s hair. The term derives from the French word that means “to sweep.” It must be applied by a stylist with a steady hand and a good eye for color.
When it came to receive my balayage training, I was delighted to be able to study at L’Oreal Professional SoHo Academy in New York City. While there, I studied under the tutelage of world-famous celebrity hair colorist Nancy Braun. Braun made a name for herself by virtually perfecting the art of creating highlights. In fact, she is considered to have mastered the technique for nearly all hair colors and types. If you’ve ever seen amazing highlights in a film or show, it’s likely that Nancy was behind it.
When I graduated from the course, I was eager to return back to Denver. Finally, I could put the professional techniques I’d learned to work.
Balayage vs. Highlights
Now, highlights have been around for decades, and no doubt, you’re all pretty familiar with what they look like. Balayage, on the other hand, is newer, yet has become extremely popular for a wide variety of reasons. In this section, I’ll attempt to explain how these two processes differ from one another.
With highlights, a stylist lightens specific sections of hair, dying them from the root to the tip. Unlike full dye jobs, the goal is to leave sections of natural hair in between the sections being colored. To do this, the coloring section are typically folded into foils to keep them separate. The idea is to create a multi-tonal look that covers the length of the hair, giving it a sense of dimension.
Balayage, on the other hand, is a far more subtle, natural way to achieve a multi-tonal look. Here, a stylist will hand paint select strands of hair in order to lighten them. Once that is complete, they can start blending the lightened strands with the natural color of the client’s hair. Unlike traditional highlights, balayage does not go to the root. This prevents clients from needing as much upkeep as their hair grows.
Ultimately, balayage results in a more natural look. It features darker roots, blonder ends, and a variety of contrasting tones in between. This gives your hair the look of being “kissed by the sun” rather than being lightened artificially.
Why is Balayage So Popular?
Balayage has really taken off in the last decade. How? The same way all new looks and trends do: celebrities. Everyone from Gisele to Jessica Alba to Chrissy Teigen has been spotted and photographed boasting beautiful balayage hair. These photos have driven demand for the technique, as well as a desire for more subtle, professional-looking hair color.
From a more general standpoint, the balayage trend is also driven by the versatility of the technique (which works on all lengths of hair). At the same time, it is sometimes nearly impossible to tell a balayage from a few weeks spent out in the sun. Of course, as I’ve mentioned, the effectiveness of the technique hinges on two things:
- The talent of the artist.
- The natural colors of the client’s hair.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that a balayage is quite easy to maintain. As it does not approach the roots, there’s no need to get constant touch ups. So, in the end, you have a trendy, celebrity-driven look that’s easy to maintain and works for all hair? Why wouldn’t it be popular?
Maintaining Balayage: How Long Does it Last?
Balayage is relatively new to the US scene. Of course, it’s understandable that many of you will have questions about maintaining the look and preserving the style. We all know that highlights need frequent touch-ups as our roots grow out, so it’s only natural to wonder what sort of maintenance goes into a balayage.
This is where you’re going to be particularly thrilled.
Despite all the artistry that goes into designing your balayage, the look is actually remarkably easy to maintain. You see, since the process doesn’t create a harsh regrowth line, it can easily last between four to six months!
Now, it’s worth mentioning that most of my clients schedule a few appointments in between this time for a toner or gloss application. This balances the color and keeps it from looking brassy as the natural hair color starts to show through. Still, the magic of the balayage is that – even when it does fade – it tends to fade in a unique and attractive way.
There are also some tips you’ll want to keep in mind when tending to your hair after a balayage treatment. These include:
- Don’t use particularly hot water when washing your hair. Scorching your follicles can weaken them and cause the natural hair color to show through more quickly.
- You’ll want to wash your hair less often as well, especially if you have dry hair. This means using dry shampoo whenever the opportunity presents itself.
- Make sure you use heat protectant like Kerastase Heat Protectant on your hair before using styling tools. This doesn’t just apply to a balayage either – you should always be doing this!
- Moisturizing shampoos and conditioners are essential to maintain the health of your hair in between treatments. I recommend to use Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner. As with any other highlights, a purple shampoo like Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo by L’Oreal Professionnel can help keep your color from becoming too “warm.”
- You’ll also want to make sure you’re using sulfate-free products (this is an always rule, not just a balayage rule). These can dry out your hair and cause it to weaken.
- You’ll also want to avoid chlorine and salt water exposure. So, if you’re planning a day at the beach or a pool, you’ll either want to keep your head above water or soak your hair with regular water first. This will keep it from absorbing too much salt / chlorine
Why Balayage is Expensive (and Why it’s Worth it)
One of the first things that people learn when they first hear about balayage is that it’s expensive. However, this is more of a half-truth than a bonafide fact. In this section, I’ll attempt to explain why.
First, the cost of the average balayage will vary depending on a wide variety of factors. This precludes most balayage artists from posting standardized prices on their websites. These factors include:
- The color and length of the client’s hair
- The amount of highlight needed
- The stylist you choose
- The location of the salon
That last point is very important and necessitates a bit more explanation. You see, balayage in New York will always cost more than the same treatment in Arizona. This is just simple economics. So, while I don’t recommend you travel out-of-state for a balayage, it’s important to keep differing costs-of-living in mind to avoid sticker shock.
Also, there’s no escaping the fact that learning balayage involves a lot of training and skill. Remember the education I mentioned at the beginning of this article? That wasn’t exactly free. On top of that, performing a balayage requires some special tools. Finally, you have to remember that the result lasts much longer than traditional highlights. This means it needs far fewer touch-ups. In fact, most women can enjoy a full year of the look with just a few appointments.
Ultimately, I’ve never heard of a stylist who charged a flat rate for a balayage coloring. Instead, we all prefer to consult with our clients ahead of time. This gives us a chance to look at their hair and evaluate what the job will entail. It also allows us to discuss what sort of look they’re going for so we can customize the balayage to their needs. If I absolutely had to put a price on it, I’d tell you to expect to pay about 20%-30% more than traditional highlights for a balayage.
Learn More Today
Since my time in New York City studying under the eminent Nancy Braun, I’ve had quite a bit of success transforming hair colors in Denver. As a certified balayage artist, I’ve helped hundreds of clients achieve and maintain the perfect look. In fact, you can see some of my happiest clients on my Instagram page @balayagehaircolor
If you want to learn more, I’m always on hand to consult with clients considering a balayage coloring. To speak with me, simply call 720-917-5165 to set up your appointment.
Balayage Hair Salon in Denver
300 Josephine St #110
Denver CO 80206