Posts Tagged ‘balayage’

Top 6 Summer Hair Color Trends

by Trash Talk with Anna Craig on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Summer has just begun and we are already sizzling with hot hair styles this year. We are all so busy traveling, working, going here, there and everywhere, but we still need to look good. Here are some hair color trends to look out for during the hot summer days.


Sometimes called “he art of hair painting,” balayage is highlighting without foils and it gives you more of a sun-kissed, natural look. You can go longer between appointments and you do not get the streaky effect that comes with using foils. This technique is great for curly hair; it brings out the definition of each curl. If you are looking for a more dramatic and light look, this technique is not for you.


First of all, what is the ombre? This color style consists of dark roots and gradually lightened ends with the Balayage (hair painting) technique, giving a very sun-kissed look. This style can also be done very drastically for a more dramatic result. The ombre is great for any hair length or texture and it is very easy to maintain because you can go longer in between appointments. This look started with more of a caramel or blonde tip but now clients are requested different colored ends like reds and punk colors, which brings us to the next look.

Dip Dye

The dip dye is a variation of the ombre. It consists of the dark root and the lightened ends, but the ends are also colored in a “punk” color. Try to achieve the watercolor affect for a subtler look or, if you’re just experimenting, the chalking affect for a temporary approach. This has quickly become all the rage with celebrities.

Punk Colors

Everywhere you look now women are showing up with fun colors in their hair; it has definitely gone mainstream. Pinks, blues, purples, greens…you name it, we will wear it! Put a little or a lot in your hair, make it subtle or make it pop. The school districts do not usually allow the kids to wear it during the school year, so kids are coming into the salon like crazy to get it done for the summer.


Reds have definitely been big this year; our salon even ran out of copper one week because the demand was so high. Go bold and do a bright copper all over or keep it simple and add a few copper streaks to your highlights. Whatever you choose, the copper color is sure to brighten up your look and style. My favorite look is allover chocolate brown with a copper highlight. The look pops and is still natural with a hint of brightness.

Baywatch Blonde

There is a huge request right now for the Pamela Anderson Bleach Blonde look. This bold and bright look requires a little more maintenance; you should be in the salon about every four weeks to keep it perfect. The root needs to be bleached to perfection to make sure there is no brassiness left in the hair and you need to use a purple shampoo to maintain the perfect level of violet. This look is for that client who can never get their highlight heavy enough or just wants that perfect pale blonde.

How to Color Curls, Kinks and Waves

by Tracey on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

As the texture revolution seriously takes hold, clients with curls are on the prowl for texture-savvy stylists who can transform their hair sans straightening.

Women seek cuts specifically designed for their curls, and to complement these cuts, they want color tailored to highlight their hair’s natural texture and beauty. Clients know their own unique texture and expect their stylists to feel comfortable and confident in working with it.

“In our multicultural world, clients can have many types of hair textures ranging from waves, curls and kinks,” say Matrix Artistic Directors Brian and Sandra Smith. “You must consider amount of curl, curl pattern, porosity, condition and whether hair has been chemically treated before highlighting textured hair,” say the Smiths.

Are you up to the task of coloring these varieties of texture? Because of the structure of curly hair, achieving good color results can be a challenge. But when used correctly, color can be one of the best tools to create a new look for clients with textured hair.

Highlighting How-To

Textured hair is naturally drier and more porous, which may cause color not to process into the anticipated shade.

“Semipermanent is the way to go for curly hair,” says Morgan Willhite, lead stylist and creative director at Ouidad Santa Monica salon. “If you are using permanent color on curly hair the color may come out darker than expected because porous hair absorbs more color.”

The Smiths agree and recommend Matrix’s Color Sync (a demipermanent gloss) to add color and a boost of shine to make curls look healthy.

Color applied to curly hair often looks different than color applied to straight hair, since curly hair diffuses light. Even newly applied color can look drab and dull.

So what’s the solution for clients who want to add highlights or lowlights to their hair?

