Balayage is a French word, meaning ‘sweeping’. It’s a natural-looking alternative to highlights. It’s created by hand-painting highlights, creating a natural lightness at the ends. The technique can vary – some stylists separate the hair into strands with pieces of cotton, others use foil. The main technique is the hand-painting of the strands, allowing stylists to be very precise with placement.
There are some differences between balayage, ombré, and sombré. Ombré is a little more dramatic and edgy than balayage, with a bigger difference between the roots and tips. Sombré is a very soft transition from dark to light, with the ends only a couple of levels lighter than the roots – this is a very subtle look.
Balayage creates beautiful dimension to hair, and it still looks natural even as it grows out – which is why some prefer it to highlights. As the focus is on the ends rather than the roots, it looks very natural. It adds texture and depth to short hair and prevents long hair from looking too heavy or bulky.
Celeb Balayage Inspo
Not sure if you want to try balayage? We’ve created a list of celebrities who rock balayage for inspiration, so you can check it out for yourself!
Jessica Biel – Balayage is not just for blondes. Her long brunette hair is enhanced with lighter ends, opening up her face to create a flattering look.
Ciara – You can use balayage to create a dramatic look, too. She has chosen to pair dark roots with light tips, for a striking, stylish effect.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – Rosie’s beautiful blonde hair looks even brighter with subtle balayage, making her look even more glowing and glamorous than usual!
Olivia Wilde – There is quite a dramatic change in colour from Olivia’s roots to the tips, but the gradient is very subtle. The warm colour at the ends creates a flattering look.
Jessica Alba – If you want to go for the very natural look, follow Jessica’s example – she has gone for a very subtle gradient, but it lifts her hair and gives the colour more depth.
Lily Aldridge – This is a prime example of how natural balayage looks even when roots begin to regrow. Lily’s roots are dark, but the lighter shade at the tips still looks natural.
Jennifer Lopez – If you want honey-blonde hair, this is a great example. The blonde in Jennifer’s hair is naturally placed where the light hits it – creating a sun-kissed look.
January Jones – January’s hair is blonde all over, but there is a subtle lightening of her hair at the ends, adding shine and glamour to her bobbed hair.
Lucy Hale – Balayage can work well on shorter hair, too. Lucy’s blonde tips help to give her a wonderful glow.
Jessica Biel – Jessica’s blonde accents flatter her face perfectly – they enhance her beautiful face shape and add warmth to her hair.
Selena Gomez – Selena’s look is very subtle – with a touch of caramel framing her face, it looks natural and gives her a lovely glow.