Balayage 101: Q&A With Luke Hersheson, UK Creative Director of John Frieda

If you can’t get an appointment with a celebrity hairdresser – let him come to you. Here’s Luke's advice on how to achieve the perfect Balayage ‘do whatever your hair type...

Do you have to grow out existing foil colour before Balayage?

The ease of balayage is it can go over existing colour. The technique itself is about working with the colour of your hair, as highlights are applied from the mid-lengths downwards. A colourist can also refresh roots with natural balayage colour and cover up any greys.

How long does it take to do in the salon?

As balayage involves lightly hand-painting the surface of the hair, it depends on how many highlights you are opting for. A simple few highlights can take 45 minutes whereas a layered balayage can take up to three hours. Book in for a consultation with your colourist to discuss the best option for you, and they can advise how long the process will take.

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What to ask your stylist for?

The best balayage starts with a good cut – which ultimately creates an ideal base for adding balayage to suit your features better. Your stylist will be able to advise the best cut and shape for your face. Don’t be afraid to show your stylist some images of your new hair inspiration and discuss the best shade of highlights to work with your natural colour and skin tone.

Does Balayage always have to be blonde?

Not at all. If you’ve never coloured hair before, balayage is the ideal option for upgrading your hair colour. Although blonde balayage is the go-to shade, you can experiment with most colours and incorporate a mix of multi-tonal shades to add depth and texture to hair for an effortlessly cool look.

What is the maintenance?

As balayage grows out naturally, it takes a lot less maintenance than a traditional full head of colour. In between salon visits - which are usually between 12-14 weeks - look after your balayage with conditioning colour care products such as the Sheer Blonde Highlight Moisturising Shampoo or the Brilliant Brunette Radiance Multi-Tone Revealing Shampoo. Avoid the tone turning brassy with a purple shampoo such as the John Frieda Colour Renew Shampoo. As balayage involves bleaching hair, it’s essential to maintain healthy hair with a weekly deep conditioning treatment. Apply a repairing mask such as the Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Deep Conditioner, concentrating on the ends to return severely distressed hair to a healthy, smooth state.

How does it differ from traditional highlights?

Balayage is a softer, more natural looking result than traditional foil highlights. Re-growth lines are less noticeable, and the lines are more delicate, creating a sun-kissed look that recreates a few weeks in the sun.

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How do you choose a hue to suit your skin tone?

Your stylist will be able to advise the perfect colour to suit your skin tone, and a good colourist will be able to find the right hue for you. Pull together some images to show your stylist what you are looking for, and they will be able to work out what is best:

  • Fair: Blonde, red, and light brown or dark brown balayage will work best with this skin tone.
  • Medium: Avoid any light colours that can wash out the skin. Stick to warm blondes and soft browns if you want a lighter hue. The ideal colours for you would be chocolate browns and reds. If you want to experiment with the colour, cool shades like blues or purples will suit best.
  • Dark: Shades of warm or ashy blonde, caramel and light colours beautifully complement darker skin tones.

Last word… What is the difference between ombre, sombre and balayage?

Both ombre (meaning to shade) and sombre is a two-toned look that is darker at the roots, fading to lighter at the ends. It can be quite a distinct difference (as in ombre); while sombre is a natural version of this, blending more seamlessly.

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