Monday, March 9, 2015

The Balayage Affect

Lily Aldridge
I am obsessed with gold highlights & the balayage technique.  Ever since the 90's I've yearned for that sun-kissed beach Elle MacPherson hair - not really possible for someone with very dark brown Polynesian hair, with warm undertones. Or so I thought. 
Elle Macpherson, 1990
I have dabbled with red, black, pink hair, but tried blonde first at age 19 in 1991 - tabby cat caramel coloured streaks. It looked OK - but hardly natural! Throughout the years I persisted with foils, I loved the highlights, but I could never emulate that 'natural' beachy Elle look. When J.Lo hit the scene in late 1999, I marveled at her honey coloured highlighted locks. She had my dream hair colour. She was Latina - surely naturally as dark as me, I thought, so how on earth did she get that look?

J.Lo FHM 1999
J.Lo, 1999
I didn't hear about the balayage technique until 2010. Balayage is a French technique meaning 'sweep', developed in the 70's whereby colour is painted on, as opposed to the old cap method (remember those knitting needle type hooks that pulled your hair excruciatingly through a cap?!) or foils - hours of sitting while your colorist meticulously paints sections of your hair folded into foils & piled up on your head. Balayage is generally applied around the face and the front of the head. As it is painted on freehand, the look is very natural. There are no hard demarcation lines, so this is a very low maintenance look - no harsh regrowth. 

  1. a technique for highlighting hair in which the dye is painted on in such a way as to create a graduated, natural-looking effect.

The Balayage technique is associated with the certain look that it creates - a natural 'beachy' blonde style - highlighted blonde sections framing the face and up to 3/4 of your head in a  freehand, 'piecey' way which looks more natural rather than uniform or streaky. See Giselle, Lily Aldridge, Isabel Lucas, Rachel Bilson, Jessica Biel & Khloe Kardashian below.
Giselle balayage
 Lily Aldridge balayage
Isabel Lucas balayage
 Rachel Bilson balayage

Jessica Biel balayage
 Khloe Kardashian balayage

These are some great balayage looks Kate Moss has rocked over the years.

Kate Moss, British Vogue 2002
  1. Kate Moss Harper's Bazaar Australia, May 2002

Kate Moss, British Vogue June 2013
The balayage technique of painting colour on freehand can also be used to create the striking ombré look, meaning 'shadow' in French. Although both terms seem to be used a lot to are describe both looks, ombré is a less natural, more dramatic two-tone affect - dark roots with a gradual toning that goes much lighter at the ends, as opposed to the highlights being piecey and throughout the head, like balayage. More like Drew Barrymore, Helen Flanagan & Eva Longoria below. Khloe Kardashian has also experimented with ombré.


adjective om·bré \ˈäm-ˌbrā\

Definition of OMBRÉ

:  having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark
— ombré noun

Drew Barrymore ombré

 Helen Fanagan ombré

 Eva Longoria ombré

Khloe Kardashian ombré

I loved Kim Kardashian's blonde balayage incarnation after the birth of baby North. The man responsible is colorist George Papanikolas at Andy Lecompte Salon “She wanted to make a drastic change and was inspired by the Balmain Spanish Vogue models. She had wanted to go blonde for quite some time, so this was perfect. We did very heavy ombré and very heavy highlights. The style is very low maintenance because of the heavy roots."

Kim Kardashian 2013
Apparently she was inspired by this shoot featuring Candice Swanepoel from Vogue Spain.

 Candice Swanepoel by Mariano Vivanco, Vogue Spain April 2013

So what is the right shade of blonde for you? “If you are fair or pale, asks for some golden tones to add vibrancy. If you’re closer to an olive color or have a pink complexion, ask for some ash elements to give your skin a more natural, sun-kissed look.” George Papanikolas. As I am olivey with dark brown hair, I've gone for a pale caramel graduating to ashy blonde balayage.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's écaille look
This year the new colour trend is écaille - or 'tortoiseshell' in French. This means using different shades such as caramel, toffee, amber and honey, as well as blonde for a more multi coloured affect. George Papanikolas explains “Ask for various tones, deeper at the roots and lighter at the ends”. While colour is also graduated from dark to like like ombré, the varied, multiple tones differentiate this look from the ombré
Blake Lively écaille hair, 2013

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