Is it pronounced biolage, balage, bulioge.. it’s balayage! Not to be confused with Matrix’s “more natural” line Biolage, Balayage is french in the language of origin and it means to sweep or to paint. Now Balayage is much different than Ombre, even if you google the word Balayage, thousands of Ombres will pop up. So lets stabilize this first and foremost. Ombre is a look, like saying a pixie cut, an Ombre within haircolor has a fade or gradient to the color itself. Balayage is a technique used to achieve a desired look, like doing a razor cut. So to be technical you can very much achieve an Ombre using a balayage highlighting technique, but you can also achieve an Ombre using foils.
With that said, where does balayage differ from foils? Balayage is usually left in the open air to process versus being in a foil. The hair being isolated in a foil creates more contrast alone, but the metal foil is also a catalyst for heat, so you get an even bigger lift, and more intense contrast. Now we all know there is a fine line bewteen “high contrast” and zebra stripes.. In addition balayage also equates to “surface painting” the hair, versus hair in a foil will be fully saturated with the lightening product and also coming very close to the scalp. In this scenario balayage would create a much softer highlight that has a slight gradient from the scalp to the mid lenghts of the hair, whereas the foil would be a higher contrast and the same brightness from scalp to ends. Some adjectives we like to use when referring to the look balayage creates are: sun kissed, organic, beach hair, dimensional, soft, subtle, like teenage girl highlights from nature. Now I did say usually left in the open air to process, you do see a lot of times that people are using saran wrap. In my opinion this hurts the blending that you’ve already created but hey that’s just my opinion, and that is one of the beauties of our industry there is no “right” when is comes to creating art. I also must express my love for the REDKEN free-hand lightener. This lightener was created just for balayage specifically, so what it does is it actually forms a hard shell over the piece of hair you just painted. This keeps the moisture locked in underneath the shell, on the hair, and the longer lightener can stay moist, the longer it can lift, thus eliminating my need to use saran wrap.
We also call balayage an “emotional” technique meaning that is goes more off of feel than structure. Again this could be compared to razor cutting. In razor cutting there often isn’t a hard line of a guide to follow, you more go by feel and visual analysis of the hair and shape. It requires a much more flowy arm and wrist action to cut with the razor properly, and in addition there are various ways to angle the razors blade to create unique looks and texture. Same goes with balayage, your not following a structured foil pattern to create a look, your going off of feel and visuals to create an organic look. And the application method is much more flowy with a wrist and forearm sweeping motion. That is why at TSPA Ft. Myers we are so passionate about teaching the body mechanics of balayage to our students. From proper alignment, to elevation, to brush saturation and blending we got you covered! And it is from this foundation that we believe you will be able to create any look you desire using balayage and getting away from the 1000 foil marathon dance.
– Richie Wermüth – Co-Owner, TSPA Ft. Myers