April 25, 2016

Balayage (hair painting) : The Theory That Doesn’t Fly (for me) & Why

The More You Know the Less You FEAR

 balayage  Had 1 more sad story emailed to me about Balayage this week,  this is a topic I have been tap dancing around for the entire time the KS Blog has been in existence. I have been promising forever to address my opinion about the technique. So, while it is not at all what I was planning on writing today, sometimes adapting to my readers, is the smartest decision.

About 18-19 years ago {yep, that’s how old this technique is} I first got wind of BALAYAGE. I can still remember hearing about it, and thought, uh geez……one more “cowboy color” move, I never talked or thought about it again. Once a year – every year, some new “technique’ within the hair color world gets introduced and then proceeds to (almost) always fail. I'm not saying no new hair coloring techniques won't be successful.....but you have to remember that unless a new chemical has been introduced, millions have people have been working on this issue for over 100 years......many brilliant artists and cosmetic chemists have been working and playing on new techniques and art forms....

 This dinghy Balayage is like gum on my shoe ( I hope some of you have learned about my kooky sense of humor -- as well ! ! !This damn Balayage technique is like gum on my shoe and it just won't go AWAY ! ! !  Everything about it makes absolutely no sense, although for interest in the comment section shows that many of you sure are intrigued by it.... can some of you poor souls that fell for it, tell me what intrigued you about it in the first place??? I would love to know what intrigued into this ding-dong procedure….???

Having wondered ‘where’ these quirky little processes  come from, makes me question - - the reason behind them. Within a Colorists world there is always a “new” technique around the corner. That new technique is almost always just a new name for something we already do, which means it is merely the result of the hair world’s > “Marketing-machine”.  In other words . . . the theory is, if a new technique is announced it will get more people into Salons. Yep, that’s how the world of Color rolls! Why do you think they show pure white snowy blonds ( see my previous post) one month and raven dark haired vixens the next. As long as “change” is happening in hair color, then its a good thing for the “business” of hair color and the world of hair. If everyone were to remain a level 8 B ….year after year after year, what a boring ho-hum world it would be, and how hum drum it would be for business. Just like everything else in today’s world, Hair Color is first and foremost  - -  a business - -  and it needs rejuvenation and spark to stay interesting and 200296483-001provocative, just like any other.
I was trained at …. Vidal Sassoon. A school that has strict rules and regulations for extremely valid reasons. I admire their ways & means of teaching and continue to follow them all to this day. This entire BLOG is littered with both: KC-isms & Sassoon-isms… so if you want to learn the same, I would read and absorb……..read and absorb.
Now, when any Colorist is preparing to color a hair models hair, the first step always is the “consultation”. To me there is no more important step. The reason so many Stylists/Colorists make mistakes, is because they don’t take the time necessary to properly analyze this step and look at their clients hair back story. It is crucial to a successful outcome, to fully
  • analyze the hair’s characteristics,
  • learn the previous color processes performed
  • understand the “desired” look
Now, one of the biggest and most common mistakes one will see on blonds, is when the hair turns yellow/brass/orange/gold . I’ve tried many ways of explaining why that happens, we will try another one today. There is a misconception that ‘brass’ is a color and it can be removed, when nothing could be further from the truth. Its a bit of an ‘odd’ concept how the color Brass, or blorange, or Gold shows its ugly head in hair. But let me try  to explain how, where and why it comes from. I can’t tell you the amount of readers that have asked me if they could use the artificial hair color remover “VANISH” to remove the BRASS from their hair.’ Another KC-ism in Hair Color is
balayage.blonde.painting.2Using Vanish is the complete wrong tool, and it seems to be my issue in not teaching this concept properly….as to why some of you don’t understand why.I would like to try to get this clarified in this post, if you don’t understand, PLEASE ask in the COMMENTS section below, so I can see what I am missing.

