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 !


  1. So isn't this just something like 'highlights' but without the foils? Seems silly to me as well. Why would anyone NOT want to use foils if you are basically doing highlights? (which are history anyway;)
    I would think the bleach would get on the other parts of the hair without foils. Plus, looking at the picture of that girl with this technique, it doesn't look natural at all, and I am not a fan. So thanks for demystifying that fancy word KC! :-)

  2. Hi KC,
    When lightening with highlifts that also deposit color, do you find that the color deposit from the highlift is enough to kill the brass? For example: I want to us Framesi 12.12 us/c on my level 5 with orange durp. Now, I know that is an ash and I know I need to strand test. But, I see you sell colors (toners) with the highlifts. That's why I ask.
    You have also said that you've seen Framesi lift 5 levels (not that everyone will get that result). How about with the blonde booster? Will that achieve more lift (aprox. how much)? And, does it help the tone deposit because of the extra lift? I get confused after the lift- I know I want to tone against my durp which would be orange. But, if I use an ash highlift would I order an ash color or would that be overkill? You know, I just want that pretty wheat 9-10 level blonde. I'm sure I'm the only one on God's green earth!
    Hate to load you down with a Q&A, but you're so darn good at this! Thanks, SW

  3. So when bleach is sucking out the pigment... where does the pigment go?!


  4. Sandra,
    For all your questions, pleas join the group and ask in there...Going from a LEVEL 5 to a Level 10 is quite the job, and I would encourage you to purchase the Blond BOOSTER and 12.12 / 40V. from Framesi along with the Matrix Toner Sheer Pastel Violet...do a Strand test behind each ear...one with the blond booster and one without. Process for a full 80 minutes in a warm room - rinse and blow dry the strand tests... then make your decision. Anything else - head to the group . . . GL

  5. Ally,
    Think of one hair strand
    as one straw
    and in that one straw is the color pigment of the hair.
    Lets say you are a Level 6A
    So in that STRAW is Brown PIGMENT
    as the lightener is applied to that straw, immediately the brown pigment starts dissipating - within seconds its gone from Level 6 to 7 because the darker pigments run the fastest, they are the easiest to get rid of in hair,
    then we get to Level 8 and those pigments don't want to leave near as quickly...so they are stubborn and resist - they don't want to leave - they are completely happy where they are... (this is becoming the "resistant" hair I always speak about) - - but after 15-30 minutes they too, begin to leave.
    But now we have run into the most stubborn of all pigments in hair the GOLD or BRASS pigments of the Level 8/9 Hair. This is where many heads of hair color will stick, literally they will be stuck at this level and cannot budge from it. Many Colorists who are in a hurry and have other clients waiting, will look at hair see it is stuck here.... rinse and send you on your way, anyway. WRONG.
    VERY WRONG, I can't tell you how many times I have seen this done and I simply 'cringe' inside when its done.
    Please go to the KILLER STRANDS group, to find out "how" and "why" to solve this this problem in the future... and why what these hair stylists have done is 100% completely wrong, and how easy it is to solve.
    Just GOOGLE:


  6. I love Balayage. My hair looks natural and anything but brassy because my colorist knows what she's doing. Foils have baked my hair in the past. They conduct heat and result in stripes. I have been to several very experienced hairdressers who did foils on my hair and have never been happy with the results. Balayage is the only method by which I would color my hair- it looks sun-kissed and the structure of the highlights are imperfect, which I love.
    Just my 0.02 cents -- I'm sure you won't post this which is totally fine, I only wanted to defend Balayage because I love it, and we all have an opinion, and we all have different preferences that not every colorist will agree on. Cheers.

    1. I agree!! My stylist is well trained on the Balayage technique & my brass is gone & its an awesome shade of sun kissed blonde! And I can take way more time in between color appointments!!!

    2. Me too! My hair dressers kill it at both Balayage & Foiling. Just get a good stylist that uses good products and knows what they are doing and you will not look like the above pictures.

    3. I agree. I love working with the Balayage and Foiling method. The most experienced colorist would know when to apply which.

    4. Love doing foils. But now I live ombre & balayage technique. All depends on what clients want. Balayage can really show off the haircut/style. It fun. And I love candy shaw the balay-lama.

