There’s plenty of enviable hair color out there – including a bevy of rainbow looks – but we covet killer balayage highlights the most. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones; this color technique is all over Instagram. If we had to guess why it’s so beloved, we’d say it’s because the popular method makes strands look naturally sun-kissed instead of methodically dyed.
According to colorist Lauren E. Hack, cofounder of Lauren+Vanessa salon in New York, that’s because the look is painted on. “The word literally means to sweep [in French],” she explained. “You sweep the color onto the hair strand by strand.” The effect resembles the hair’s natural highlights. Hack told us that many of her clients bring their young daughters to the salon as examples of the soft highlights they want to mimic.
The technique is ideal for low-maintenance beauties, since the color is applied very carefully so as to avoid lines of demarcation. Thus, the dye grows out beautifully, making it easy to stretch (or even wholly disregard) the time between salon appointments.
Our favorite characteristic of balayage, however, is that it makes fine hair look thicker. “Our hair follicle is thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom,” said Hack. “With balayage you are able to create the illusion that the hair is more full at the bottom by painting thin to thick highlights from top to bottom, never seeing where the color begins and ends.”
To get the balayage look for yourself, meet with your colorist. “Photos are key!” exclaimed Hack. She suggests you bring images of celebrities who have your dream hair. Then, your expert can consult with you on whether or not your desired color will suit your skin tone, lifestyle, and regimen. Read on to see the technique on various blond, brunette, and red hair hues!