When you apply color to the hair you are adding color . Color + Color (=) makes more Color, so the hair has more pigment. If the color used is addition only, the hair will often (but not always) be darker.
All virgin hair is shade of brown; it contains all 3 primaries. When hair is dark brown…it is the ‘bluest’ brown -  level 1-4. The most warm browns ( auburn ) are Levels 5-7. Then the lightest or most yellow browns are level 8-10 . . . the color is an uneven combination of the 3 primary colors, still.
Black is super dark Brown…. and blond’s are super light brown.
Brown is made from mixing different amounts of Red, Yellow, & Blue ( the primary colors). So if there is more yellow than red or blue, the brown will be light, even beige. If there is more red than the other 2 primaries, the brown will be warm, and if there is more blue than the other 2 the brown will be dark and cooler looking.
Complementary colors turn a shade of brown when mixed together, for ex: yellow mixed w/ violet achieves a pale brown; because yellow; the stronger color, will dominate the formula. Violet is made from red and blue(primary). When you mix yellow with violet, you achieve a shade of brown. Mixing opposites on the color wheel always results in a “browning out” effect.
Understanding all this about COLOR THEORY, truly is the basis for being a great Colorist. While I know 98% of you merely want to be able to color your own hair correctly. Unfortunately, understanding “COLOR THEORY” is a necessary part of  the puzzle. So, all these little rules and laws will help as you turn your hair from brown to blond and back again. Look at education (any education) as one more means of expanding your knowledge base. killercutscolors565
When finally comprehending color theory, it can benefit much more than hair color, it can add to the Interior or Exterior Design of your Home, the Clothing you put together and wear, it can even benefit the Frosting or Decorations you make on a cake. Color Theory affects many different aspects of ones life, and once it sinks in,you will find yourself having “aha” moments that deal with color theory revelations randomly.I receive emails from new Crib Colorists all the time with various stories of how color theory has popped  into their everyday life. Remember ANY education, is good for you.
When I would teach this color theory concept to new COSMO students….they would ALWAYS look at me as though I was wasting their time, so I went back to basics and required all students purchase a set of PLAY DOH. At least with something as fun and as nostalgic as PlayDoh, I could get past their anger & puzzlement and tap into their thirst for knowledge. Having them mix a small portion of yellow and red PlayDoh together – would show them the result was ORANGE….then add an equal portion of blue ( primary) ………what do you get?????………….BROWN. Then mix all different combinations to show them, all primaries when mixed equal brown.. its pretty cool to watch a entire room of COSMO Students have an “AHA” moment. And that “AHA” moment is about how the primary colors of red-yellow & blue, when mixed in uneven amounts equal BROWN! With BROWN being the color of all hair, it is a pretty significant realization. Most of them don’t realize that, but eventually they will.
FIRST, some color theory. . . . .
to have a balanced natural hair color:
all 3 primaries must be present
An imbalance (lack of any of 3 primaries) of primaries leads to an imbalance of end result
Therefore if you are blond, with brassy tones, the method one would use to “COUNTER” the brassy tones is what?
If the hair color is brassy, that means the primary that is the strongest is the YELLOW.
{Primary colors are Red, Blue & Yellow}
So, if the YELLOW is predominant and is what is causing the hair to be an obnoxious brassy color
Use the rule, that if the color is objectionable, then play with the primary colors to solve the problem.Take the 2 other primary colors…..???? RED & BLUE, mix them together which makes PURPLE ( right?)
Add a PURPLE TONER to that brassy Blond and it will knock that brass right out of the hair .
Once you begin to lighten hair….warmth is released. The first pigment to be released during lightening is BLUE. If you start with the blackest most coarse hair and begin to lighten it with bleach, you immediately see a change.
Because BLUE is the first pigment to leave the hair, you would go very quickly into the RED Zone, which is also the most difficult zone to leave. However if you use a microscope to observe the same black hair being lightened, you would see a different dominance of pigment at each step
So, if you were to observe the amount of natural pigment remaining in the hair at each level under a microscope, you would see a dominance of blue pigment at LEVEL 1 – BLACK, Which makes sense because black is really the BLUEST BROWN.
  • Level 2: very very dark brown, a dominance of blue/violet, which is still very dark but not black,prevails.
  • Level 3 : violet dominates
  • Level 4: violet/Red
  • Level 5: Red
  • Level 6: Red/Orange
  • Level 7: Orange
**LEVEL 7, btw is the most difficult stage or level to get past  -  all the trouble with brassy colors in hair stems from this
  • Level 8 : DURP Gold
  • Level 9: Yellow
  • Level 10: Very Pale Yellow10 degrees99
Now, that is an overview of where “brass” comes from and why it is so very difficult to get rid of. It is the most dominant color, it is the hardest color to counter, and the most impossible color to eliminate. There is no avoiding it, it is the most predominant color in everyone’s hair, no matter ‘what’ color the Virgin hair is.
Now to explain ‘why the Ballyage technique makes no sense to a Colorist…..or to “this Colorist” anyway!
The color hardest to get out of the hair………Gold/Brass {Level 7 Brass/Gold is like Glue}
The way in which hair is lightened is by applying bleach to the hair. The bleach then “lifts” the  color OUT OF THE STRANDS….in an effort to lighten it into the desired blond shade of choice….. in other words its like  sucking the color out the strands of hair…..
(I want to put this in the most simplified terms possible)
Say the hair is BLACK………….and you DESIRE PLATINUM
The mixture of Bleach plus 40 VOLUME DEVELOPER  is applied to the black hair and the bleach begins to suck the color out of the hair…………..
The lightening train goes like this….color is drawn out of the hair strand in this method:
  • BLACK - ->>> GOES TO
  • DARKEST BROWN ----> > >TO
  • DARK  BROWN  - - -> > >  GOES TO
  • BROWN  - - -> > >  GOES TO
  • LIGHT BROWN - - - -  GOES TO
  • RED - - - > > >  GOES TO
  • RED-ORANGE---->>> WHICH goes TO - - - >>>
  • GOLD  - - -  - which goes to
  • YELLOW - - - -> > > >
  • PALE BLOND the desired colored when millions of women go looking for a Sun-Kissed Blond Look).
Now what happens to so very many blonds that have BRASS instead of BLOND….is the lightener ( of whichever type or kind has been used)has not been left on long enough, OR a strong enough developer was not used. Resulting in the hair lightening up but getting stuck at the “GOLD” Level…..see it up there? If the lightener would have stayed on longer or a stronger volume developer would have been used it would have been able to climb those remaining 2 levels to PALE YELLOW BLOND .
Now when this dippy Balayage method, paints the Lightener on the hair –  FreeHand as you see in this photo:  001 Ballyage001
Why would you paint the lightener on the hair free hand? I have no idea what that accomplishes?
I wonder if they think it looks more natural??  It won’t.   ………I wonder if they think it’s faster ?? Most likely.. . . .
 Foils are difficult to learn - they had foiling BOOT camps at Sassoon because they not only wanted your foiling work to be 'pretty' looking - when the foils were on the head  ( which at first I thought was sooooooooo bizarre - who cares??? ..............then after I finally absorbed and understood the entire Sassoon world and education I finally GOT IT ! While the other people in the salon had screwy looking uneven and  horribly placed foils - yours would be perfect and orderly, it not only made your client feel special I cannot tell you how many clients switched to me to be their Colorist -- SIMPLY because of my foiling work. I OWE THAT ALL TO SASSOON ! ) Remember Foils keeping moisture in and on the strands. Moisture keeps the lightener active and working, the last thing you want is for it to dry out.........which is what will happen to it in the AIR .....during Balayage. Do you really think no one thought of this before?  That's the part that gets me. So 70 years ago when all of these techniques were first being formulated you don't think the first Colorists didn't think of painting the bleach on the hair FIRST????