“A great technique for wavy or curly hair is balayage,” say the Smiths. “The painted-on technique allows the stylist to apply the color/lightener where the natural refl ectivity would be most prominent on the curl and enhance the natural look of the hair.”

For highlighting, the Smiths use Matrix SoColor Permanent Crème Color or V-Light Powdered Lightener to achieve predictable results. The stylists at Ouidad also employ balayage for their curly clients.

In addition to balayage, The Smiths have identified another technique they and Matrix call “Texture Lights” for hair textures ranging from curly to kinky.

To try this technique, first evaluate the client’s hair visually. Then, select ¼-inch to ¾-inch sections from top layers based on texture and density.

“Then twist the section and paint on color or lightener to the outside of the section using a side-brushing technique on selected areas of the twisted hair,” say the Smiths.

“Holding onto the bottom twist, place a long foil underneath and wrap the section in foil. Continue with selected strands and process, lifting two to three levels. If using Matrix V-Light, Color Sync Demi Permanent Color can be applied after lightening process, for tone and shine.”

Foil with Caution

“Foil highlighting on curly hair has the same considerations needed as with wavy hair,” they say.

“Always make sure the strands you pick up are thick enough to be in proportion to the curl and density of the hair,” the Smiths advise. “Done right, the curl in the hair, and the highlights will work together to enhance the overall look.”

They caution against a weave that is too small, as highlights will get lost in the curl. “But if they’re too big, the effect could appear clownish and very dated.”

Special care should also be taken with processing. “If you allow the color to damage the hair—because you used too strong a developer, or overprocessed the lightening formula — the hair could potentially break in areas,” they say.

Tweaking Your Technique

Because textured hair lives in motion, a full color from roots to ends is not necessary to achieve the highlighted look. In fact, a subtle ombre highlighting, where the lighter color is applied more heavily to the midlengths and ends is better suited for textured tresses.

“Because it looks more natural, clients don’t need touch-ups as often,” says Willhite. “When you don’t touch it up, you don’t over process the ends.”

Avoiding over processing the hair, and thus avoiding drying it out even further, is key for curly hair health and will ensure the client can recreate the salon look without frizz caused from damage.

To become your curly client’s highlighting hero, become an expert in coloring her unique texture. Training classes and online videos are available— talk to your color manufacturer or visit for more information on classes.

“Many stylists don’t know how to baliage or how to do it well—it’s an art,” says Willhite. “You have to get training. There are classes, and videos will help. I’ve been doing it for years and it is definitely an art you have to master.”

Curly Cues

Not sure how to handle curls and kinks when it comes to color? Follow these six tips from Matrix Artistic Directors Brian and Sandra Smith for curl-coloring success.

1. Curly hair often appears less shiny and healthy because the cuticle is more raised and the twists and turns of the hair strands only reflect light from the arcs of the curls. Because of this, avoid using flat shades on curly hair, which will result dull color and minimize shine.

2. Know how to analyze and color texture. Examine the texture, porosity, condition and color possibilities before the color service.

3. Always rinse and shampoo hair with cool water. This helps close the cuticle and prevent color fading.

4. Use care when coloring and lightening curly hair due to potential damage to the weaker areas along the strands. It’s a good idea to apply deep conditioner prior to and after coloring curly hair.

5. Foil highlighting on wavy hair isn’t so different than with straight hair. The techniques are the same, but you must gauge the thickness of the weave for coloring or lightening to be in balance with the wave of the hair. If you use weaves that are too thin, the results get lost in the waves. However, when the weaves are too thick, the results can look streaky and outdated.

6. To keep hair in tip-top shape and prevent excessive fading, recommend a personal hair care regimen with specific shampoo and conditioners for color-treated hair.

