My First Balayage Experience: Everything you need to know and expect!

Ok let me start off by saying this. I made a huge blogger mistake. I did not take before pictures or pictures during my balayage experience. In my defense I was so nervous my palms were sweating. Some of you may say OMG Vanessa dramatic lol! However I have never dyed my hair. Years back I did a semi permanent with my stylist to go darker and it was only for a year. Washouts in my opinion don’t count lol my natural hair color came back with no issues. This time I was going permanent and lighter! Can we say huge step?!! HA! When I was a teen the striped highlighting craze was sooo in and I was never interested. I consider my style very natural and plain Jane in a way. Going bold with highlights didn’t excite me.

In recent years I have found myself needing a change. As I have gotten older and with the balayage trend still going strong I was ready to take a leap of faith. I will go into detail on what balayage is, what to expect and how to maintain it!

I pulled a picture from my amazing experience with Alex Brown (see that post HERE) to show you a before shot of my hair. Oh and my after pictures are from Instagram stories, not nicely focused pictures. Again I failed but I wanted to write this post because I am in love with my hair!

Before Balayage:

Hair Cut and Style by Alex Brown

After Balayage:

Balayage, Hair Cut and Style by Christine Miller

What is Balayage?

Balayage is a french word meaning sweeping. It is a technique for highlighting hair in which the stylist will free hand the dye on in such a way to create a natural lightness towards the end of your hair. You want to go to someone you know and trust. Someone who understands your style, how you frame your hair to your face. For an in depth read on this technique and know the differences between balayage, highlighting and ombre go here. I did a ton of research before I decided on this and talked with my stylist. My stylist and I have been together since I was 21. That is 17 years! I knew she would be the only person I would trust to dye my hair in this way. I showed her this inspiration picture and we discussed options.

My Inspiration for Balayage. Image from Pinterest: was not able to locate direct source

I explained I wanted it subtle but noticeable. She suggested to use caramel and not blonde since my hair is brown and she wanted it to look as natural as possible. As you can see above she NAILED IT! It was very noticeable to all my friends and family because they never saw me with lighter hair. However it was perfect. It was like I have been on vacation and I felt amazing! I felt like I looked fresh and younger dare I say. My mom said that too so it counts lol I absolutely love that she framed my face with the lighter shade a bit so its was not just light more towards to bottom. The balayage looks seamless and that is exactly the look you want!

So what should you expect?

After talking about how I part my hair and going over again how I style my hair (which side do a part it ect) she went to get all the mixing in. She used two different shades of caramel. One was lighter that she used for the bottom and for framing my face and one that was darker (I had some grey hair she covered). I do not have grey hair at my roots just yet Thank God so I did not have to do any initial root dye. Every hair stylist will have their own methods but the basics will remain the same. Balayage is a free style technique where your hair stylist will paint on the color. See a video of the technique here. It is is done on dry hair, then its washed, blow dried, cut and styled! She used some foils in my hair towards the top and then wrapped it with a balayage specific plastic clear wrap. I waited for about 15-20 minutes until the color started to lighten. She also had me sit under those cool looking chairs at the salon to speed up the process a bit.

Here is when I truly started to sweat lol As I was sitting a piece of hair by my eye was getting lighter and seeing it freaked me out. I thought omg what if I hate this? What if I look unnatural? It was all just so new to me I had no clue what to expect. Once it was washed (she added a glaze and toner in this process to help make the color pop and to keep it shining) we went the chair for my trim, blow out and style. The more and more I saw it coming to life I was falling in love.

Carmel Balayage
Balayage Hair by Christine Miller
Balayage Hair
Carmel Balayage by Christine Miller
balayage hair

How to maintain Balayage:

This is by far the most low maintenance way to dye your hair. This is another reason I went with Balayage. The price can be a bit costly up front however you can do it once every 9-12 months. WIN!!!! However you have some maintenance to do! First in order to maintain your color you want to go with a sulfate & paraben free shampoo and conditioner. Sulfates can dry out your hair and strip away the colors. You all know I love a good drugstore beauty product so I am using The Signature Shampoo and Conditioner by Kristen Ess. Find them for $10 at Target.

You will read or hear a lot about toning or your hair turning brassy looking. Sometimes your color can turn brassy and will need some maintenance. There are products on the market called Purple Shampoo. This will help turn those blonde / caramel shades back to life! However my stylist said she can glaze and tone it anytime! I have not purchased a purple shampoo at this time because I plan to go back for a trim, glaze and tone at the end of May before we have a big family wedding. However if I see my shade going a bit hay wire I will try a purple shampoo.

Another thing suggested for maintenance is to not wash your hair everyday. So you will want to test out those dry shampoos! I love this one from Dove and Amika! You will want to take care of your hair with some good hair masks (love this one from Amika) and scalp products! I really want to try this scalp purifying shampoo. Its on my next target order list!

I hope this helps if you have been thinking about trying balayage! Again I am sorry for my blogger fail with more pictures lol but I think the pictures although not perfect 100% showcase the beauty of my caramel balayage. I feel naturally sun kissed and feel like a whole new person! After having my kids I have really felt the need for a change and my hair has given me more motivation to keep working on my self care on my levels!!! If you have balayage or decide to do it please tag me on Instagram! BPAMC wants to see it!!!


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