6 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Balayage

photo by hedgehog94/iStock/Getty Images Plus

While countless hairstylists offer balayage as a service, there are few who perform the technique correctly. That's because what appears to be a simple, freehand technique is actually a complicated process that requires practice, attention to detail and a boatload of patience. 

Too often, stylists dive into a balayage appointment without thinking of the bigger picture. Jennifer Griffiths (@jenghair), a balayage and color correction specialist in Mission Viejo, California, suggests mapping out exactly how you plan to execute the look you are trying to achieve before picking up the brush. Here, she highlights a few key points to keep in mind. 

1. Are you going to balayage or foilayage? Both techniques have different, but equally beautiful outcomes depending on the look you are trying to achieve. Typically, balayage provides lower levels of lift, while using foils and smaller sections provides the maximum level of lift. You can also combine the two techniques to personalize each client's look. If you want to master blonde and brunette balayage, you should be able to perform both techniques.

2. What areas of the head need the most lift? Map out your starting and ending points before you begin. If you're comfortable starting in the back of the head, try increasing your developer as you work towards the areas where you want the most lift. You can also take thinner sections for the areas you want to be the lightest to ensure the maximum level of lift. 

3. Are you adding or taking away dimension? If your client is starting with a solid color and they're hoping for more dimension, try adding low lights to your balayage to create depth. If she's much darker than her goal, you may need to lighten most of her head and leave small sections of dark hair out. 

4. Don’t be afraid to mix multiple formulas. Most new clients come in with previously chemically-processed hair. In that case, you may need to mix a higher volume for darker regrowth and a lower volume for her previously lightened ends. You can also try mixing several toners for different areas on the head. If the client has some brassy strands, use a darker toner on those strands and tone the rest with a different formula.  

5. It’s all in the toner. Toners are like the icing on the cake—they make each client's color unique. Get to know your color line and each color’s tonal background, and then try mixing different formulas to create new colors. 

6Find a lightener that works best for you. A lightener with a smooth texture and easy application can make a world of difference in your blend.