BEAUTY

Balayage 101

02.06.15

I am obsessed with hair color. I stare at everyone’s hair color at the airport, on the subway, even when I get my morning coffee…

It began when I first started beauty school as practice for my consultations. I would search for the worst hair color I could find, and in my head I would silently practice what I would say to the client if he or she needed to fix it, and then I would try to formulate a solution as fast as I could. ( Little did I know how much this weird habit of mine would help me as I progressed in my career. Most clients REALLY appreciate a firm and decisive hair colorist. It gives them assurance that you know what you’re doing.)

Within the first minute of a client sitting in my chair, while they give me their backstory, I assess the situation, formulate a plan, and try to determine if what the client wishes for is a reasonable possibility. With clients that highlight their hair in particular, the FIRST thing I look for is whether their hair was done by foil or Balayage. I can quickly determined if foils were used by spotting a strong uniformity in color pattern and unfortunately at times by a harsh demarcation line at the root. Let’s just say, sometimes, it ain’t pretty.

Balayage is the most popular hair coloring request in many salons today, but the technique has been around forever. The term comes from the French word meaning “to sweep”, and was developed in the 1970s by the French as a freehand technique where the color is applied by hand rather than foils. The hair is painted using one of three (or a combination) of three paint designs. These designs are singles, slants, and V’s.

Because I went to work for a French salon directly after beauty school (Frederic Fekkai), the last time I picked up a foil was almost 15 years ago. I had to completely unlearn everything that I was taught in school, and was forced to approach hair from a completely different perspective. It was no longer about applying color in a pattern, but now about seeing every head of hair as an individual canvas that would be painted according to need. The entire picture had to be visible and customized. It took me years before I was confident enough to say that I had mastered this approach. Everyone who knows me can vouch that I am NOT a natural Francophile. (That’s a whole different blog post;)). However, when it comes to hair, I have to admit, the French know what they’re doing. Interestingly enough, my current boss and mentor, Serge Normant, is also French, but his approach to hair is the polar opposite of Frederic. Even with the newfound freedom to explore hair that I had at Fekkai, there was still a textbook “Fekkai” approach to hair.

In NYC in the early 2000s, it was easy to spot a Fekkai client. Chic, sun-kissed color, but “done”. Over time, my work has become decidedly undone. No two clients are ever the same.

I truly believe I got to that comfortable place because of the freedom that Balayage has given my coloring style. Balayage is also a very economical way to color your hair as you never have a solid demarcation line or regrowth, so if you can’t afford to get it done for another month it won’t look atrocious.

However, if your balayage isn’t done correctly you can end up with excessive overlapping that can cause damage. The process varies depending on the length of the hair and the desired result. I find that all my Balayage clients are going for different looks and need to maintain it at different rates. From ombré to the most natural sun kissed highlights, to highlights that mimic an all over color, it can all be achieved with just a paintbrush.

If you need a little celebrity inspiration to give your respective colorists, look no further than Giselle Bunchen, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Julia Roberts. Happy painting everyone…..

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Author: Kadi

Celebrity hair colorist at Serge Normant at John Frieda NYC and Jonathan and George Los Angeles, champagne drinker, future Senior LPGA tour golfer, bar method addict, loyal friend & fearless dreamer.

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