  7. I love this blog, but I think this post was sadly misinformed and disappointing. First, balyage is the french word meaning "to sweep" as is the technique used for applying. The photos you provide are misleading and are of people doing balyage poorly. The purpose isnt to mimic the look of foils. The purpose is to give a more natural "beachy" look. Proper balyage can achieve a look of being out in the sun, the same way a child's hair is naturally highlighted. Balyage is not suitable for someone with hair much lower than a level 7 I would say, and is often used in conjunction with foils as well. Sarah Jessica Parker is a great example of someone who has their hair balyaged. When done properly, a plastic bag should be put over the head as well, to retain the heat and moisture.

    It is not something that is done out of laziness or lack of skill, but rather another technique used for achieving a specific look for a specific client.

    While everyone is certainly allowed their opinions, I feel as though you should learn some more about the technique, and what it can offer.

  8. i know that kate hudson and jennifer aniston both get their hair done by negin zand and she balayages their hair. maybe it just takes a talented colorist.

  9. I've been doing balayage for 3 years now I also do foils. My opinion everyone's hair is diffrent and you have to determine which technique suits their hair. I personally like the balayage much better its a lot healthier for their hair. your not overlapping bleach when all they need is a touch up. I notice when people come in from another salon and they have foils their hair is always damaged by them. Knock on wood i have never had a problem with balayge. If you learn how to do it the right way i guarantee you'll love it and your client will too.

  10. Wow, I'm so happy to have struck such a nerve

    1)Yes, it probably works well on Level 8 people w/ terrific DURP, I wouldn't gamble with anything else, I don't want my readers trying this, sorry.

    2)Don't ever think Celebrities have 1 Colorist.
    1 week they will be in NY 1 week in LA & one week in LONDON and 1 on location. Unless a Hair stylist is put on Permanent Retainer, Celebs learn really quickly not to get too stuck on one.Very few can afford to replace the entire amount of CASH one makes in a SALON at that level. Trust me.
    My daughter who stunt doubles for Katie Heigl had to have her hair matched to Katie's by KIM VO Mr Hot shot hair colorist. I would love for you to hear her rant about his UN-Talent, he charged the studio $2,000. - she was furious for weeks at the lousy job(brassy - she has great DURP BTW). Remember she is a photographer(mainly)she works with all the best, all the time (and she has me-her dippy mom to correct the mess).
    So claiming a celeb has Balayage and its done by so and so is done everyday by every hair Colorist/Cutter in town, who has done a Celebs hair once ... about 20% are the truth of being their "personal".

    3.) You don't think we tried this at Sassoon ??? are you kidding me ? 30 of us screwed around with it for a week. We had competitions; goofing around with it, trying to find some redeeming quality.some doing 'without' foils some 'with'..

    I stand by my post. Bleach dries out - which is most of the reason foils replaced those goofy caps they used to use..because the lightener would dry out. Yes,it worked into the Sassoon method of doing hair (geometric - a round head with 'straight' hairs coming out of it)so they were to only take a necessary method and expand on it to turn it into the work of art it is today. Doing foils is a total work of GEOMETRIC ART.
    When bleach/lightener DRIES out, it stops working,mostly you need the full 1 hour+plus even w/ high-lift blond's. Bleach dries out in 15-25 minutes. MAX.
    Re-application can present a whole other problem (which hairs had it on the whole time which didn't - help)
    We really came up with 'they must have thought this up for the people who don't like to do foils'.
    There are many stylists that are terrified of foils. Its an art that takes time to become good at. Especially to get your speed up to where it needs to be in order to get that person's foils in, in the 30 minutes you have 4 a "Full-HEAD" I'm sure many of you know that term. A full head would be the super expensive one, the "Half-HEAD" and then the "Partial HEAD" they mean prices to most of you, to a STYLIST it means 'how many people you can cram' in one day! Seriously, think about it...
    You do a 1/4 head of foils (just the Crown...can be accomplished in 15 minutes 1/2 head 30 minutes and a FULL HEAD will be 45-55 minutes and how fast a foiler you are-is the crucial weight on your shoulders as to how many people you can get finish in 1 day.
    So your income depends on your foil work....
    Any of you going to school for hair..get your self an extra-mannequin, {I'm going to start carrying them, although I have not found a super low price its OK, just not GREAT....but for now I am just going to carry these}
    PRACTICE - PRACTICE - PRACTICE foils -- it can make or break your career.

    4. I will fully apologize for mis-quoting the definition of Balayage(just can't trust that damn Internet)

    My Best

  11. KC,

    You have explained yourself beautifully and supported your position very well.

    Even though it's probably a hassle for you, I think this kind of banter is useful and very informative for those of us interested in coloring our own hair.

    Thanks for sharing the best hair information on the internet, and supplying us with stellar products!