Balayage Basics

Morgan Willhite, lead stylist and creative director at Ouidad Santa Monica, shares her balayage tips for success:

• Be sure the mixture is thick so it doesn’t drip down the hair.
• Don’t paint with the tip of the brush, paint with the side for natural fading.
• Use a color or lightener that has buffers and use a lower volume if possible.
• Determine the desired shade, and then go half a shade lighter, or even a whole shade, to get the desired result.
• Highlight the sections of curl as they naturally form. If you brush out the hair before you highlight, you will only separate the natural sections more.
• Have clients deep condition or use a protein treatment before they come in, or do it right before coloring at the salon to help with the porous nature of the curls—the color will hold better if you do.
• Advise clients to never use a protein treatment right after highlighting, as it can strip the color.
• Never reprocess the ends. In between treatments, use color glosses and glazes on curly hair. Make sure it is a no-color gloss — it coats and adds a lot of shine, plus it helps control frizz and give the hair a healthy overall look.

Hot Summer 2011 Hair Trends

by Trash Talk with Anna Craig on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

From coast-to-coast, hair extensions and faded color is all the rage this season. Here’s a look at two hot summer 2011 hair trends.

Hot Summer 2011 Hair Trends

Hilary Duff

Feather Hair Extensions

Right now you cannot go anywhere without seeing people with feather hair extensions. You can dress them up or dress them down which makes them very versatile. They’re also huge at all the schools because the kids can get away with them; schools haven’t outlawed them because they’re a hair accessory. They can be washed, blow dried, curled, and flat ironed, and are safe for hair since they attach with a simple hair extension clamp.

You care for feather hair extensions just like a regular hair extension. The feathers come in all lengths, colors, sizes, and designs. However, if you’ve ever tried to order some for your salon, you’ll find out that they’re sold out almost everywhere. My salon was even approached by another salon to see if they could buy ours! But if you’re lucky enough to order some, you know that there are slim pickings right now because of the high demand. Feather hair extensions started out as fly fishing feathers from roosters, peacocks and various other birds. The poor fishermen are probably a little peeved at all the crazy hair stylists out there buying their stock.

Hot Summer 2011 Hair Trends

Jessica Biel

Ombre Hair Color

Ombre hair color, reverse highlights, or balayaging or whatever you call it is also hot this year. Jessica Biel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore, Hillary Duff are some of the celebrities who have been rocking this look for a while. This look means having a grown-out bleachy and dark-to-light fade of hair color, with the root starting dark and gradually lightening to the ends.

This look is achieved by coloring halfway up the hair strand to create a natural, sun-kissed highlight. Foils cannot be used because they will cause the hair to look too streaky. If the hair has previous highlights and the highlights are too high up on the hair shaft, you will have to create a dark root by coloring the roots to the midshaft their natural color, and sweeping the color down almost half way. Then you will have to go back and color the midshaft to create a natural highlight and to break up the line. Ombre hair color is more economical for many clients because they are able to go between appointments a lot longer.

Antonio Gonzales: Sun-Kissed Curls for the Spring

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, April 19th, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

See Antonio’s blog here.

On my recent trip to Trinidad and Tobago, I worked with many of my clients who mainly have curly hair. Some of them are teenagers who had never color their hair before. I know this is a novelty for hair stylists like myself with a clientele where over 80% invest in hair color. While chatting and snipping with these island beauties to my heart’s delight, I took the time to really study the “sun-kissed” tresses and how the beach, sun and wind effects the natural hair color. The colors moved through the hair with almost no beginning and no end. Let me explain: The lighter pieces almost danced through the hair with really no point of origin. In other words, at no point could I identify highlights or low lights. I knew they were there but they certainly did not look like a foiled or over-baliaged hair color. The lighter pieces sparkled and the depth supported the lighter pieces beautifully. The one advantage that these girls had was the knowledge of looking after their hair with the right hair care products. This certainly has helped the hair from being too damaged by the sun and supported the beautiful results from the sun.

Here are some color techniques that can help you achieve the sun-kissed color that these young ladies take for granted.

1. I would recommend not foiling any rich brunettes with highlights this summer; I say baliage them all the way! As clients look through magazines desiring those sparkling curls, baliage is the only thing to achieve the highlights that has “no beginning and no end” When the hair is dark and you foil the hair, the pattern really makes it look un natural. Remember the foil is square and the head is round, so the baliage is far more natural because you will have far more ability to apply color sparingly.

