Balayage and Ombre revolutionize your choices for the look
of Del Mar summer sun.

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Don’t you just love that sun kissed effect that life in the sun brings to our minds eye? For this reason nowhere in the world are more foil highlights done than right here on the California coast. But did you know that there is another highlighting technique that has been popular in Europe for close thirty years? That’s right, that Southern California beach look has been perfected in France in the techniques referred to as balayage and ombre. It started out being called “hair painting” because bleach was literally painted on to the top layer of hair with a brush or more often with wide tooth comb, mimicking nature. The problem with the comb technique was that the greatest amount of bleach would end up at the top of the hair strand and little at the ends and in nature the hair gets progressively lighter toward the bottom of the hair strand. The problem with painting bleach on freehand with a brush was sometimes the same, but also effects were often too subtle to satisfy client’s intent. Now we have entered a new era of highlighting and given hair painting a new name balayage and ombre. This means you now have these tools with which to achieve that summer beach effect you love.

  • Balayage
  • Ombre
  • Foil Highlights

Balayage” or “baliage” are just two spelling for the same word and is French meaning “sweeping.” This word refers to the sweeping motion that is used in the freehand painting technique. Only now better techniques have been developed eliminating those earlier shortcomings so that now you can have those beautiful sun kissed highlights without the telltale regrowth that foil highlights have not quite been able to eliminate. The advantage to you is less maintenance. The other advantage is that with this freehand balayage/sweeping technique color can be precisely placed onto the hair in just the right way to accent a haircut’s design.

A variation of balayage is Ombre. If you don’t know the word you probably still know the look because it’s everywhere in the press and is now being seen as the newest trend sweeping Hollywood. Ombre was developed in response to recreating that natural sun bleached look on long hair that leaves hair lighter at the ends than at the root; like nature did it. A look that to be achieved with foil often proved elusive for the average colorist and often required more than one visit. Another reason for Ombre’s popularity is it’s appeal to clients seeking that rooty edgy, grunge quality that is also very now.

So… is all of this making conventional foil highlights obsolete? Maybe some will say yes, but I don’t think so. One area where foil highlights are still this colorist’s tool of choice is whenever brassyness is a problem. No technique is so able to completely eliminate brass in a skilled colorist’s hands like foil. While on the topic of brass I need to mention, it is most important that your colorist use the correct type of bleach, mixed to the perfect consistency. Because in this technique the bleach is intended to sit on top of the hair strand without the protection to underlying hair of foil, it is “IMPERITIVE” that the consistency be right. If the bleach is mixed too stiff it will dry out and not lighten, if it is too moist it will seep into the underlying hair producing that most persistent problem of all in color lightening—“BRASS.” As I am always searching for the perfection in hair color I have done the ombre technique using high lift tint rather than bleach on dark hair. This is another means of controlling that unwanted brass and although it is possible it is far trickier. It requires more time and attention and therefore I do charge more for ombre done with high lift tint than with bleach. The results however I feel are well worth the extra time and fuss required.

Remember if you want significant lightening of the overall color of your hair for this reason, conventional foil highlights may still be the way to go. What if you want to mix both highlights and lowlights?—it all depends. What is my own personal favorite? I use them all but my favorite is to mix it up combining techniques. It is all about control. I use the tinting and highlighting technique that gives me the greatest control in achieving the end my client has in mind. How do you know what is best for your needs ombre, balayage or conventional foil highlights? That is what consultations are for.