Balayage highlighting (pronounced Bah-lay-ah-je) is far from a get-it-while-it’s-hot trend, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Emerging on the scene in the ‘70s, this freestyle process of painting or “sweeping” strands with color offers more personalized results. And here’s the kicker: it’s even healthier than traditional foils. Here’s why:
1. Fewer highlights
“By hand painting, I can create a more profound impact with fewer highlights; that’s why I believe it’s healthier for hair,” says L’Oréal Professionnel master colorist Eva Scrivo in her 2011 book “Eva Scrivo on Beauty.”
Although balayage can be performed on any hair color, Scrivo particularly likes this process for imparting light beige and golden tones to darker hair—especially if you’re looking to transition the tone (or go ombré). New color blends seamlessly without a harsh line of demarcation.
2. Safer root touch-ups
Cumbersome foils present a problem with root touch-ups. If the colorist doesn’t leave enough room between the roots to be touched-up and the previously colored locks, the bleach will expand under the heat created by the foils and seep into old color leading to breakage. It’s so common that professionals refer to such damage as a “chemical cut.”
Balayage is ideal for roots because the colorist can see exactly where the new hair growth begins and ends. “And because the formula is thicker than what’s required for foil highlights, the mixture is more likely to stay put,” Scrivo says.
3. Less heat
This technique also helps avert heat-related damage. “Aluminum foil conducts heat, almost baking the bleach into each strand and creating a very brassy effect,” Scrivo says in her Beauty Blog. Instead of processing hair underneath a heat lamp, this technique calls for a cotton ball to be placed underneath each painted section then all the hair is covered in cling wrap to allow the dye to develop.