Because when you did that the client would repeatedly end up with brassy hair - then the hair needs to be "re-colored' and REPEATING lightening processes is called OVER-LAPPING and check in my rules about how to achieve the most damage in lightening hair. OVER-LAPPING is at the top of the list. 

They figured out a long time ago if foils were used that the majority of people would have properly colored blonde hair. They did NOT make up the process just because they wanted to add a useless step to lighteninig hair. 

 and all of you who think they do, are wrong.

I know this is a very conterversial subject but I stick to my guns about how foiling is the proper method for achieving natural looking streaks or ribbons or ropes or pieces or whatever you want to call little pieces of hair that are lightened lighter than the rest of the hair.
FOILS are hard to learn. Ask anyone who is an A List Colorist and if properly placed they can achieve the exact same look with less time and more control.

 Here is another photo of Balayage, which I would foil and would achieve this exact same look.

As a Colorist what I want when I color hair is “control”. Control and Timing so I know exactly what is going to happen and WHEN. If you are to paint lightener on the hair you are going to lose the body’s warmth that comes from using foils. Once the lightener is applied to the strand of hair then the foil is folded over that strand …. both the body and the foil create HEAT a very mild warmth which is actually just perfect -- it gently helps the lightening action along. if you don’t use foil, you lose that, which means you have a much greater risk of ending up in the BRASS RANGE. The dreaded BRASS – range......... its why we use foils. 
 Lightening hair without the use of foils is archaic and unnecessary. If anything, apply the foils with the lightener, as hair stylists you must learn how to check hair that has lightener on it, and KNOW WHAT STAGE IT IS, I mean it doesn’t take long…in about 2 months of practice you could be good at foils and should know what hair looks like when you scrape off the lightener from a clients foils….to be able to tell whether or not you should rinse a client now or in 20 minutes. Yes, its an  art, but dammit, get GOOD at that art….its why you went into this biz, don’t be a slacker.

I cannot even figure out what the purpose of Balyage is, to be perfectly frank. With foils you can create just about any work of art you would like….. foils let Color 1 be on a certain portion of hair. . . . while allowing Colors 4-7 & 9 to NOT be other portions…. 

Using foils are the mark of a Great Colorist. Everything they claim Balayage can create we have been doing for years with foils. There is a certain strain of hairstylists that don’t use foils and the only reason I could possibly imagine for not using foils is laziness. Foils are used for the heat they retain – the art they allow to have and the mobility they impart when trying to display a rainbow of colors WITHOUT BRASS in the blond’s.
I will have at least a half dozen people every week ask me what they can do to get the brass out…..or the ‘orange’ out…I ask how the Stylist colore3d their hair and the answer is ALWAYS BALAYAGE!!!!!! So, if you believe nothing else, believe that, or your own experience.
The only way to lighten hair with “control” over how light it does or does not get is with Bleach. So many are hesitant of the use of bleach, . As an experienced Colorist, bleach can be your best friend … there are just soooo many uses for it, but never ever use it without plenty of experience behind you.
Balayage began in the country of France, which explains a lot (to me) . Balayage,  is a French term for hair painting. It is a freehand placement of highlights, without the use of foils, allows for a more natural color application that complements and contrasts in all the right places.THAT is what the textbooks say. I say, bring back the foils!

This is what Balyage looks like;

Think before you request this technique, ask that Stylist if they also do foils. Remember foils give the colorist more control and  get the hair PAST that dreaded ‘brass’ stage.
Something.................anyone Loves !