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Does wonder blading work?

Wonder blading is a relatively new hair coloring technique that has been gaining popularity over the past few years. It is a form of balayage highlighting that involves hand-painting the hair with a blade instead of using foils or caps. Wonder blading promises to deliver a natural, lived-in look with soft, blended highlights and low maintenance. But does this trendy technique actually work? In this article, we’ll examine what wonder blading is, its pros and cons, cost considerations, and alternatives to help you decide if it’s right for your hair.

What is wonder blading?

Wonder blading, also known as blading or hair painting, is a freehand balayage technique where the colorist uses a small blade or knife to paint highlights directly onto the surface of the hair. The stylist hand-paints ultra-fine highlights in pieces around the face and ends to create a soft, natural look.

Here’s a quick overview of how the wonder blading process works:

  • The colorist sections out the hair around the face and ends.
  • Using a small blading knife or tool, the stylist paints hair lightener or color directly onto the sections of hair.
  • The lightener or color is painted on in an irregular, organic pattern to mimic natural highlighting from the sun.
  • After processing, the highlights blend seamlessly with the base for a subtle, lived-in look.

The wonder blading technique differs from traditional foiling because the color is painted directly on the hair’s surface in thin, sweeping strokes. The color doesn’t saturate the entire strand, creating soft, blurred highlights rather than harsh lines of demarcation. The result is meant to be very natural looking.

The pros and cons of wonder blading

Wonder blading does offer some advantages over foil highlights, but there are downsides to consider as well. Here are the main pros and cons:


  • Subtle, soft, blended highlights. The painted technique creates a more diffused look than foils.
  • Less maintenance. Because it’s applied directly to the hair, the regrowth is less noticeable as it grows out.
  • No foils or meching. Many clients dislike the feeling and look of foils.
  • Customizable. The stylist hand-paints the highlights based on your base color, skin tone, and preference.
  • Less damage. No foils means less heat on the hair during processing.


  • Highlight placement is less precise. The stylist hand-paints the color, so the highlights may not be evenly distributed.
  • Grow out may appear messy. As it grows out, the highlighted pieces may look splotchy against the regrowth.
  • Limited to lightening. The technique doesn’t work as well for depositing tone-on-tone color.
  • Higher skill required. It takes skill and experience for the stylist to evenly distribute the highlights.
  • More expensive. It takes more time and expertise than standard highlighting.

Whether the pros outweigh the cons depends on your specific hair goals and preferences. For many clients, the soft, blended look is worth the higher cost and maintenance considerations.

Cost of wonder blading

Like any hair coloring service, the cost of wonder blading will vary depending on where you live, the Experience level of your stylist, and how much hair needs to be colored. On average, however, you can expect to pay the following prices:

Service Average Price Range
Wonder blading highlights $150 – $300+
Wonder blading full head $200 – $400+
Wonder blading touch-up $100 – $250

As you can see, the initial wonder blading application tends to cost more than traditional highlighting. You’re paying for the stylist’s time and expertise in painting the highlights. Follow-up touch-up appointments every 6-12 weeks are required to maintain the look.

The investment may be worth it if you’re committed to the soft, lived-in highlighted look wonder blading delivers. But if you don’t want to splurge, there are some more affordable options to consider.

Alternatives to wonder blading

If the price tag of wonder blading is outside your budget, here are a few highlighting alternatives that can give a similar look for less:

Traditional foiling

You can ask your colorist to create a blended balayage look with foils. Have them use fine “baby lights” around the face and ends to mimic the softness of blading. Add some very light face framing for dimension. While not exactly the same, in skilled hands foils can deliver a pretty, natural highlight.

Cap highlighting

Using a cap highlight method, your stylist can paint highlights on the surface of the hair pinned under a perforated cap. This will give a similar hand-painted look as blading. It’s faster, so the service cost is a bit lower.

At-home highlights

If you’re comfortable coloring your own hair, an at-home highlighting kit can be an affordable DIY option. Look for ones that use thin highlighting wands or applicator brushes to help create the painted-on look. You won’t get the polish of professional blading, but you can mimic the technique.

Hair painting services

Some salons offer similar hand-painting techniques under names like hair painting or color melting. These services emulate the freehand highlighting of blading for lower cost. Ask your stylist if they offer any services like this.

Is wonder blading worth it?

Whether or not wonder blading is “worth it” depends on your budget, preferences, and hair coloring goals. Here are a few final things to consider:

It’s best for lightening and subtle highlights.

The blading technique works best for lightly highlighting and softly lightening hair a few shades. If you want dramatic color changes or bold highlights, foiling would give better saturation.

It requires repeated touch-ups.

Plan on a touch up every 6-12 weeks to keep the highlights freshly painted. Letting it grow out too much defeats the purpose of the lived-in look. The regular cost of maintenance adds up.

It’s technique dependent.

The success of blading relies heavily on the skill and artistry of your colorist. Seek out stylists specifically experienced and trained in the blading technique. View examples of their work first.

A less expensive highlight can still look pretty.

While not exactly the same, you can achieve a similar softly highlighted effect with foils or cap highlighting done by a talented stylist. Go for a less expensive option if you’re on a tight budget.


Wonder blading can deliver beautiful, soft, natural-looking highlights when done correctly. However, the results rely heavily on the colorist’s skill. It also requires more frequent touch-ups than standard highlighting. While not the best option for every client, wonder blading is worth considering if you’re willing to invest in the upkeep of the hand-painted look. Schedule a consultation with an experienced stylist to see if it’s the right fit for your hair goals and budget.