Photo of woman with balayage technique on hair in Portland, Oregon.


I’m sure you, like myself, have been inundated with images of pretty much every celeb or model sporting grown out or softly blended highlights. Typically, this look is achieved with a hair coloring technique that has exploded in recent years in the U.S. called Balayage or Hair Painting. While this technique has been popular in Europe for quite some time, only in the last 4-5 years has it become one of the most asked for services in salons all over the country. If you’re a natural brunette who is looking to achieve soft brown to medium blonde highlights or a natural blonde who is looking to amp up her blonde to the next level, balayage is a great idea!

Because of all the hype around this technique, the traditional foil has taken a backseat. But, i believe with the proper application, you can achieve a very natural/blended or dimensional look. When applying a hand painted technique the hair is typically left in the state in which it falls into gravity, making it challenging to place into a foil. While there are some exceptions to this, for example a corrective scenario, that is typically the case. To incapsulate the hair once it has been painted, it is typically wrapped in plastic, paper or nothing at all, those methods do not seal in heat as well as foil can.

Why do u need heat, you ask? Well, heat is the thing that helps color to process. Without heat, either from the scalp or with a heat source, hair color will not lift as efficiently, potentially not achieving your desired lightness. This is why i plead the case for the foil! With foil highlighting you have a better chance of reaching higher levels of lightness and more predictability when working in corrective situations ie. breaking thru previous all over color. Also, when trying to achieve “cool” toned looks for naturally dark hair, i stay loyal to the foil. To achieve a very natural, blended look with foils, the more the better! If you want a more dimensional look, less foils are typically more suitable.

What about combing the two techniques together to create a soft, yet bold look? Recently, a foiling procedure was introduced called “Babylights”. Babylights are VERY finely woven highlights meant to lighten just a few levels. when doing this you can also incorporate hair painting techniques between the foils, focusing on the mid-lower lengths. By combining these two procedures, you get a very blended soft root color working into something bolder and brighter thru the mid lengths and ends. i find that by combining these 2 methods, you can have the same hair that you’re seeing on the pages of magazines or on the red carpet.

In the quest to go lighter, by seeing a professional colorist, they should be able to assess what technique would be best to achieve you’re hair color dreams.

POSTED by Kelly Wright