What is balayage?
It's hard to pinpoint when and where balayage first popped up (Vogue points to France in the 1970s) and how exactly it started to become so popular again, but no matter where it came from, this artist derivation from traditional foiled highlights has been creating a buzz with women who color their hair.
Balayage speaks to the way the hair color is applied to the hair — instead of using foils and a stiff brush to apply the color in a rigid pattern that goes all the way up to the roots and scalp, balayage uses a painting technique with a softer brush or paddle to apply the color in sweeping motions. Not only does this allow for a more natural look, but it also allows your stylist to be more creative and intentional with the placement of the color, as they are not tied down by where the next foil needs to be placed.
Bonus points for balayage? The grow-out is far more relaxed — no more rushing into the salon exactly six weeks later to make sure you aren't stuck with a line of dark hair at your hairline. In fact, you'll want to make sure you book your next appointment before you leave the salon because with such a natural grow-out, you might forget that you need to go in!
The only downside to balayage, that we can see, is that it can be more expensive than a traditional highlight. Also, make sure your stylist has been trained in the technique before you jump into having your hair balayaged.
Q&A with a stylist
We quizzed professional stylist Stephanie Popovici from Nola Salon in Seattle about this hair coloring technique and here's what she had to say:
Q: Why is balayage becoming so popular?
A: "It's just an easy way for women to manage their highlights now and gives a much better all over color. Nobody wants that harsh, super highlighted hair anymore. Women are keeping it more natural and balayage is a good way to color your hair, without looking like you do."
Q: Is balayage just for blondes?
A: "No way! I've been doing a lot of balayage for women with darker hair who want to add some brightness into their color, but don't want to have streaky, foiled highlights or aren't ready to do allover color. Balayage is also a great way to get an ombre effect in your hair, from darker on top to lighter on bottom."
Q: Who is a good candidate for trying balayage?
A: "Anyone's hair is pretty balayage-friendly — short, long, dark, light, fine, thick, straight or curly — although it creates different results on different hair styles, just as traditional highlighting does. The best hair for balayage is hair with some texture."
The verdict from moms
Still not convinced? Here's what a few moms are saying about balayage:
"I was a hair color virgin," shares Mia, a new mom. "My hair was looking so dull after I had my daughter, but I didn't want to get stuck having to color it every six weeks, so my stylist did balayage instead of highlights. I love it and it got me over the hump of having bad hair post-pregnancy!"
A mom of three, Liesl, comments that she was a highlighted blonde for decades, but in a search for something fresher, she gave balayage a try. "I was tired of feeling like my hair was from 1999 and balayage brought me into this decade. It's far less severe than the foil highlights I've had done for years and love that I can pull my hair up in a ponytail without having that highlighted line across my hairline."
"I was on the hunt for something new for my hair," confesses a mom of two, who didn't want to reveal her name because her husband has no idea that she colors her hair. "I was turning 40 and went in to get my hair ombred (in an attempt to feel young?), but my stylist knew better. She did balayage instead, with some light chunks of color into the bottom and underside of my dark hair. I felt 35 again!"