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From balayage to illuminage: How to perfect the technique

by eleanor / last updated August 11, 2021


Want to elevate your balayage offering? The Illuminage technique from Wella Professionals provides premium service, designed for a naturally multi-tonal effect.

What is Illuminage?

Nikki Clifford, salon owner, Wella Craft Expert, Wella Passionista and Educator, notes how Wella Professionals Illuminage has elevated and maximised her colour services

“My new go-to technique is Illuminage. This quick and easy colour technique is perfect for illuminating your client’s hair for summer,” she says. “It creates a natural and luminous balayage, but with a more luxurious and bespoke feel. In the salon I’m always being asked for more lived-in looks, soft face contouring lights and a more sandy palette.”

It’s also a brilliant way to upskill your technique and offer a more premium balayage offering. “The service is great because you can use it to upsell to your existing balayage clients – it’s a bit more high maintenance than traditional balayage,” says Nikki. “It combats the low frequency of appointments that often comes with balayage services.”

Illuminage: Step-by-step

Want to try out Illuminage? Wella Professionals global ambassador Romeu Felipe shares how to achieve your most luminous balayage yet…

The Formulas

Step 1: Lightening

Lightening Formula A:
• 30g Blondor Freelights
• 45ml 9% Blondor FREELIGHTS Developer
• 1.5ml Wellaplex No1 Bond Maker
• 45ml 9% Blondor FREELIGHTS Developer
• 1.5ml Wellaplex No1 Bond Maker.

Formula B:
• 20g 8/93 + 20g 9/19 ILLUMINA COLOR
• 40ml 9% Welloxon Perfect Developer.

Step 2: Root Shadowing with ILLUMINA COLOR

Formula C:
• 20g 7/ + 20g 7/81 ILLUMINA COLOR
• 80ml 1.9%/6vol Welloxon Perfect Pastel Developer.

Step 3: Blonde Toning

Formula D:
• 40ml 1.9%/6vol Welloxon Perfect Pastel Developer

Formula E:
• 30g 10/36 ILLUMINA COLOR
• 60ml 1.9%/6vol Welloxon Perfect Pastel Developer.

 The Sectioning

These are the sectioning guidelines you’ll need to follow to prepare for the technique




The Illuminage Technique


Step 1

Starting at the nape area, take small zigzag sections. Thread formula A slightly away from the roots, applying more product to saturate the ends. Apply to every second section, isolating with clear sheets for separation and visible control.

Step 2

From ear to centre forehead, take diagonal slices. Feathering formula A lightly towards the roots, whilst building product up at the lengths and ends.

Step 3

Divide the top diamond section into two. Take large zigzag sections starting from the back working towards the front. Gently back comb the peaks of the zigzag, feather formula B close to the root area and lengths and ends. Isolate with the clear sheets. Take the vallies from the zigzag and feather formula A from the mid-lengths to the ends isolating with clear sheets.

Step 4

Finish with a small diamond section at the front. Back comb to defuse the lines. Feather formula A. Isolate with a clear sheet. Develop, rinse and apply WellaPlex No. 2 Bond Stabilizer for 10 minutes. Rinse, shampoo with ColorMotion+ and apply Blondor Seal & Care for 5 minutes.

Root Shadowing and Blonde Toning

Step 5

On damp hair, begin at the nape applying formula C just away from the scalp. Bringing it down to approximately 7cm to the mid area.

Step 6

Apply lightly towards the front hairline, in small sections. Develop for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Step 7

Retake the same sectioning by separating the perimeter with the diamond section at the crown. At the perimeter apply formula E from mid-lengths to ends. On the diamond section apply formula D to the mid area and formula E to the ends. Develop for up to 20 minutes, rinse, shampoo with Color Motion+ and apply Color Motion+ Express Post Color Treatment for 30 seconds.

Illuminage Inspiration

Ready to experiment with the Illuminage technique? Nikki shares three of her favourite formulations for a gorgeous colour melt…

Sandy Blonde

Roots: ILLUMINA COLOR 7/ & 7/81

Mids/ends: ILLUMINA COLOR 8/93 & 10/36


Creamy & Bright

Root Tap: COLOR TOUCH 6/71 & 7/0

Mids/ Ends: COLOR TOUCH 10/81 & 10/0 & 9/16

Soft Beige


Mids/Ends: 8/97 & 10/97

Nikki’s Tips for Illuminage

Want to go for a bolder look? “To create brighter ribbons of colour free hand, I use Wella Blondor Freelights Powder and 9% Freelights Developer,” says Nikki.

“The new Wella Clear Sheets and Highlighting Papers are amazing to isolate each area, they are my new favourite tools when creating these looks” she says. “To keep these colours looking fresh at home I recommend the Wella Color Fresh Mask in Caramel Glaze.”

To learn more about Wella Professionals Illuminage visit education.wella.com or follow @WellaHairUKI on Instagram.

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