  12. KC I am printing this article out and taking to the Hair School around the corner!!!!!

    If only the Milady textbook explained this as clearly.

  13. was really concerned about this too when I was pregnant. A month before my due date, hubby took the trimmer 'down south' and did a nice trim job. I ended up going into delivery 3 weeks early so thank God hubby had done the trim job the week before. It wasn't SO 'au natural' that I was embarrassed at the hospital which was good - BUT I think while you are in delivery you could have something that looks like Don King in a headlock and you wouldn't care one bit!! I had a c-section so I had an audience looking at my naked body and the thought NEVER crossed my mind.

  14. i think you can get the same results from foiling just have to very the weave sections but i think that customers and stylist are always looking for differant fun things to do so balayage is differant it is a great way to do very short hair also . Ann

  15. Sorry, but like Matthew said, your pictures on balayage are misleading. I love balayage, it's the best way to get natural looking highlights. :)

  16. I'm planning to get this done - I showed my hairdresser a photo of a girl with lovely graduated colour and told her that that's what I want. She explained to me what she would do, and it sounded like a good compromise - she said that she will do foils as she normally would, but instead of just painting on the one tone of blonde, she will paint on three different tones and blend them together.

  17. There are a million and one opinions about this technique . . .which is wonderful, its America and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. I also have mine and I stand by it. You get more control with foils - - period... is my opinion.
    Relax everyone.
    Its hair.
    Not rocket science.
    To each his own.

  18. I want to do color my drab silver, gray, and brown dull and boring hair.
    I live in Sacramento, CA - Downtown.
    I would love to have a recommendation of a person who uses safe and healthy products.

  19. KC! you are amazing!I'm a hairstylist in a salon and was taught at a Redken school, this is the way they explain color theory, but I've worked with hairstylists that have been in the industry for triple the amount of time I have and still don't understand everything you just explained!

  20. While I appreciate your advanced understanding of color theory, I would like to offer the following comments about your views of the Balayage technique. You would better serve your readers and yourself if you had just used the same intelligent approach to Balayage as you obviously have to Foil Hilites. If you had taken a moment to educate yourself more fully about the very technique you criticize, we could have all benefitted. And the fact that one who so obviously shows such a great knowledge and passion for hair color, I am astounded that you would then risk your reputation by discussing a topic about which you clearly haven't invested your education time or dollar to pursue. Please do us a favor and limit your critiques to the area of study that you seem to sincerely know so well. If you had taken even a brief moment to study this alternative technique, then you would realize that this area of your blog makes you appear ignorant and obtuse. The comments you make about Balayage are almost the exact opposite of the truth.

    Master Hair Colorist (25+ years experience)

  21. Yes, you obviously have a solid working knowledge of color theory. Kudos for that. However, I think you're letting your personal dislike/bias for balayage create a blind spot about this technique. Your opinions are bordering on snarky. You also used the worst sample balayge pics I've ever seen showing super chunky, over lightened stripes. That is not typical to this technique. I personally love the effect of balayage. It's diffused and natural looking with a subtle graduated lightness from base to ends. And since you use less H202 in the bleach mixture than that of traditional foiling processes,
    it creates less damage to the hair. Balayage grow out is so much more manageable for the client too as they can go longer between appointments. And in this economy they do appreciate that. No more foiled pinstripes (snake stripes) that just end. Viva la balayage!

  22. After never understanding the color wheel, I finally understand it now thanks to reading your blog. AMAZING.

  23. I perform balayage on 98% of my clients. There are many ways to apply it. The benefits for me are - grow it is more natural, less demarkation, more of that sunbleached look that everyone loves, cleaner, less damaging to hair, easier to touch up on follow up visits, much faster to apply (can do 10/day easy).

    I put plastic wrap between each section, sometimes using cotton to prevent bleeding. I use a climatron heater. Moisture and heat is not an issue.

    After learning baly i strongly prefer it. I now find foils to be a pain.

    Thank you for this post KC. I do think you should do a little more research though.

  24. To each his own....
    Killerstrands mission is to teach the PUBLIC, who have no access to top notch Hair Colorists, or no decent hair stylists within NOT Hair Stylists.
    A Climatron is a $$1,000.- $2,000. Thousand Dollar piece of equipment - - which I really would not expect anyone to purchase...would you? (maybe its even more - now)
    I've never found foils to be a pain, I have found many people have a difficult time controlling them. It baffles me that you spend time writing a comment like that - - on a site that is CLEARLY designed for the public & the non-hair-stylist league..?
    People get so worked up about this issue.
    Just....... let--it--go everyone.
    Its simply MY Opinion, that's all.
    Join Blogger - - write your own Blog.
    Its a free country. Just sharin' my own experiences and MY knowledge.

