Balayage Highlights FAQ

Balayage hair color explained - FAQ with hair colorist Kiriko Kikuchi @kikibabemagic

Photo by Fit for a Femme

I received a great question from a color client about the benefits of using bleach versus color for subtle balayage highlights.

Balayage is the art of freehand painting bleach or color highlights onto the hair. It is beloved for creating a very soft sunkissed effect that grows out beautifully and requires less maintenance than traditional foil highlights.

There are many styles and variations of balayage techniques, so I appreciated the opportunity to nerd out and explain my own approach.

Read on for the full Q&A, plus styling tips to recreate this look at home!

Q: My sister is a cosmetologist, so she's been giving me some info and suggestions haha. I'm only looking at my highlights to be 1 or 3 levels lighter than my natural hair color.

My sister said my current level is probably level 1 or 2, so highlights should be around 3 or 4, but no lighter than 4. So with that, is it necessary to use bleach if I'm not going higher than 2 - 3 levels?

A: Balayage should take 3-5 hours, and that the time depends on how much hair you have. This is regardless of whether we use bleach or color.

Your sister is totally right that we could use color, but it won't shorten the timing because color, regardless of how subtle or dramatic you're trying to go, still needs to process 45 minutes.

I prefer to use bleach because the texture is easier to control (balayage bleach is like a paste, color is more liquid), making the overall application time faster, and then it processes much faster as well.

And color isn't necessarily healthier for the hair either, because color and bleach both require developer and it's the developer that opens the hair shaft, allowing color and bleach to penetrate the hair.

When I use bleach, I can look at the underlying color pigment that is revealed by the bleach and formulate the toner accordingly, creating a more natural looking effect, especially when it comes to creating cool/neutral highlights. Plus it'll look much better and more natural in the long run.

And I include Olaplex for all of my color services to keep your hair as healthy as technologically possible :) Does this all make sense?'

Thank you!

Balayage Hair Color Explained - Q&A with a hair colorist

Photo by Fit for a Femme

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  • Create the look in the photo by washing your hair with an ultra-hydrating cleansing creme like New Wash.

  • Towel-dry hair and apply a heat/UV protectant styling cream like R&Co High Dive.

  • Blowdry hair upside down for volume, then create soft waves by curling the bottom 2/3 of the hair away from the face, leaving out the ends, and then curl the crown section of the hair in alternating directions for a natural, beachy look.

  • Finish with a sprinkle of hair powder like Lulu Organics at the roots for volume.

Check out these products and more in the Babe Magic Shop. Leave your balayage questions in the comments!



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