Balayage (pronounced BAH-LEE-AHGE) is the french word meaning ‘to sweep’. It describes the sweeping motion by which lightener is applied to sections of hair, creating natural, sun kissed effects. Balayage is a free hand, hair-painting technique that has been described as replicating the natural highlights of a child or that lived in look of summer days spent at the beach.
Unlike traditional highlight, foils are not used to separate the hair. With foil highlighting, the highlights begin close to the scalp, with consistent lightness from roots to ends, resulting in a more overall highlighted effect. Whereas, balayage creates a more natural gradation of lightness, having more depth at the roots, with increasing lightness towards the end. This natural looking placement results in a softer grow out, allowing clients longer time between salon visits. Balayage is not limited to blondes. Any shade of hair color can benefit from this technique.
Balayage is an application technique, rather than a particular result, and can be used to create a variety of looks. The most popular being the Ombre’ and the Sombre’. Ombre' is a more dramatic effect, with a starker contrast from roots to ends. Sombre’ is a softer version, with a more gradual, seamless transition from dark to light. This free hand, highlighting technique gives creative license to colorists, allowing them to create an individual, customized look for each client.