Hair trends come and go, but one style we’ve always been obsessed with is balayage. From sunkissed beach girl to glossy minimalist, balayage just works. And whilst it’s been around for years, stylists are always tweaking the timeless style to keep it full of life. In this article, we’re diving into our favourite balayage hair colour ideas as inspiration for your glow-up. Sound like your kind of style? Keep reading for the full low-down on the colour technique that’s got the world in a chokehold.

Balayage Hair Colour: Everything You Need To Know

As with any makeover, understanding your style is a must. Balayage, rooted in the French word for ‘sweep,’ blends shades of light and dark to create a lazy sunlit look. Subtle yet striking, this colouring technique adds depth to any hairstyle and could be the switch-up you’ve been looking for.

What Is Balayage?

Pronounced bah-lee-ahge, balayage differs from other colouring techniques due to its freehand nature. Slowly, the stylist will work around your hair, painting it in a way that might seem careless – spoiler alert: it’s not! In fact, this colouring technique is one of the key reasons balayage has become so popular. Stylists are given the freedom to select the specific strand of hair they want to colour and which they wish to avoid.

Once complete, you can expect natural-looking highlights with a more delicate depth. Think bike rides in the French Rivera and trips to the beach. This technique is ideal for adding soft graduated colour without harsh lines or blocks of colour. Stunning in all shades of hair, not just blonde, there’s a reason balayage is among the most popular colouring techniques around.

balayage in process

Balayage Vs Ombre: What’s The Difference?

Balayage and ombre are often confused despite stark differences in both technique and finish. Ombre, meaning ‘shadow’ in French, is a two-tone colouring technique where the hair’s roots are darker than the tips. The colour separation is clearly visible and can be made with all kinds of combinations, from silver to pink. For ombre inspiration, check out this article in which Glamour take you through their favourite looks.

Where the colour division in ombre hairstyles is horizontal, balayage uses a more free-flowing vertical separation that creates a more natural finish. Balayage affords the stylist more creative freedom than ombre, as there are so many ways to combine the chosen shades and add depth to the hair.

balayage and ombre

How Long Does Balayage Take?

The balayage process can fall anywhere between a quick touch-up and a transformative styling session. With that in mind, it’s impossible to determine how long you’ll spend in the salon without seeing a stylist first. The fab team at Lacy Locks are experts in balayage and can advise you further after popping in for a chat. On average, you can expect a balayage appointment to last between 45 minutes and three hours, depending on the complexity of your desired look.

A partial balayage is always an option, which is often ideal for those wanting to experiment before committing to a complete makeover. During a partial balayage, your stylist will focus on specific sections of your hair rather than dealing with the whole thing. Usually taking between one and two hours, this treatment works for those on a tight timeframe. On the other hand, it’s common for a full balayage to take over three hours. This style of comprehensive makeover requires considerable attention to detail as each strand is hand-painted.

Factors Affecting The Duration Of Your Balayage

  • Hair Thickness: If your hair is more like a lion’s mane, we’ve got bad news for you. Your balayage appointment will likely last considerably longer than those with less thick hair. Your stylist is tasked with meticulously painting each strand of hair, and logically, if there are more strands to paint, it’s going to take longer to do so.
  • Hair Length: Longer hair naturally takes more time to rinse, dry and style. This means those with longer locks can expect to wait longer for their stylist to move on to the next stage of treatment. So, if you’re in your Rapunzel era, prepare for a longer salon session.
  • Starting Hair Colour And Desired Colour: The colour of your hair before the balayage plays a huge role in determining how long your treatment will take, particularly for dark-to-light transformations. The darker your starting tone, the more time it will take to gradually lighten it. Sometimes, stylists will recommend multiple sessions to avoid damaging the hair.

finished balayage

Balayage Hair Colours

Now that you’ve had a chance to understand the balayage basics, let’s take a look at some of our favourite looks. From dark tones to light blondes, these styles combine that ‘woke up like this’ look with an elegant chic that’s only possible with balayage.

Browns For Days

This balayage has been perfectly executed on thick, curly hair, resulting in deep layers of brown. It’s clear balayage doesn’t require lighter tones to provide a striking finish. The colour in this model’s hair was added weeks before this image, demonstrating the lasting beauty of a balayage treatment.

Killer contrast

This style is an excellent example of how effective contrasting tones can be in balayage. The darker roots perfectly complement the sandy tones towards the tips. The volume in this model’s hair showcases the depth in colour a balayage provides.

Beachy Blonde

Even with shorter hairstyles, the depth of a balayage is limitless. This model is serving windswept days at the beach, and we’re here for it. A balayage still allows the striking blonde to shine while the darker tones add a completely new dimension.

Lights, Camera, Balayage

If you thought balayage was made for an effortless look, think again. This style’s versatility means it works just as well when you’re all glammed up. The depth of this model’s chestnut tones is a real showstopper.

Less Is More

This model is rocking a partial balayage, but it’s just as striking. Effortlessly stylish, the lighter brown tones give you that holiday feeling, even when you’re stuck in the cold.

Supermodel Style

Kaia Gerber’s hair always looks healthy and glossy, and that’s, in part, due to her balayage. The shimmering nutty tones are the perfect partner to her darker roots. Whilst we can’t promise a balayage will give you those supermodel genes, it’s a great place to start.

Make It Your Own

Balayages don’t come much more iconic than Hailey Bieber’s face-framing locks. Styled to perfection with her signature waves, her natural blonde tones are paired with light brown shades to create a finish you’ll find yourself getting lost in.

Lived-in Locks

This balayage gives that lived-in look that can be so difficult to achieve. The contrasting warm tones add so many different dimensions to a style that will last you months.

How To Look After Balayage Hair

Once you’ve left the salon, you’ll be asking yourself, ‘How can I keep my hair looking this good?’ The key is to follow a hair care routine that will protect your luscious locks from anything that life might throw your way. As with any hair colouring treatment, your new shades will eventually fade. However, the natural fade of a balayage allows new tones to come through, meaning your hair will continue to have that wow factor months after your treatment.

The first step in preserving your balayage happens before your treatment begins. Balayage is most effective when applied to healthy hair. Therefore, in the months leading up to your appointment, you should use moisturising treatments or fortifying shampoos to ensure your hair retains all the moisture it can. If you’ve got hair extensions in preparation for your balayage, try out some conditioner for hair extensions to ensure your hair is in the best possible condition before treatment.

Following your balayage treatment, you can use toner to prolong the vibrancy of your newly coloured hair. It’s also important to use shampoo and conditioner that will not counteract the toner’s effects and damage your hair. If you’ve got hair extensions, remember to use shampoo for hair extensions so they’re looked after, too. Use shampoos that have natural oils, and try to use moisturising hair masks weekly for a natural shine.

Try to resist the temptation to overwash your hair in the days following your treatment, as this will dry out your hair and leave it damaged. If you’re heading on holiday, remember that sun, sea and swimming pools will also leave your hair dry.

hair washing

Preparing For Your Balayage

If you’re anything like us, you’re fully on board with the balayage hype by now. The next steps are preparing your hair for its treatment and getting an appointment booked in. At Regal Envy, we believe all hairstyles should be accessible to everyone, so if you’re looking to add some volume to your hair before your balayage, try our extensions made entirely from human hair. With hundreds of shades, you’re sure to find something that matches your starting colour or your desired balayage tone.

With our oil for hair extensions, you can be sure your hair is at its healthiest following your balayage. Packed with nutrients, our argon oil will prolong the life of your new colours and give you that fresh-out-the-salon feel each and every day.