    Its a free country........... enjoy it.

  25. I strongly disagree with your opinion on Balayage. I've been a hair color specialist for 14 years and just added balayage to my services belt the last two and a half years and have converted around 60% of my clientele to this technique. Although I agree with you on the art of foiling, and proper foil placement, the fact that you said balayage dries out only leaving hair brassy because it does not offer the foiled heat conducting element, balayage requires saran wrap, keeping the hair moist and designated to process with body hear and/or heat lamps. (We use Jupiters at our salon.) Calling this technique lazy and archaic is such a cop-out, as I believe it takes more more precision, skill and creativity to make this actually look wearable and beautiful. With foil, you have sections and "barriers" if you will. You're designing hair color in uniform strips, using the sections to "protect" you from veering off and actually making a mistake. With balayage, everything is out there. There is no guide, no section to keep you "locked" in. See how it requires a special and keen skill set in order for it to look beautiful? I also wanted to point out how you said, "30 of us screwed around with it for a week," Well, there's another problem. This takes months and months of practice. Not "screwing" around with it for a week. Do you think somebody can master the art of a perfectly sectioned herringbone foil highlight in in a week? I think not. Maybe it's a Sassoon mentality. I work with several x-sasooners who also can't seem to grasp the freehand technique. Not saying that foils will be extinct in years to come with fashion and celebrities sporting balayage and ombre hair styles, but just remember how the "frosting cap" was so popular? And look how it's evolved! Much success!

  26. Mr. Blue,
    I will post your message.
    I get so many messages of 'hate' from this post, which only shows me I am still doing my job right ... I don't post them all, they are very repetitive.
    I will point you to my answer to the last post. DITTO - Sir,

  27. Althought I love balayage an that is the only color service I perform at my salon. I really appreciate all of your knowledge and the passion you have in the basics of color. You are absolutely right, you are entitle to your opinion and to express your experience with this technique, it doesnt make it right or wrong.

  28. To answer the comments regarding why use balayage over a foil technique - the end result is completely different.

    If you were to take a slice of hair as you would to put in a foil, you can see that the hair will be thicker at the roots and gradually get thinner towards the ends of the hair. If you colour straight over this slice of hair you will have more brightness at the roots than the ends- the opposite of what happens naturally!

    When colouring freehand I take triangular sections, painting the colour on the surface of the hair, lightly feathering the colour towards the roots and only fully saturating the ends of the stands. The end result is that you look like you have stepped off the beach, rather than out the salon.

    Not to say foil is obsolete, but they are both totally different techniques, giving different effects.

  29. The pictures you show aren't accurate of most balayage. And balayage isn't highlights or a color. I'm a dark brunette, going lighter but no where near blonde or brassy. Additionally my lightened strands aren't anywhere near the roots. Its a subtle art and a good colorist can achieve the color they want without foils, and its the skill to paint the color/lightener on to frame the face and complement the cut that makes balayage so popular. Also, there are colorists that do balayage and still use foil. But the pictures are ridiculous as that is not what most people want when they get balayaged.

  30. Load of shit this person is so bitter.
    I actually want the past 15 minutes of my life back

    a colorist enhances or refines the natural remaining pigment of the hair
    balayage is for a softer technique and should be a double process, which is lift then tone.

    this lazy colorist enjoys placing streaky pieces of hair onto your head, don't let her or him steer you away from this technique, its up to the guest what the desired result should look like.

    pinstripes vs a subtle ombre

    this blogger is whack, bitter and complacent

    I'm Sassoon as well but an actual colorist for I can do any and all coloring techniques, if this person can understand balayage, go take a color class and stop pretending your some grand colorist


    a real hair stylist


  31. I love how this post brings out the best in people
    Thank you for you inspiring rebuttal, I'm sure you have inspired hundreds to ask for this technique now.

    Your 15 minutes is returned to you

  32. This technique has been used in Paris for DECADES. Its been around for a while. So while your argument about hair coloring is great, I'm sure you don't know what you're talking about.

