My recent post on straighteners inspired many questions on balayage. I thought I had already covered the subject from every angle, but it appears I haven’t. So I’ll try to eliminate the lingering confusion between highlights, ombré and balayage.
Highlights, then and now
The highlights of the 60s and 70s were achieved by pulling the hair through a rubber cap with a hook, similar to what your grandmother used to darn your socks. (The young people among you will really wonder what I’m talking about…). The resulting effect made it look like your hair had been planted in your head in tufts like a doll. Let’s forget about this barbaric, often painful technique that really didn’t have the natural-looking results that people want these days.
Then paper highlights appeared, which was closer to a natural look, but the technique was pushed to the extreme in the 80s and 90s with bands of colour that were not always very aesthetic, but in any case very showy. It’s still used today, especially among people of a certain age, but it’s not very popular with the younger generation.
Understanding the techniques
It’s important to be specific here. There isn’t just ONE balayage technique; there are SEVERAL techniques.
The oft-neglected comb balayage
Created for use on short hair, comb balayage involves choosing a pattern that follows the direction in which the hair is to be styled, and directly applying the product with a comb. It’s perfect for all kinds of looks, from a very natural sun-kissed effect to much more intense flash tips.
Is ombré still in? That depends.
Ombré, which was derived from the tie and dye technique, consists of lightening the ends of the hair while keeping the roots natural. When the dark-light transition is done well, it creates a soft and natural effect even with very different tones. But watch out! If the technique is poorly executed, you could end up with transition stripes, which look like you let your hair grow for six months after a failed dye job.
Californian balayage: look like you’ve been there without leaving home
With a Californian balayage, people will think you just came back from three months on the beach. The colour is very delicate on the roots, and more and more accentuated going towards the tips for a perfectly natural effect. The balayage depends on the expertise of your colourist. It requires experience, know-how and creativity to master this technique perfectly.