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  • Writer's pictureKristen Linares


Balayage is the infamous term that’s often mispronounced by clients everywhere and either feared or adored by colorists. The word, balayage is a French word that means “sweeping” and the name of the technique was derived from the long sweeping strokes of applying color to the hair. Most challenges with this application arise from a misinterpretation during the consultation. Clients don’t fully understand that balayage isn’t necessarily a look, but more so a method of lightener application. Stylists who lack experience can be easily intimidated by a balayage request and provide subpar results that could have been avoided had they used a foil, thermal wrap, or other method of encapsulating the hair instead of this free-hand method. There are certain situations where a balayage technique will indeed produce the look that your clients are asking for, however in some cases, using a traditional foil or insulation method is best. Read on to find out when to hand paint, and when to insulate for the best results.


  • The client wants sun-kissed highlights or the appearance of natural “child-like” highlights that only require 2-3 levels of lift.

  • You’re looking to expose warm, underlying pigments to create a vibrant red or ginger tone.

  • The client wants ribbons of color that grow out softly, as they only come into the salon one – two times a year.

  • You want to refresh or brighten the mids and ends of preexisting highlights.

  • The client is a single process color and you want to add in a few face framing pieces during the base processing time and tone everything after the base and highlights are rinsed out.


  • The client wants icy, cool platinum results and their starting level is a 7 or darker.

  • The client absolutely hates warmth.

  • You’re dealing with a color correction and multiple formulas need to be applied on a single section at a time.

  • You don’t have full confidence in your painting abilities. Note: You can achieve a balayage-like appearance within foil sets! (Back to back foils with various application techniques. For example: weave-slice-end light-end light-babylight.

Balayage is also referred to as hand painting. It’s up to you, as the professional colorist to guide and inform your client of the best approach to achieve their desired results. If you're uncertain about their expectations - keep asking questions until you are!

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION LIGHTENER IS KEY Make sure your lightener is the consistency of peanut butter or shaving cream. Everyone has their personal preference, just keep in mind that your mixing ratio controls the amount of lift you will achieve. Depending on your lightening system, you may want to opt for 30 vol straight away. Once lightener dries out it stops working, so if your developer works faster you will achieve a better lift. MONITOR YOUR PROCESSING Always use your best judgement when you are initially analyzing the health of the hair to maintain the integrity. Time your processing and check it often. Always do a scratch test to see if your color

is processed, as the lightener can be misleading in appearance. CHOOSE THE BEST HAIRCOLOR TOOLS Product Club’s Balayage Film, Contoured Meche Strips, and Curved Thermal Balayage Strips are all incredible tools to encapsulate the balayage and retain heat for a better, more even lift. Find a brush, board, and gloves you’re most comfortable with and start painting! Product Club has a wide array of tools to suit your needs and preferences. Once you have the right tools and a true understanding of the balayage technique and the look it will produce, you are on your way to creating beautiful, hand-painted hair color!

Follow Kristen ( and Product Club (@productclub) for more expert tips on social media, salon ownership, and hair color education!

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