Natural Haircolor Painting Techniques

Hair painting has become a huge trend, “because it creates a natural finish—as opposed to foils that highlight uniformly from the roots to the ends,” says Patrick McIvor, artistic and techni-culture director for Goldwell and KMS California and techni-color director of ARROJO. Here, he shares two ways to approach hair painting or balayage—both done by stylist Ali Eskridge at the award-winning ARROJO Salons in New York.

Look A: Classic Hair Painting 

1. Hold hair between thumb and fingers at the light line (where the concentration of color is starting).
2. Start with a little bit of product. The cleaner the brush, the cleaner the application.
3. Move the brush before it touches the hair, and work back and forth. Hold hair taught so it feels like a guitar string.
4. Apply lightener until you are satisfied with the look and saturation, and back brush if more diffusion is needed. The less hair seen, the more lightening there will be.
5. Let the section drop into the palm of your hand, and gently work lightener down to the ends, going for partial saturation.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and process.


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Look B: Hair Painting with Full Saturation 

1. Use diagonal section to keep the end result softer.
2. Paint gently and softly, going higher toward the scalp. Because you’re doing full saturation, have the light line start a little higher, and after the light line, concentrate on full saturation.
3. Let the section drop into the palm of your hand, and gently work lightener down to the ends, going for full saturation. Lift the section and apply product to the back as well.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and process.