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What’s balayage hair color?

Balayage hair coloring has become one of the most popular hair trends in recent years. With its soft, natural-looking highlights, balayage offers a sun-kissed look that flatters all hair types and skin tones. Read on to learn all about how balayage is done, the different balayage styles you can choose from, proper balayage aftercare, and more.

What is balayage?

Balayage is a freehand hair painting technique where the colorist hand-paints highlights directly onto sections of the hair. This creates a graduated, melted effect with softer, more diffused results compared to traditional foiling methods. The highlights blend seamlessly with your base color for a low-maintenance, natural look.

The main benefits of balayage include:

  • Natural-looking, soft highlights
  • Grows out seamlessly with no obvious regrowth lines
  • Lower maintenance than traditional highlights
  • Works for all hair lengths and textures
  • Very customizable – endless color options!

How is balayage done?

The balayage application process is as follows:

  1. The colorist will first analyze your hair, including the texture, current color, and desired end result. This helps determine where to place the highlights and how much lightening is needed.
  2. Next, your hair is sectioned off using clips and ties to separate the pieces that will be colored.
  3. The colorist hand-paints the lightener onto the sections of hair using a brush, cotton swab, or their gloved hands.
  4. More lightener is applied closer to the ends/tips to create a sun-kissed look. The regrowth areas are left natural or painted with a very sheer application.
  5. After the desired level of lightening is reached, the highlights are toned to cancel out any brassiness and achieve the final shade.
  6. The lightener and toner are rinsed out and the hair is dried, styled, and finished.

The whole process usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the length and thickness of your hair. It’s typically less time-consuming than regular foils.

Balayage vs. traditional foils – What’s the difference?

Balayage Traditional Foils
Freehand painted highlights Foils used to section hair for highlighting
Diffused, melted look Uniform, defined stripes of color
Subtle, soft regrowth Harsher regrowth lines as it grows out
More natural, face-framing highlights Fuller overall head coverage
Lower maintenance Requires more frequent touch-ups

As you can see, balayage creates a softer, more natural highlighted effect compared to traditional foiling techniques. The main advantage is that as it grows out, balayage is lower maintenance and leaves behind no obvious regrowth lines.

Different balayage styles

There are endless options when it comes to balayage hair color! Here are some of the most popular balayage styles and looks:

Beachy balayage

This sun-kissed look has warm golden highlights concentrated around the mid-lengths and ends. It’s perfect for that fresh-from-the-beach vibe.

Face-framing balayage

Subtle, lighter pieces are painted around the face and frontal hairline to softly frame the features.

Ombre balayage

Darker roots graduate into lighter ends, mimicking the natural effects of the sun. An ombre balayage has a clear demarcation line between shades.

Bronde balayage

A gorgeous mix of brown and blonde shades interwoven together. This flatters brunettes who want to go a bit lighter while maintaining depth.

Chocolate balayage

Rich neutral and chocolatey brown tones make this balayage perfect for darker brunettes.

Smoky balayage

Cool-toned shades of ash, beige, and platinum are painted through the mid-lengths and ends for a chic, smoky effect.

Caramel balayage

Warm golden caramels and buttery blondes flatter those with golden undertones.

How much does balayage cost?

Like all hair coloring services, balayage costs can vary widely depending on factors like:

  • The salon or stylist
  • Your hair length and thickness
  • How much highlighting is needed
  • Whether it’s your first time or a touch-up

On average, you can expect to pay:

Hair Length Starting Price Range
Short Hair $100 – $250
Medium Hair $150 – $300
Long Hair $200 – $350

Re-touch appointments needed every 4-6 months are usually less expensive than the initial balayage. Maintenance balayage touch-ups typically start at around $100.

As you can see, the investment is well worth it for gorgeous, low-maintenance hair color that makes you feel like you just stepped out of the salon!

How to maintain balayage hair

Balayage requires some simple at-home care to keep it looking fresh between salon visits. Here are some balayage hair maintenance tips:

  • Use purple shampoo 1-2x a week to keep blonde tones bright and cancel brassiness
  • Deep condition weekly to keep hair hydrated and prevent dryness
  • Use heat protectant before hot tools to minimize fading
  • Avoid chlorine and salt water to prevent excessive stripping of color
  • Get regular trims to maintain the highlighted ends
  • Use dry shampoo to extend time between washes
  • Schedule touch-ups every 4-6 months to refresh growth areas

With the proper at-home regimen between salon visits, your balayage color should maintain its depth, dimension, and brightness for months on end.

Balayage on different hair types

The soft, painted technique of balayage works beautifully on all hair types and textures:

Balayage on straight hair

Blending is effortless on straighter textures. Painted highlights provide movement and dimension without compromising the sleekness.

Balayage on wavy hair

Waves and curls are enhanced by balayage’s depth and dimension. The highlights also minimize frizz and tame the texture.

Balayage on curly hair

Balayage breaks up the density of curls and coils for defined, touchable definition. The seamless regrowth prevents a harsh line of demarcation.

Balayage for short hair

Whether you have a pixie cut or bob, balayage adds shape and texture. Concentrate the lightness around the face and ends.

Balayage on black hair

Darker hair can still be enhanced with balayage. Go for chocolatey browns, rich caramels, and warm amber hues.

As you can see, balayage flatters all hair types and textures! The painted technique means the color blends seamlessly regardless of your hair’s natural density, wave pattern, or growth rate.


With its soft, natural-looking results and easy maintenance, there’s no question why balayage remains one of today’s most sought-after hair color techniques. While traditional foiling creates uniform stripes of color, balayage uses hand-painted highlights for a diffused, sun-kissed look. There are endless balayage styles to choose from, whether you want a subtle face-framing lift or an overall bronde effect. Balayage works for all hair lengths and textures. With the right at-home care, your fresh highlights can last 4-6 months before needing a touch-up. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance hair color boost, balayage is guaranteed to leave you feeling beautiful!