Most women are familiar with foil highlights and frosting cap highlights, but there is another type of technique that has been gaining in popularity over the past decade because of its ability to create subtle and natural-looking highlights. This technique is known as balayage, which is the art of painting highlights onto the surface of the hair using a brush.
Although balayage, or "hair painting" as it is sometimes called, has been around for decades, it is becoming increasingly popular because bold streaks and chunky highlights have fallen out of favor among trend-conscious salon clients in recent years. It is extremely rare to flip through the pages of a fashion magazine these days and find pictures of women with chunky "stripe" highlights. Even though the balayage technique can be used to create a dramatic effect, it is most often used to lighten the hair's surface layers a few shades for natural-looking highlights.
Balayage uses the same bleach formula that is used for foil and cap highlights, but the bleach is mixed to a thicker consistency. This thicker consistency allows the bleach to be painted onto the hair without running or dripping. Since the results are more subtle, a client receiving balayage highlights won't have to sit and process as long as a client with foil highlights.
Of course, the balayage technique can also be used to paint lowlights onto the hair as well as highlights. Some skilled balayage experts can even paint as many as five or six different shades of color onto the hair in one process. It is a technique which offers endless possibilities.
Another benefit of the balayage technique is that the hair, after it has been highlighted, will not need to be maintained as often. The more dramatic and bold the highlights, the more noticeable the regrowth will be. With subtle highlights, the appearance of dark roots will not be as noticeable, which means the client will not have to return to the salon for a touch-up as often.
Most modern and up-to-date salons offer this service, yet there are many salons and stylists who do not know how to perform balayage. In fact, some may not have even heard of it. This, of course, is a good way to determine just how up-to-date and modern your stylist or salon is, because you are much more likely to get a flattering color, cut, and style by frequenting a salon that is knowledgeable about current trends and techniques.