Balayage - The Hair Color Technique Used by the Stars

As far back as the 1970s, in the midst of the flower child movement and thigh-high boots, you would find a hair coloring technique called balayage (French for “sweep” and pronounced balāˈyäZH). Interestingly, the process may have been first developed by French stylists decades ago but it continues to gain more and more popularity today. It is an amazing technique that will make your hair as unique as your personality. Even if you have not heard of it before, balayage can be seen on many trend-setting celebrities as they stroll down the red carpet. Its popularity is fast eclipsing the ombré hair trend, a dramatic, two-toned hair color effect that is typically darker at the top and lighter on the bottom.

Instead of using the foils and caps, Balayage is a freehand technique that works on all lengths of hair, from pixie cuts or waist-length hair. The ultimate objective is to leave you with the look of “sun-kissed” hair. It is a subtle highlighting technique that doesn’t make a drastic change to your hair color. It will work on any color, length or texture hair. That is the beauty of the process. Since it is a freehand technique, each look will be different and is designed around the client’s unique hair and face. Balayage is as low maintenance as you can get with hair color. Since you are not coloring the entire length of the hair, it will remain very natural looking as it grows out. Balayage is a good first step for someone who has not colored before because it is subtle and will not make a drastic change to your natural color.

The process consists of lightening your natural hair color. Keep in mind that if you have dark hair, and you are wanting to go light with the highlights, it may take multiple sessions to get the desired look. This is really up to you and what you want your hair to look like.

How Is It Done?

Using a freehand technique rather than the typical foils and caps, the stylist applies the “sweeping color” free hand throughout your hair. Since it is freehand, the stylist has the freedom to apply the highlights where they want and it gives a more natural look than foils which give a more uniform look. With balayage, the stylist can add color to specific areas that will enhance your natural features.


Even though blonde is the typical highlighting color used with balayage, you can experiment with other colors. There is actually a reverse balayage technique that has the light hair on top and the darker hair intermixed throughout from the mid-length to the ends. There are a lot of trends going around for balayage coloring. Some of the most popular are “pearly balayage” which starts with a light brown base with light pinkish-purple ends which gives the highlights a luminescent look light a pearl. “Rose quartz balayage” is extremely popular as it provides a real pop of color. Another popular color is “peach balayage” which is a great summertime look. “Blue balayage is a bit more drastic but the shades of blue are endless and have an amazing look. Here are some of the newer trends and the celebrities that wear them that you can find in leading salons across the county.

The New Yorker - Done in just 15 mins at the backwash, these are super quick highlights that fit easily into your lunch hour. They touch the root and look effortless for the perfect pick-me-up. As seen on Poppy Delevingne.

The Rio - Think contouring for the hair, ask for pieces to frame the face, around the parting and touching the root, this takes just about 30 mins. As seen on Ana Beatriz Barros.

The Londoner - Nothing touches the root - it's a creative Balayage for a cool, more lived-in look and takes about 30 minutes. As seen on Vanessa Kirby.

The LA - For blondes who want to be blonder, add super blonde pieces in a combination of root touch around the face, and more lived in everywhere else. Use a 'base break' where the natural base is lifted to soften the natural color and make it appear much blonder. As seen on Michelle Williams.

The California - As seen on Vanessa Kirby for her new role in Mission Impossible. It's the perfect summer blonde - a much heavier incarnation of classic Balayage with a slightly lived-in root and much more of the hair is colored. It can be tailored to any skin tone - anywhere from pale icier blondes, to golden shades can be used. It's a gorgeous low-maintenance colour to take you through the entire summer as it'll start out heavy and then grow out into a lived-in finish so the upkeep is completely dependent on the wearer.

Get Ready and Go!

Make an appointment with `Ohana Salon. It is essential that you discuss it with your stylist. Balayage is an art requires skill to apply correctly so trained stylists such as those at Ohana are always your best option. There are so many choices, you should seek guidance on what will look best with your natural hair color, length, style, face shape, and features, etc. There are many styles out there that range from warm to cool.

If you have a picture(s) of a style you like, share that with your stylist to see if it will work for you.


Balayage highlights grow out very naturally, so there is no regrowth line, meaning no regular trips to the salon for touchups. Use good quality products such as the Aveda products available at Ohana Salon. These are specially formulated to be gentle, color-friendly, and repairing with shine.

If you decide to take the Balayage “plunge” you will be in store for a stunning new look! Visit Ohana Salon to find out more about the technique.

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