What is a Balayage?

Balayage is a color application technique that is usually hand painted without using foils. The Balayage result is better blended color at the roots AND heavier on the ends. This technique is meant to be more blended so the outgrowth is softer, more natural looking and lower maintenance for the client.

Balayage is usually done on mid-length to long hair. A much larger amount of product is required on the initial application and usually a toner is needed for proper tones in the end result. A toner is an overlay of gentle, usually deposit only color that will counteract warm (gold and red) tones which are the hardest to remove from hair, or a toner can be used as an overlay to add desired pigments/tones. Rather than lighten the hair farther than needed, which is what seriously damages hair, it’s best to use a toner for the final touch, this type of color also adds shine and conditions.

With hair color so very popular these days and salons using professional grade products, which have become quite expensive, a salons hair color costs are one of the top expenses just behind rent/mortgage and  payroll, payroll for salons average 60% of revenue in the U.S. when all taxes are said and done. This along with the time, creativity, education required and experience needed for a professional Balayage, these services are more expensive. Add thick hair to the equation and more of all those things are needed. As much as hair designers LOVE what they do, they really do deserve to make a respectable living, too. A dedicated, passionate professional hair designer is worth the investment! You wear your hair everyday, unlike an outfit, right?

Different types of “Balayage”

Foilayage – This is a form of Balayage, with the main difference being that the stylist is using foils in-between or around the painted pieces. This technique is used to create more lift/lightening in the hair. Especially when the hair is darker. If a normal Balayage technique is used, especially on darker hair, it’s more than likely to lift/lighten to only the red or gold stage. In that situation, the client may have to keep up with toning in between appointments.  This makes the Balayage higher maintenance. Using the Foiliayage technique helps get darker hair to lift to a lighter level and through the gold and red stages because the foil conducts heat and keeps the painted hair separated from the hair that is not being colored. Keeping the painted hair seperate from the hair not being colored also allows your designer to use higher strength lighteners without the concern of bleeding onto the other hair. And, heavier saturation can be used which helps with more thorough and even processing.

Teasylights – Another Balayage technique that first teases the hair and then hand paints the hair for a more blended look. By teasing/backcombing the hair, much of the hair is pushed back toward the scalp and won’t get colored. This is a very blended effect depending on how much “teasing” is done, and of course, how well the actual application is executed. This can also be merged with a foilayage, (foils).

Balayage is Not an Ombré – Ombré usually leaves the roots alone and starts lightening the hair mid-shaft and gets heavier on the ends.

Balayage is Not the same as Highlights – Highlights are more uniform and precise, while having an even finish through the whole hair strand, scalp to ends.

Why is Balayage such a big trend?

Balayage is very versatile for the clients desires and goals. It is also more natural looking while it grows out, unlike highlights that usually have a line of demarcation as they grow out. Because of it not having harsh lines you can go a longer period of time in between appointments.

Why does balayage take more time?

It is a freehand technique that is customizable to each clients hair rather than regular foiling. However, it does take a lot more thought and creativity from the stylist. Because of this, many stylist invest time and money in classes to learn this complex color application in order to offer it to their clients. It is a long appointment, ranging from three to five hours depending on the length and density of the clients hair. Because Balayage is so time consuming and exact application time is unpredictable, many stylists cannot tend to other clients during the processing time,

it takes focusing on one client straight through the entire appointment..


In addition to being a low maintenance hair color to wear and visits are farther apart, the hair stylist usually has to start from scratch depending on how often the client comes in for touch ups. With this in mind, the client is paying a little bit more for the convenience of not having to come in as often.

All in all, Balayage is a lavish investment for stunning, low maintenance hair.


SoZo HAIR Salon Tips is a blog about beauty salon tips, tricks, and hints. SoZo HAIR by Bajon Salon & Spa serves the greater Cincinnati area. We are located in Olde West Chester at the corner of Cincinnati-Dayton and West Chester Rds. We’re just a short drive from Mason Oh and Fairfield Oh….a big city hair salon without the big drive and big traffic.

Damaris is a passionate hair designer with an up to the minute awareness of what’s happening in the hair, beauty, and fashion industry. Her passion shows immediately along with her very caring customer service skills!


Karen Welch has 35 years of experience in the Hair Fashion Industry and is considered an expert in hair design, hair color, and beauty makeovers.