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So Why Balayage?

One of my first memories of myself as a child is with snow white hair and a tan in the summertime. I remember we would spend our summers at our beach house in Florida and by the end of the trip my skin would be 5 shades darker and my hair even more snow white.

Nowadays, in the salon, the biggest request is to have “childlike” highlights. My guess is that this is why the highlighting technique “Balayage” has become so popular.

All of those things worked but always had an unpredictable end result. Now, in the salon, the childlike highlights we had as a kid are the number one requested color service. The eye seems to favor coloration that appears natural and something that we would see in nature.

“So what is the difference between balayage highlights and foil highlights?”


This is the number one question I get behind the chair these days. So to answer this I always have someone think back to when we would go to the beach or see a kid just back from vacation with blond hair. All the hair around the hairline was much lighter than the rest and the hair seemed to go from blond pops on top to all of the ends looking much lighter. To me, that look is the classic look of balayage. But let me be clear… balayage is a method of coloring hair and there are tons of techniques within that method. This look is just one of many you can achieve, but it is the one that stands out the most to me. With foil you are coloring a group or section of hair from root to end. With balayage you only paint the surface of the hair and saturate lighter at the root and heavier on the ends. This leads to a more diffused or “easier” grow out and more pop towards the middle of the hair and ends.


If you take a hand full of hair at the top of your head, starting at the root and slowly slide your hand down (go on you know you want to try it), at what point was the hair the thickest? At the root right? So think of highlighting hairs in a section from root to end and then letting it down to mix with the rest. Where would the brightest or most highlights appear?…. At the root. So with foil, very often you get more pop or brightness at the root than at the end. With balayage it’s the opposite. You start with points or diffusion at the root and paint only on the surface. The ends are where you saturate the most. This makes up for the fact that your ends are much thinner than at the root.


Now, are there techniques to achieve more brightness at the ends with foil?… sure, but to me, I prefer the flow and artistic placement of balayage. It’s like painting light reflection onto the hair… and this is why I lean more towards balayage when I am looking for that pop and natural flow. Maybe it’s that it brings me back to the beach in a way… reminds me of those days as a kid with no worries and blonde hair.


~by Joshua Rossignol

Co-owner of Rossi Park

L’Oreal Professionnel Artist

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