What is a balayage?

There are many styles and techniques for colouring hair – and whilst you’ve probably seen, and can recognise them all, you may not be aware of which technique is which. One of the latest trends that is becoming increasingly popular is Balayage – a free-hand technique of adding colour to your hair, applied from the ends upwards, giving a natural effect.

In order to better understand Balayage, here are some similar techniques and how they differ:


Everybody is aware of the term ‘highlights’ – a long-established hair colouring practice that basically refers to the lightening of your hair’s natural colour, usually achieved by wrapping sections of the hair in foil from the hair tip to the root creating lighter shaded sections of your hair. This can be applied to hair of any colour – brunette, blonde or redhead.


This actually isn’t a technique, but more of a reference to the overall look of your hair shade. The word ‘ombre’ means ‘shaded’ or ‘shadow’, and usually applies to hair that had a gradual lightening from top to bottom. You may see it sometimes referred to as “sombre”.


Its’ name derives from the French for “to sweep” – as stated earlier, balayage is the free hand technique of applying colour by dividing the hair. This practice creates a softer, more consistent and gradual change in colour moving downwards from the root to the tip, so darker to lighter. Different hairdressers may vary in their application of dividing the hair – some with hand alone, others may use foils or, in some instances, even wool.

Whichever technique is used, the end result should be one of a natural look allowing a more authentic and ‘softer’ regrowth.

Benefits of balayage

One of the advantages of balayage is its’ versatility – it works on the majority of hairstyles. Whereas, for example, highlights are more effective with longer styles or cuts, balayage is equally effective with a long style or with short, pixie style cuts. Balayage has a lifting effect on shorter cuts, creating volume and adding layers, not easily achieved with other colouring techniques.

Hair coloured using balayage is also easier to maintain than other styles and therefore lasts longer between treatments – a visit to your salon every four or five months would be sufficient to keep it looking fresh and in great condition. When washing your hair at home, using purple shampoo helps to keep the colour bright and vibrant – avoiding chlorine-based products also helps to maintain the ‘salon look’.

The soft, sun-kissed and natural look you can achieve with balayage makes it a great choice to add colour and vibrancy to your hair, whichever style you wear!

Bibas Hair & Beauty

Mark & Sue Pittman established Bibas Hair & Beauty as their own in 1992. Together they have built a Central London salon which provides both Londoners and visitors from around the world with expert salon services including great haircuts, colours and beauty treatments.

You can view our range of hairdressing and beauty treatments on our new website. For more information please contact us or request an appointment online.