How Pattern Work Can Help You Master Balayage

photos courtesy of @prettylittleombre(Balayage technique)

When it comes to mastering balayage, it's crucial to understand the basics before upping your skill set. Jamie Sea (@prettylittleombre) knows a thing or two about mastering the ground work of her go-to color technique before making things more complex. "When first learning balayage, proper brush work, understanding the science behind painting and having realistic expectations are all necessary," Sea says. "Once you have that down, the importance of painting pattern work becomes a major component in how you achieve the end result." 

The pattern work that Sea is referring to, better known as directions of brightness, can completely alter and customize your balayage with proper application. We talked with Sea to learn more about the types of placement, and to get her take on how balayage beginners can become balayage masters.

According to Sea, the directions of brightness patterns include V's, W's, singles, slants and gradient panels. These placement patterns are responsible for creating highlights and depth within your balayage. 


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V Placement: "Visually, the best way to do this is to imagine the V split in half," Sea says. "This creates two ribbons which is perfect when you want your guest to have some lived-in depth at the root and mid interior with ribbons of brightness."

W Placement: "Again, try to visualize the W split in half. You will have less interior depth and more ribbons of highlight," Sea adds.

Singles: "Singles can easily be adjusted to your liking," Sea says. "The brightness lives evenly from root to end, and you can customize these to look like traditional highlights or heavier ribons." 

Slants: "Slants work in one direction," Sea says. "They preserve the interior and root depth, and are ideal for creating a more dramatic money piece effect." 

Gradient Panels: According to see, gradient panels are the lowest maintenance application for a guest. "There is no specific point of brightness," she says. "The application follows gradient saturation from medium to heavy on the hair strand, which creates a very organic effect."

Even though pattern application can drastically change someone's haircolor, Sea stresses the importance of learning the fundamentals first. "The most important thing to remember with balayage is the science behind it," Sea says. "Once you have the science down pat, you can become the artist. You can customize your canvas, and create your very own unique, signature looks every time." And, above all else, have patience. "It's easy to feel vulnerable in the process of learning a new technique," she says. "Mistakes help you grow and help you better understand a technique in the long run."