2. On medium brown brunettes who are getting highlights, do not only paint from roots to ends. On some areas, paint from mid-shaft to end, alternating with fine strokes and thicker strokes. This will help create the effect of a burst of color from the hair, almost distracting the eye from seeing where the color begins. For example: When you look at the inside of a hibiscus, the color starts off at one shade and gradually changes shade within the same color family.

3. For the clients with faded, medium-brown hair that you may have to low light, try alternating the low lights from roots to end and mid-shaft to end. Remember that depth does not have to be from the roots through to the ends. I often avoid the roots when I am creating low lights. When working from the mid-shaft, stay away from colors that are too dark, like levels four or five on hair that’s level seven or eight. Work with low lights that are up to one a half to two levels darker than the existing color.

4. If you are primarily a colorist, work closely with the person cutting the client’s hair. Have the hair cut done first, then study the cut well before painting the hair. This way you can see the fresh layers around the face and through out the hair and add light bits where needed. This can work to the fullest advantage for the colorist and the cutter. Can you image your fresh cut fringe with lighter tips connecting with other bits through the hair? This is where our ego must get out of the way and we commit to working as a team to make the client even happier. Remember two heads are better than one.

5. If you have a client that’s a faded brunette and is in need of more lowlights than highlights, foil the hair rather than painting it. This way, the lowlights are more aggressive and not too delicate, providing better coverage. I also recommend using two different browns, which will give better contrast and create a look that is more interesting with results that are believable. Remember the goal is sun-kissed curls!

6. If you are low lighting with foils, try baliaging the high lights. Rules, mules, shmules. My motto is, if breaking the rules will give fabulous results, well, what are you waiting for? This is achieved by doing your chunky low lights with foils, followed with a delicate baliage of highlight. As you baliage, place strips of cotton to protect the highlighted hair both beneath and on top of the section of painted highlight. This will prevent bleeding due to the pressure of the foil. Sounds like a lot of work, but as mama used to say; short-cut work gives short-cut results.

I wish you and your client great results.

Antonio’s View: Is Balayage or Foiling Better for Curly Hair?

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, February 22nd, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

See Antonio’s blog here.

Every day in the salon when I work with clients and their curls, this is a concern frequently expressed. So I felt this was the perfect forum to answer this question for all our readers.

First, allow me to distinguish between these two methods.


Balayage is a hair-coloring technique likened to painting. The word itself is French for “to sweep,” a reference to the “sweeping” motion of the brush while applying color to the hair. If you look at curly hair in the sunlight, the one thing that catches your eyes is the ability of the curls to reflect light in certain areas.

When coloring curls, I love to recreate this effect in the hair. It’s almost as though the colors are dancing through it, which makes sense since balayage is a French word with Latin roots (no pun intended)—“ballare” is Latin for dance.


Most women who have had their hair highlighted or low-lighted have had foils in their hair. It’s a very normal process using aluminum foils to apply color in sections throughout the hair in order to create brightness and dimension.

Balayage for Curly Hair

Being a “foil man,” I feel that there is a woman for either technique. However, for curly hair, balayage is certainly the best for many different reasons.

When I balayage, I can work with the shape of the head and the face, carefully taking thin sections of hair from the head as I proceed.

Keep in mind that the head is round, but foils are square.

I can choose the size of highlights as I go through the hair and I can place them close to each other, be they thick or thin.

Foiling is not as versatile, and if you attempt to use different sizes per foil, it’s not nearly as natural. I can use different colors and place them right next to each other. It’s a more natural way to get “sparkle” in the hair color by creating dimension.

With foils, I am limited to safely working with one color per foil.

For a brunette going lighter, I can avoid the immediate hairline and the hair part while painting the hair. Then, as it grows, there is almost no visible root line. You can then wait up to four months before your next application.

Foils can be too intense in the wrong hands.

I will conclude now with a question I get all the time—is balayage damaging to the hair?

My answer remains the same—“as with foils, it all depends on the hairstylist.”

I wish you and your clients beautiful curls!

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