Pronounced BAH-LEE-AHGE, balayage is actually a French word meaning ‘sweeping,’ as in to sweep on a hair lightener to create highlights. Balayage is the technique of free-hand painting highlights onto the hair, creating a soft and natural gradation of lightness towards the ends. The result is the look of summers spent at the beach, or the fresh, unintentionally perfect highlights on a child. This natural-looking highlighting technique is not just for blondes but is actually used on all shades of hair to add soft, sunkissed dimension.
Of course, there are variations in application preferences: some colorists don’t separate the hair, while others separate the hair with cotton pieces, and others prefer using foil as a divider. There are different application nuances that produce slightly varied results, but the main reason balayage has become so popular is that it allows colorists to hand select the pieces of hair they want to highlight. Due to the customized, natural-looking placement, balayage also allows for a softer grow out.