Balayage Breakdown: WHERE it comes from, WHY you want it, and HOW to get it

MonaHow many of you can honestly say you love going to work every day? According to a 2014 study, more than half of all Americans are unsatisfied with their jobs. As disappointing as that is, I'm not surprised. People's secrets, along with their split ends, have been falling from my chair for over 20 years now. Thankfully, I'm not included in that headcount. Helping people feel beautiful was all I ever wanted to do and it's hard to imagine myself playing a different role. However, that doesn't mean every day gets a standing ovation. There are mundane parts of my job just like anyone else's. So, when I get the opportunity to unleash my inner Edward Scissorhands, it feels absolutely exhilarating! For some stylists, that means sculpting the perfect cut or blow-drying a masterpiece. 

For Me? Hand me some brushes. I want to paint. 


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Kelly A.Owner / Hair Stylist

Balayage: The French Way to #SweeptheNation

The French gave us a lot to be thankful for: croissants, wine, cheese (a personal favorite), fashion, and kissing (another good one). But perhaps the greatest gift is balayage, which is French for "to sweep or paint." I'm sure you have seen #sweepingthenation slide across your phone screen from time to time:) This technique allows the artist to customize the color for each section of the hair without being restricted to a small area. It also cuts back on maintenance. Because the hair grows in more naturally, your highlights maintain their luster for longer periods of time. Your 6-8 week appointment just got pushed back to 10. Bonus! It's no wonder why this once underground method is one of the most requested services in salons across the world.

So, WHY does everyone want it?

Aside from giving stylists the freedom to create depth and dimension through hand-painting individual sections, balayage also allows for a more natural-looking effect, with less noticeable regrowth than regular foil highlights. For anyone who wants to look like they just spent a month basking in the sun, balayage is the way to go. Plus, it's customized to flatter and highlight your features. A skilled colorist will be able to take one look at you and know which strands to paint, depending on your skin tone, hair color, and style. Jack Howard, hair colorist connoisseur at Paul Edmonds and the man who brought balayage to the UK, says he gives his longer-haired clients "ponytail lights" - which is balayage placed underneath the hair so that it doesn't appear one-dimensional. There's a reason why celebrities like Gisele Bundchen, Jennifer Lopez, and Sarah Jessica Parker treat their luscious locks like blank canvases. It's an art form. (Fun Trivia Bit: SJP is dubbed the "queen of balayage!")

And, HOW do you get it?

Balayage is a surface technique (unlike foil highlights where the color is saturated from root to tip), so think soft, graceful strokes with even application. If not, the color will appear too heavy and detract from the application's discreet contrast. Over-saturation is one of the most common mishaps in balayage; it's a big no-no! Balayage pieces should be very close and fine at the root, leading to a thicker highlight at the ends of the hair. You can also be creative with color and use more than one formula. By feathering the color lightly at the roots and more heavily toward the ends, your hair will take on a rich, textured appearance. And despite popular opinion, balayage does not color discriminate. Blondes, brunettes, and redheads can all reap the benefits.

Any final words of advice?

  1. Show and Tell A picture is worth 1,000 words, or should I say, strands. Take a few moments to scroll through your Pinterest "Hair Goals" board and then schedule a consultation with your stylist. Discuss different options and be clear in what you want. 

  2. Diamonds or Pearls?  It may not seem that important, but the type of jewelry you wear could help narrow down the best formula. Warm tones or cool? Gold or silver? Personally, I'll take the sparkly stuff any day of the week.

  3. Remember, sun-kissed NOT sun-burntUV rays can over-brighten highlights, so if you're soaking up the sun, keep those freshly painted locks under wraps. 

  4. Wash, but don't repeat oftenThe less you wash your hair, the longer your color will last. We recommend 3 - 4 times per week. If the thought of this makes you cringe, a dry shampoo might be a good alternative. Talk to your stylist for more options.

  5. Handle with CareUsing products specially designed for color-treated hair can keep you off the DON'T List. We use L’OREAL’s Professionnel Serie Expert line.  It's the bomb. Even Buddha thinks so :)
QUICK TIP: So many bombshells, so little time! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the influx of celebrity pics, go old-school and pull out a picture of yourself from childhood. Those gorgeous, natural highlights are perfect inspiration!


Inspiration comes from all over the world, but you have to admit, there is something very appealing about the French culture. Carrie Bradshaw dumped the Big Apple to roam the streets of Paris in her Manolos. Coco Chanel kept it classy while being amazingly fabulous. And Joan of Arc proved that girls could be both saints AND bad asses with really great hair.

Did you know that Joan was the original inspiration behind the bob? Just imagine the damage she could have done with some balayage!  Oooh La La!

I'm a fan. Are you? 

~Kelly A.

Click Here to Schedule a Free Balayage Consultation. #sweepingthenation