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What is balayage hair colour? Our guide to balayage technique

Learn all about one of the most popular haircolor trends: balayage.

What is hair balayage, does it damage the hair, how does it differ from ombre or highlights and, finally, should you try the balayage technique?

Hair trend guide: what is hair balayage?

Balayage is all about colour, not cut, and can be created on almost any hairstyle. What is balayage hair colour we hear you ask? 

Meaning 'to sweep' in french, balayage has remained on-trend and in-demand since appearing in salons a few years ago. It's a hair colour technique that allows for a sunkissed and natural look - balayage is designed to create the gold shimmer that the sun gives the hair in summer. More natural than a full head of colour, balayage is the ideal choice when you want something subtle, or to boost the natural shimmer and give a new dimension to your hair.

Why is hair balayage so popular?

This timeless technique is one of the most sought-after colour styles in salons today. Balayage gives a healthy-looking finish that is glossy and chic and can be worn in subtle or bold ways: it's all a question of application. Balayage's popularity also comes from the fact that it is extremely low maintenance. A balayage will grow out beautifully and naturally so you don't get a clear regrowth line.

How to do balayage hair colour technique?

Balayage is a freehand technique best done in a salon where the colour is applied by hand rather than using tools such as traditional foiling or cap highlighting. A professional hairdresser will be able to personalize this technique to your hair colour, length and texture. To create an amazing custom balayage your hairdresser will use our Blond Studio lightening range together with our complete portfolio of DIA Light toning shades.

How long does hair balayage take?

Achieving your chosen balayage can take as short a time as 45 minutes and up to as long as 5 hours. There are a few factors determining the length of the process, such as the length and thickness of your hair. The longer and thicker the hair, the more time the process will consume to dye and style the hair. Other factors to consider include the previous hair colour you got and how many shades lighter you want your hair to be. But generally, for a partial hair balayage, expect a total amount of up to 1.5 hours. Whereas to complete a full hair balayage, you're looking at a salon visit of around 3-5 hours.

Can balayage technique cover grey hair?

Balayage does not cover grey hair, but it can help to blend tones in for a refined result. For example, if you are aiming for ashy balayage hair colour, the hair lighteners will play off of your natural hair colour, creating an evenly-distributed silvery-light grey look. So the balayage technique can be a smart solution if you are looking to minimise grey strands. If you want to instantly hide your grey hair, Hair Touch Up Spray by L'Oréal Professionnel Australia is the ideal product.

How long does balayage last?

Balayage hair colour lasts between 8 to 14 weeks on average, depending on the style chosen. There are also a few factors that may affect the longevity of a balayage, such as the colour of your roots, the rate of your hair growth and the way you care for your balayage hair. The key to a long-lasting balayage hair colour and glow is using the right hair products. Check out  L'Oréal Professionnel Australia's hair lightening products that help maintain your hair's radiance. Additionally, talk to your colourist about the upkeep. It's important to remember that the cut dictates the placement of the colour, so the heavier the colour application the more upkeep will be needed.

How to maintain and freshen up balayage hair?

There are a few ways you can freshen up balayage hair. Firstly, using purple-based toners or shampoos, such as L'Oréal Professionnel Australia's Chroma Crème Purple Shampoo, is an effective way to restore colour vibrancy and improve the overall shine of your hair. Another thing you could do when your balayage hair looks brassy is do weekly treatment with natural ingredients, such as almond oil. Almond oil helps soften dull hair and restore shine. Try our Mythic Oil Creme Universelle Blow Dry Cream, formulated with almond oil to deeply nourish the hair and provide a healthy glow. You should also reduce the frequency of using heated styling tools to avoid heat damage. Lastly, to bring back colour vibrancy to life, seek professional advice from salon professionals every quarter.

Is balayage bad for your hair? Hair health and maintenance

What does balayage mean for your hair's health?

Getting your hair coloured in a salon prevents damaging your hair, and this is especially true of balayage which involves lightening products. Regular moisturising masks and colour-specific haircare products will help keep your hair in great condition and show off your balayage hair to its best.

Balayage hair colour grows out beautifully, meaning less frequent appointments and maintenance. Use a colour radiance protecting shampoo and conditioner, as well as regular treatments and heat protection products when styling. Our Vitamino Color A:OX helps protect the colour radiance of your hair, leaving your balayage hair looking shiny and fresh.

Let's look at how balayage differs from other colouring techniques. What is balayage hair, compared to ombre and foils?

What is hair balayage: Balayage vs. Ombre

Ombre is a colouring technique which means shadow. It is a seamless graduation from a darker to lighter shade. With balayage technique, the lighter colours are applied subtly all throughout the hair, at both the roots and ends. So, with balayage vs. ombre, it depends if you want the gradual colour difference to show (ombre) or be more subtle all-over (balayage).

What is hair balayage: Balayage vs. Highlights

Balayage is a freehand colouring technique with softer, less noticeable regrowth lines than traditional highlights, which are applied using foils. Considering balayage vs. highlights? Highlights using foils will give a uniform finish with more defined strands than a balayage, which is painted on by hand.

Would you look good with a balayage hair colour?

If you have never had your hair coloured before or you are afraid of a drastic change, balayage is the best colour technique for you. If you are a blonde, brunette or redhead, have coloured or non-coloured hair, it doesn't matter, the balayage technique can be tailored to everyone. A balayage is also great for colouring greys because the hairdresser can cover the few grey strands rather than colour the whole head. Read our guides on various hair colour concerns.

The choice is really between you and your colourist. It's important to get your balayage done in-salon, not at home, because the colour application requires the skills of an expert hairdresser.

When it comes to what is a hair balayage, haircut styles are almost limitless. Balayage works for all lengths except for very short cropped hair, and is particularly suited to lose curls, beachy and tousled looks. This showcases the many colour variations that the technique brings to the hair. To get these hairstyles at home you can use our professional styling products from our Tecni.ART range.

Image credit: Getty Images - RobertoDavid