  33. I always taught my children "everyone is different" . . . so when they ran into someone with a different view point they wouldn't go off at them, or they wouldn't be mad at them...... the world is filled with different view points and different theories and each and everyone is entitled to their own. Which is exactly what this Blog is.... my opinion on various hair techniques and education. Don't get so worked up over this, Jeez, we are talking "hair" here, nothing could be more insignificant in the realm of life..so to get worked up about it... is really ridiculous . . . . silly

  34. Wow. You sound loke a boring idiot hairdresser. We have too many of you in the world, if you can't do thw technique properly, that's your fault. Not the industries

  35. This Blog's sole purpose is aimed at teaching People at home to be Crib Colorists, as there are hundreds of little towns sprinkled across our big country that have no access to good hair or good products, everyone of you are acting like I am speaking to STYLISTS.
    That is a completely different audience....and for that entity, I truly would speak completely different on many topics. Do you all really think people at home should be applying the Balayage technique to their own hair.
    How good do you think that might turn out?
    i AM HERE FOR THE PUBLIC, to keep them away from techniques that might turn out disastrous AT HOME.

    Why are you even reading this Blog?

  36. Kc has taught me a lot about color theory and provided knowledge I would have never found elsewhere.
    With that said...her talent is not communication. I think she has become rigid in her ways and unable to see beyond her education, in that the balayage technique frees up so much opportunity for color ribbons and organic flowing highlights that I am a true convert. The bleach or color does not dry because it is isolated by layers of saran wrap. The result is so much more subtle than the streaky madness that foils create. There is an art to applying color with the balayage technique and she has, for whatever reason, decided to close herself off from it. Its a shame for her, really, but to each their own.

  37. Do you know how many comments I get like yours?
    It's exhausting ......that none of you have the brains to figure out who this Blog is aimed at.
    What on earth makes you think I am talking to licensed hair stylists/Colorists??
    If I have taught you so much, why don't you leave it at that.
    You have gotten a multitude of FREE Color Theory classes from me - I think a Thank You sounds better than your mindless annihilation of me and my mission.
    I spent close to $40,000. on my education, both beginning and continuing - sounds like you got yours FREE, from me.

    If my talent is 'not communicating' why did you read anything at all?
    If I begin reading a Blog or a book I can tell in a paragraph or page if I want to continue with it or not. Sounds like you got the education you needed and now feel bold enough, to slaughter me.
    You previously said how much I taught you......well, the only way I could have taught you is "by communicating"...

    So your point is ridiculous.

    I will say it again, because all of you idiotic hair stylists think this Blog is for you, when it is NOT FOR YOU - - AS IT SAYS ABOVE IN EVERY OTHER Comment....
    This Blog is for HOME HAIR COLORISTS - Not paid Stylists. I cater everything I write to them and that is all. None of this is meant for Stylists.

    Do you know how completely lame you sound ?
    You are working on people's hair and you are a licensed stylist and you didn't learn about color theory until you read this BLOG, which ONCE AGAIN is written FOR HOME HAIR COLORISTS WITH NO FORMAL TRAINING.

    So, once again, do you think I should be teaching Home Hair Colorists with ZERO formal training to take up the art of Balayage ?

    I have never created anything even close to streaky madness I can assure you. There are many advanced techniques used to foil hair and I have never spoken about any of them in 7 years of writing this Blog.
    Because, once again my goal here is to teach Home hair colorists to color their hair, without ruining it and to create something beautiful that they alone can manage and care for.. A lot of women want to take back the control of the color of their own hair from stylists who have destroyed it.

    That is the one and only mission here.

    You can create any look in the world with foils....Annie Humphries the Queen of Hair Color can out color and out do anyone in the world and she is who I picked up my art from. Its a free world at least here it is...everyone is entitled to do whatever they want. There is not ONE WAY to put ribbons of light, twinkling ropes, or little natural blond pieces in people's hair and all of them can be 100% successful.

    How about that idea. Get over yourself.

  38. Hi Thankyou for writing about balayage I have succumbed to this twice now ( what a sucker ! ) with the believe and reassurance that there would be no brassiness and it would look totally natural . Wrong !! For me this didn't work and I'm sure there are lots of people for whom it did and they are happy. That's how and why I discovered your blog and I think it's great and I would like to personally thankyou for helping me learn and have the confidence to do it myself. I am using 4% peroxide and illumina o 8/69 and 7/81 to try and banish the orange tone, I am a level 5 and my desired tone is cool ash 8. I did tell hairdressers that my hair pulls orange and sticks at that level but they didn't listen ! Feel cheeky asking on comments but I am from the UK and can't get a consultation !
    Keep up the good work and please ignore the nasty and downright rude comments people leave !
    Thanks Catherine

  39. I think everyone can do what they want as long as the client is happy AND the hair is left in healthy condition I don't honestly care how they get there.

    To each his own, is a statement I live my life by.

    More power to all who use this method successfully.



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