Sep 13, 2018 | By Sarah Owen
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I learned to Balayage back in the mid 1990s while working in the USA after discovering what an amazing highlighting technique it was. Not only was it speedy – meaning clients didn’t have to sit so long in the chair – but it grew out beautifully and required less maintenance. It was at this time Hollywood also discovered it and so it became my most popular hair service and I went on to teach it to hundreds of hairdressers across America.
Returning to the UK full time in 2010, a small revolution was taking place with the Dip Dye colouring method – suddenly women realised they where no longer tied to regular foil highlights. I saw huge potential in this and started the Balayage revolution, asking people to put down their foils and pick up a balayage brush – it was the perfect storm.
Social media and the age of the celebrity had begun and wherever you looked in magazines, runways and movies you couldn’t see a foil highlight – all we were seeing was Balayage and ombre. Many people dismissed it as trend, and while ombre is a trend, Balayage is a technique – it simply means handpainted colour that can be perfectly bespoke to suit the individual, that looks like natural, sun-kissed hair. That’s why it isn’t going away. Balayage has really taken hold in the UK market now and is fast becoming a standard on many salon menus. I have more requests to teach it than I have days to offer.
There are many ways to execute a Balayage application, some that look more complicated than others, but the best method is the one where you can do a second or third application, it’s not just a one hit wonder. That’s why I trademarked my approach and I believe that’s why people seek me out to teach and also to look after their hair. Balayage in its truest form is a highlighting technique which mimics what the sun does. It’s fresh, youthful and a very personalised look – not like a sea of perfectly placed foils, which I believe looks really dated now.
The rise of Balayage and the general freehand colour movement was the perfect boiling pot for new colour trends that have captured the public’s imagination. Back in 2012, I started doing “Bronde” – the fact it is neither brown or blonde has made it incredibly versatile for so many people.
Freehand colour is modern and tailored to the individual and that’s why women are coming back to the salon – it’s not that highlights are dead, just that foil highlights are going the way of cap highlights. With a quicker processing time (my New York Lights are focused around the face and so quick to do I call them “lunch hour highlights”), less frequent visits to the salon and a more natural, beautiful A-list result, why wouldn’t you join the #balayagerevolution?
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