Style 101: Balayage

by chloeweldon / last updated April 14, 2022


Balayage may have been causing a buzz within the hairdressing world for the past few years, but it actually first became popular back in the 1970s. Brooks & Brooks artistic director, Marlon Hawkins, breaks down this popular technique.

A hairdresser called Yvan, who worked at the Carita Salon in Paris, is credited with inventing the technique. He applied lightening paste to fine sections of hair using a thin brush and used cotton rather than foils to separate the strands.

Balayage is the art of hair painting. Very visual – involving using a brush and applying product on the surface of sections of hair, creating soft seamless blends of dimensional colour. By applying colour in this way, the finished effect is generally more natural and less structured than when more traditional methods are used.

Balayage made a triumphant return in recent years, becoming the must-know technique for stylists across the globe, as celebrities including Khloe Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Aniston embraced the trend.

Balayage is going nowhere, although for 2022, free hand painting has a different feeling and approach…

How to do it

For 2022, the balayage umbrella is being used. Multiple techniques and paints are used to add depth and dimension to hair rather than using one paint throughout, it’s about personalised balayage to the hair type.

Before adding colour, study the client’s hair. Whether it be natural or pre-lightened or coloured, look at how strategic placement of lighter or darker tones can create a natural colour finish.

For the root balayage, use soft blending techniques. Apply a slightly softer painting at the root and heavier throughout the length and ends, creating seamless blends from the ultimate lived in blonde.

When creating a face-framing money piece, think detail and subtlety. When starting a face frame, try going in with different colour products like ammonia-free, permanent colours to keep condition and stop hard lines.

Top tips

Every client is different – they have different hair and are looking for different results. Don’t be afraid to use different tools, like your hands when applying colour to longer hair, or mascara wands when getting the perfect hairline. Create a bespoke personal application for the individual.

Different techniques help aid different results like finer details or higher saturations.

No nos

Don’t take to a fine section when surface painting and be careful of a runnier consistency!

For more balayage inspiration, take a look at the HJI hair gallery – with looks by Marlon Hawkins. In our gallery, you can create bespoke searches by selecting the cut, style, length, colour (and many more) categories that you’re looking for.


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