When the sun comes out and the weather starts to get warmer, everyone wants to be blonder. Blonding can be a challenging service and can cause more permanent issues if done incorrectly. With a lot of confusing terms floating around the internet it’s easy to be misinformed about blonding services. Two of the most commonly confused blonding techniques are balayage and foil services:
Balayage (bah-lee-ahge) is the French word for “to sweep”. Balayage refers to the technique of hand-painting bleach onto the hair. This is an open-air service, meaning there are no foils used to incubate the bleach.
There are many different service types and terms that refer that using foils such as; foilyage, highlights, teasey lights, etc. However, the lift achieved with the foil process is far more important than the name of the process.
So, what’s the difference?
A balayage service is typically used to achieve a more subtle, dimensional, warmer blonde. The effect is a gradual change from darker roots to lighter ends. Foil services can achieve a more solid blonde, and in some cases a brighter, lighter blonde than traditional balayage due to incubation. There typically is a significant difference in price between foils and balayage due to the increased amount of product and time used in foil services.
Whenever you bleach the hair, regardless of the process (with, or without foils), you will always be compromising the integrity of your hair to a certain degree. After all, it is bleach. Bleach opens the cuticle of the hair and strips it of its pigment. This leaves you with the underlying, natural, raw color of the hair which is often yellow, red, and orange. When the hair is incubated in a foil, the heat speeds up the process of breaking down the bonds, which strips the color from the hair more quickly, but also causes more damage. This damage can be lessened and even reversed with certain bond-rebuilding agents like Olaplex which helps to rebuild bonds that bleach weakens and helps your hair feel stronger and healthier.
How do I know which one’s for me?
Because there are so many variations of blonde, it is extremely important to be on the same page with your hairdresser. People will often expect that balayage can take them from really dark hair to bright, solid blonde because of a Pinterest key word search. Others will bring in pictures of warm blonde hair and say they want it to be “ashy”. These services and tones are often incorrectly portrayed on social media which leads to high expectations and miscommunication (for more on this see our blog “Filtered Reality”). These are just some of the reasons that we put a big emphasis on consultations prior to any blonding service.
During the initial consultation, the hairdresser will go over many different factors that contribute to the exact look you’re hoping for including: dimension, placement, brightness, and tone. A toner or gloss will work to enhance or neutralize the desired tone (ashy, cool, icy, warm, etc.) after a bleaching service. Over time the toner/gloss will fade away subtly. Hair could start to look dull or you might see unwanted yellow or orange tones. Fading is completely normal due to washing, sun exposure, swimming, hard water, and simply needs to be “refreshed”. This typically happens every 6-8 weeks but could fade more quickly with cool/ashy tones or under various circumstances.
Important tips for going blonde:
Slow and steady wins the race! It’s far better to do it the right way than the easiest or quickest way. Investing in a quality service from the start will lead to far healthier hair in the long run.
Just because services are often misrepresented in pictures doesn’t mean that pictures aren’t helpful. Actually, pictures are an extremely useful tool to help you and your hairdresser get on the same page and know that you are looking at and speaking about the same thing. There’s no need to feel like you’re offending your hairdresser when you bring in a photo. It’s actually very helpful—they can see exactly what you want and don’t have to guess. Even photos of styles and colors you don’t like are helpful too! For accurate representations of our blonding and balayage services, search #virtueblonding or #virtuebalayage on Instagram. Or check out our Pinterest page, where the services are categorized in separate “boards”.
Olaplex is the key to healthy blonde hair. Don’t skip this extremely important step!
Written by Brittany