Updated: Feb 28, 2020
The word "balayage" is a derivative of the French verb "balayer" and it means "to sweep" or "to paint". In the hair world balayage is a freehand highlighting technique, that gives a graduated, natural-looking effect with no obvious regrowth lines.
The main principle of balayage is "Less is More". Using patches of light and shade, the technique creates a natural, multi-dimensional look of your hair. The "sweeping" freehand movement creates a longer and smoother color transition. Unlike traditional highlights, balayage doesn't use foil or meche, but is "painted" vertically on the surface of the hair strand and not saturated through the section until the very tips.
The maintenance of balayage is probably one of it's biggest and most important characteristics, that differentiates it from other techniques - it grows out beautifully, just adding your natural shades in the mix. That's a definite choice-maker, especially for the women who would like some rest for their hair in between colorings.
A common mistake is confusing the balayage for an ombre. Ombre, meaning "shaded" in French, is the gradual blending of one color hue to another. The color transition is shorter and more noticeable, with full saturation of the section, and horizontal application. In other words: Ombre is more of a style, Balayage is a technique.
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