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Updated: May 11, 2023

Balayage must be one of the hottest and most popular styles we see at Charlottes Academy, but what exactly is it? With so many colour techniques available, the difference between them can be tricky to spot. Almost as tricky as trying to pronounce balayage.

So, what is it?

The balayage technique originated in Paris in the 70’s, and the name translated into English means ‘sweeping’ which refers to the freehand method in which colour is applied to the hair in order to give a look that appears more natural. While there are several ways a stylist can achieve this result, the way sections of the hair can be selected in a more personalised manner, giving your hair an organic look, with much better grow out.

The language of Balayage

Of course, we now know that Balayage is French, but there are terms within Balayage itself that we think require some explanation.

First, we have ‘Babylights’ these are a specific technique of highlighting that adds very subtle colour to your hair. This is done by working with narrower sections of the hair when applying the highlight.

Next, there is Ombré which is a finished look rather than a technique. With colour being evenly applied across the mid-section to the ends, the result is a smooth transition from dark to light.

Dip-dying is – as above – a finished look rather than a technique. Aptly named because it does look as though the ends have been dipped in a contrasting colour.

Finally, we have Sombré, which is what you get when you “soften” an Ombré look. Essentially the smooth gradient colour change is made even more subtle by keeping within two levels of the base colour.

Is balayage for you?

One of the greatest things about Balayage is that it truly is suitable for everyone, and here is why. As balayage can be totally personalised to your hair's base colour, you could be bright blonde, a dark brunette, or a vibrant redhead and still get awesome results. It’s even perfect for those who want something that is a little lower maintenance too.

The only thing to keep in mind is the current condition of your hair, as more often than often, a pre-lightener is needed, so prior to any balayage, our stylists would run through a consultation with you to make sure you know what to expect and to check your hair is suitable. If there are signs of damage, fear not, we can always recommend treatments to use to get your hair healthy again.

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