Post DisclaimerThis is featured on our balayage page but was written originally in 2010 when blogging was more popular than posting. The “ombre” look was just getting popular, later when it peaked around 2015 we spent a lot of time explaining: balayage is a “technique” ombre is a “look”, but two different things. Now balayage is more common. That is partially why corrective color is on the rise.  Freehand color like balayage is less structured, so there is more room for error. Unfortunately my prediction of corrective color becoming a regular service proved true, making this post even more relative today. BTW we have before & after photos now 😉

Original 2009 Post:

 Hi readers! Today’s topic is BALAYAGE. Sometimes referred to as Biolage, but that’s a shampoo brand friends! Haha, it’s ok! We hear lots of different terms for this newer (at least to KC) service. It’s actually been around a very long time, but alas things move slowly trend wise to the midwest from the East and West Coast :/

Check out this example of a common situation we see in our salon. This client received a balayage highlight elsewhere, then came to us for help from us to fix the color. Many of our new balayage clients have been to area salons who said they were “balayage specialists”. First of all, I’ve made it my business to know who does what I do, and who does it well! There’s a suspicious amount of “master stylists’ anyways, but since the beginning of this new era of color, WHOA. There are like thousands in Kansas City and in 2005 there were like TEN.

Back to this client, she also told the stylist was “master”.  I don’t think she was necessarily inexperienced with color, just balayage. Based on what I saw on the clients hair and personal experience, it takes more focus than traditional color does “to master”.  

Master Stylist Phenomnom

If I were a client seeking color in general, I would think all salons probably know color equally. False. With balayage, there is a whole new area of color work evolving- SPECIALTY WORK.This technique is unique and in the last 2 years clients have come to our salon seeking color corrections from lots of ‘master” stylists, more so now with balayage and ombre. The more stylists & salons use “masters” to describe their level of work, the more confused people become. Even in our industry younger stylists are confused. Older stylists who’ve never seen a real master stylist work are confused as well. It’s OUR job to inform YOU so in the area of being clear about the term master stylists the salon industry is either failing you or tricking you folks, because I’ve been doing balayage for awhile now successfully, I don’t refer to myself as ‘master colorist”.  That will probably change soon. Some of what is advertised online is an inflated perception of ability. Sorry stylists, if you have that on your bio and you actually are, this doesn’t mean you. But many use this title I once thought of as a term for guys like my mentor, way too casually now. I think it’s to gain from balayage popularity. In the next 10 years there will be many spin off color services that are sure to follow. I’ve seen local “master” work in my chair and had to fix it. I recently learned stylists read this and I thank you, but this post is for clients for an inside peek at industry stuff. We all know and I keep it real!

Balayage Before and After

This picture is common of many before and after clients we see. Ombre is hot right now, so I bet balayage will only get more popular. Styles evolve. Ombre is here because two years ago in the crash of 2008 people couldn’t afford regular get highlights. People like appeal of less maintenance so the grown out look became an actual thing. Same with balayage. Client’s want more and more out of their color visits now. I’ve noticed new people want a lot of result in one appointment! Why did this start happening?

fail save

Balayage Fix

Social media! To keep up- stylists say they can do things they may think they can, until they get into the color. I’ve been there early in my career, that “ohh why did I say I could do this?!”  I thought I could until I realized I couldn’t. It’s part of growth. This particular client is Megan’s. She went to a stylist who said she did balayage. She told the client she had been doing color for 15 years. Ok. Megan is 20 , just ended her internship with me, she fixed a color “masters” work.Not the first time either. New rule in our world that’s reality. Salon owners and stylists absorb this or you’re going to be in for rude awakening “experience’ doesn’t mean “specialized’. The photo was taken with my phone and not a camera so its not great! But you can see how the hair color on the left is blotchy and yellow (indicating the color bled and ran on the hair) at the root. She paid $170 (whoa’s) for balayage and did not receive it.   Megan did a highlight and low light with 2 color paddles. She got the sunny, dimensional look the client originally wanted. Unfortunately she had to pay twice. I don’t think salons should refund services because they should fix it. In this case I felt differently. 

.  We see this more and more every year! As social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram becoming more popular with hash tags like #balayage , these incidents are more common. Instagram is new but we are seeing alot of pictures from clients there. That also concerns me for the future of our industry. With sudden information being part of how we display work, I wonder if stylists will accurately describe things. I’ve personally heard of stylists watching a YouTube video about balayage, and call it TRAINING. It’s helpful but not legit training. Real training on quality color education  is rare and hard to come by, especially in the Midwest. A real balayager makes it look simple, which in turn makes a hairdresser think “I can do that”! By nature we like try new things! That’s a good thing. But a stylist who hasn’t received advanced hands on training on this service should not be attempting the technique. It’s a color that you have to do multiple times before offering. Schools may do it in the future, but they don’t now! At all!  I’ve heard inexperienced stylists say “fake it till you make it”. In our salon this industry saying is unacceptable, yet why we fix color.

A Studio 39  balayage colorist interns and trains with me directly. They have to have a natural ability and talent for free hand color work, that falls outside of traditional foiling. Not all have it. It’s a skill for an outside the box thinker because it’s conceptual color, not architecture. Conceptual is more loosely defined with an artistic approach. Architectural is based on head structure and taught in color theory in beauty school. Both are important but they also need good judgment and self confidence to tell a client when this service is not the service for their type of hair.  In 2002 I traveled to New York to learn advanced color. For this method, and I went back in 2003, and again in 2005. I practiced for a year before I felt confident to offer. I made a lot of mannequin heads blotchy haha! Since then I’ve been asked by area salons and beauty supply stores to teach classes on this service. Although I’m flattered, I always decline because it takes more than a seminar to learn this. So I’m sure our  education options in the local industry will decline based on that fact. I hate to say it but signs are all there! It simply cannot be learned or taught in a day. I was shocked to learn large chain salons are teaching this is in day classes now. These are clearly places not owned by a stylist who works behind the chair.  Because of the liability and room for error with this service, I would never have an inexperienced stylist to perform this service on my salon floor. These places might be o.k. to purchase a hair brush or nail file, but not for refined or technically challenging coloring techniques like balayage.

I know that sounds harsh, but we’ve seen the above scenario dozens of times since search words like ombre and balayage have been flying across cyberspace.

Ask these Balayage Questions:

If you book balayage with us, we guarantee your color. We will also tell you if you are not a good candidate for this service. It is naturally warmer and diffused at the root. So if someone is used to power blonde at the root-not for them. Be cautious when booking this service and always ask these questions during a consult:

1. How long has the stylist been doing balayage and where did she/he recieve  training?

2. Do they use a special product designed for balayage?

3. What method do they use? (freehand, paddle, etc.)

Number 3 is important. There are several types of balayage- most colorists just don’t know!

If you do your research you will end up with beautiful highlights that grow out well. If you don’t, you could end up with a corrective situation paying twice what you had panned and be wearing a hat until you get it fixed. Thanks for reading beauty friends!”