Balayage: What is It, and Why is it Still All the Rage in Hair?


No matter what the shade(s) involved, balayage has been the most popular technique in hair colouring for quite some time now and still shows no signs of slowing down. Take a quick peek at any of our salon’s pages and you’ll see #balayagefordays, so we think it’s officially time to: 1) admit that we don’t truly know exactly what’s happening when our stylist is doing this to our hair, and 2) take the time to find out exactly what is happening when our stylist is doing this to our hair – and why it’s so popular. Whether this is a bandwagon you’ve been riding for quite some time now, or you’re just thinking about grabbing a seat, here’s what you need to know about balayage.

Question 1: How do exactly do you pronounce it?
Don’t be embarrassed; this is not exactly an uncommon problem. We’ve seen it broken down as BAH-LAY-AHG but if we’re being honest, it helps us to first think of the word “ballet”, then add an “aw,” and end with a soft g.

Question 2: How is this different from the highlights of last decade?
Balayage comes from the French word for “to sweep” or “to paint” and that’s exactly what your stylist is doing here. Your talented colourist is going to freehand paint the product onto your hair, without using foil the way we used to see with a traditional highlight. At the tops of each section, the product is applied onto the surface of the hair only, and product is not fully saturated through each section of hair until your stylist reaches the very tips. This makes for a beautiful graduated effect that is more dramatic toward the tips and less so at the roots.

Because balayage is freehand, it’s also very custom, and your stylist will tailor the precise “painting” he or she does to your hair cut, your natural hair growth patterns, and the natural variances in your hair colour. It’s truly fascinating to know that your stylist can pick and choose exact placements of product to best compliment your features and your cut, for a super-custom end result.

Question 3: What makes balayage better?
First of all, “better” is relative – what’s better for you is whatever YOU like best. After all, it’s your hair and your look, and if you still love a young Justin Timberlake’s frosted tips or that black underneath, blonde on top look that Avril Lavigne used to pair with copious amounts of eyeliner, then we support you. Or maybe you love the very of-the-moment effect of Kylie’s dark roots with blonde lengths, and again, we are not trying to tell you we are not here for that look.

All of that being said, a benefit of balayage is the much more subtle, natural look than the aforementioned pop stars of old or cosmetics moguls of now. The painted technique creates a really natural, sun-kissed glow with a lot of dimension. It’s also pretty low-maintenance as far as hair colour goes, as it is lighter toward the ends of your hair, but in a more varied way than a straight ombré. Your roots will grow in less noticeably than with a more flat hair colour. 

As a final bonus, balayage is also faster than traditional highlights, since the product is freehanded without the use of those foils – yay for shorter appointment times, right? 

Still have questions? Ready to give it a whirl? Call up Aura St. Vital, St. Vital Unisex, or Revolutions St. Vital to book a consultation or appointment! And while we’re talking hair, we’ve got got some great video tutorials for you to try like how to master dry shampoo, our favourite ways to wear this pretty hair accessory, and how to wave your hair with a flat iron. With all that styling, don’t forget to keep things strong with these six products to protect and strengthen your hair.

Photos and hair by:

Image 1: St. Vital Unisex
Image 2: St. Vital Unisex
Image 3: Aura St. Vital
Image 4: Revolutions Hair Salon

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