5 Reasons You Should Try Balayage Instead of Highlights

·4 min read

Have highlights? Consider opting for balayage next time you color your hair. A technique that's become more and more popular, this involves the colorist hand-painting on the color in a freehand manner rather than following a set pattern and placement of foils, explains Patrick Ryan, colorist and co-owner of Mixed Co. Salon in Chicago. It not only makes for a much more natural end result, but also offers lots of other benefits. First and foremost: Less upkeep. "Anytime you highlight using foils you get a very defined line of demarcation when the roots grow in. With balayage, that straight line isn't there, so any regrowth is much less apparent," says Lucille Javier, colorist at the Sally Hershberger|Tim Rogers Salon in New York City.

The bottom line: You'll be able to stretch out your salon visits, since as your hair grows in, darker roots will be much less noticeable (talk about a time- and money-saver). Plus, this technique is also less damaging. "Not only are you coloring less frequently, but also less of the hair is exposed to the dye than it is with foils, minimizing the likelihood for damage," Ryan says.

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While balayage is typically associated with blonde balayage, it can be done on any hair color, even those looking to conceal grays, Javier says. Just keep in mind that even if you typically go DIY with your hair color, this particular technique is best reserved for the pros. "It's tricky to create that hand-painted effect on yourself, especially when it comes to being able to reach the back of your head," notes Javier. Here are five celebrities who can offer some balayage inspiration before you hit the salon.

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1. It Brightens Your Face

Gisele Bündchen's hair is an example of classic balayage, says Ryan. "The blonde pieces are bright and sunny, but because they don't go all the way to her roots, they will grow out nicely." Be sure to ask your colorist for those lighter, face-framing pieces, which will brighten your entire face and make your skin and eye color pop, adds Javier.

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2. It Works for Light and Dark Hair Colors

Positive proof that brunette doesn't have to be boring, Jessica Biel's subtle balayage on dark hair softens the overall brown color and adds visual interest, says Ryan. "This is a great option for someone who is low-maintenance," Javier says. "The color is painted only from the mid-shaft to the ends and would take about 30 minutes to do."

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3. It's Low-Maintenance

A flat iron can give you beachy waves in minutes, but your hair color is what will really bring the look home. "This sun-kissed color will make you look like you just came back from a beach vacation," Javier says, who suggests asking for staggered, lighter pieces starting at your cheekbone. Olivia Wilde's balayage hair also requires minimal upkeep; with color like this, you'd only have to come into the salon once or twice a year, Ryan says.

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4. It Works on All Hair Types

If your hair is short and/or textured like Chrissy Teigen's, balayage color is a great way to play up and accentuate the style, says Ryan. (And yes, it can be done on all types of hair textures, even coarse or ethnic.) Ask your colorist to place the color so that it best complements your cut.

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5. It's Perfect for Hiding Grays

"Balayage is a nice option for someone with darker hair who wants to add some blonde but still keep it looking natural," Javier explains. Take a look at Jennifer Lopez's lightened-up locks. Keeping the natural tone on the root makes the end result more subtle and less in-your-face, she adds. The other benefit of keeping the lighter pieces lower down? If you happen to have some grays pop up and aren't quite ready to embrace the "grombre" hair trend, you can easily cover them up without having to do a whole head of highlights.