Balayage: Everything you need to know about the A listers’ favourite hair treatment


Want to elevate your hairstyle by adding a beautiful depth and lifting your colour this summer? Balayage is a freehand technique of highlighting hair to give it a natural look with an added shiny dimension. Popular with A-listers including Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Rihanna, balayage was originally created by French stylists to give their customers a natural hue, without any contrast between colours. It’s a fun and stylish look, but can come with lots of questions.

We asked our balayage colourists to give you the lowdown on this gorgeous highlighting technique.

What is balayage?

The term ‘balayage’ means ‘to sweep’ and describes how the colour is applied and swept through the hair with a brush. This is quite a defined process and results in the gorgeous final look. The whole point of a balayage colour is to create sun-kissed hair that lifts your natural colour and adds a healthy-looking shine.

The balayage hair technique results in a delicate, natural-looking finish, as the colour is swept through the mid-lengths to the ends. Balayage differs from foil highlights where the colour is placed from the roots to the tips for a uniform result. If you’ve ever achieved envy-ridden natural highlights from a sunny holiday, and somehow managed to avoid the simultaneous damage from sea and sun, then you’re on the right track with what the balayage look achieves. 

The harsher lines of highlighted hair mean that regrowth lines are more noticeable compared with balayage, which looks more natural longer term. One of the best reasons for opting for a balayage treatment is that the hair blends seamlessly with your natural colour as it grows, adding depth and a longer-lasting finish.

What is the difference between ombre and balayage?

Ombre is a two-tone hair colour, which is usually darker at the roots and gets lighter throughout the mid-section to the tips. The ombre technique produces a gradient of colour, where all the ends are highlighted and lighter in tone, whereas balayage is not applied to all the tips, so the final effect is more natural. Ombre is striking and definitely looks like a salon achieved look, whereas balayage is more akin to how you wish your hair would look naturally.

Does balayage only work on light hair?

With balayage, the possibilities are almost endless, which means it’s a technique that can be applied to blonde, brunette, dark or red hair – and any shade in between. If you have lighter or blonde hair, you can achieve results faster in fewer sessions than dark hair.

Dark hair will result in a warm-toned balayage that will frame your face with soft highlights. Colours that work well on very dark hair are caramel or chocolate tones – or for the more adventurous, try a spicy red. Before you choose a colour, speak to your colourist who will advise you on the best hue to match your skin tone.

One of our favourite reasons to choose a balayage treatment on dark hair is that you can lighten your hair in stages to achieve the effect you want and build up a natural-looking depth to the colour over several applications. You can also live for the seasons, with delicately subtle changes.

How to maintain balayage hair

Balayage hair is easier to maintain than a full head of foils, as the painted-on highlights blend softly without the tell-tale regrowth line. This means you can go a little longer between touch-ups and makes balayage kinder to your hair – and your purse. And yes, if life just gets too busy between treatments, you won’t wake up everyday cursing your roots. It’s a practical solution, as well as a beautiful one.

Here are our top tips for maintaining balayage hair:

1. Keep your balayage hair hydrated

Highlighted hair can become more porous than the rest of your mane, so it’s important to take good care of balayage hair. Especially if it’s exposed to chlorine or the sun’s UV rays. Keep your locks hydrated by using a weekly hair mask designed for coloured hair to nourish your colour and keep moisture locked in. Think hydration and all will be well.

2. Don’t shampoo too frequently

After your balayage treatment, we’d recommend waiting at least two days before washing your hair – and then shampoo every two or three days, rather than daily. This will ensure it looks its best for the longest possible time.

To enhance the shine of your balayage, choose a sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for coloured hair. Use warm water (rather than hot) when rinsing your tresses. Try a purple shampoo if your balayage colour is blonde, to keep your highlights shiny and fresh-looking.

3. Use heat protection products

If you’ve finished your balayage with a glossing treatment, take extra care when using heat to style your hair, as high temperatures can reduce its shine. Always use a heat-protecting spray and set your blow-dryer to its coolest settings to maintain healthy-looking locks. The trick is to save heat styling for when you really need it, and not use it every day.

Book your balayage treatment at home

The balayage technique is a trend that is sticking around for a long time. So if you want to achieve a low maintenance colour that will never go out of style then balayage is a good bet. After all, what’s not to love about hand-painted highlights that look more natural, lessen harsh regrowth lines and soften your roots in comparison to traditional highlights?

Our professional mobile colourists are experts in bespoke balayage techniques to give you the ultimate in sun-kissed tresses. Book your balayage treatment with a Secret Spa stylist, who will visit you in your home where you’ll feel relaxed, and achieve glossy, natural-looking highlights that will look fabulous from root to tip.

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