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Balayage has been around for years and years, but thanks to visual-based social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, people are falling in love with it all over again as celebrities tout the look. If you haven’t seen balayage hair, it’s a way of coloring hair that is soft, subtle, natural and has integrated regrowth lines. Below is everything you need to know about the look.

Some basics of balayage

The term actually comes from the French word meaning to sweep, and is used to describe a painting technique. The balayage technique itself, which has seen an upswing in popularly recently as UK stylists have been taught the method, involves applying color to the surface of the hair near the root and then saturating the color deeper as you go farther down the strands. Think of it like a tortoise hair color or color melt look with a more subtly painted touch.

The glory of this look is the sheer versatility of color. The goal is to look natural and lighten up features. So what you’ll usually see is darker hair leading into a few shades lighter. But the true customization comes in when you decide what the color is.

Dyed colors can be warm, cool, go one shade lighter or go a few. Black leading into warm caramel brown, light brown leading into blonde ends and even black gradually leading into blonde ends are all popular looks. It’s like choosing any other hair color for yourself, but the color is just applied in a more subtle, gradual way.

The look itself grows out well and requires less maintenance than other color jobs. Since the look is so subtle at the top, regrowth gives the look a more subtle, gradual ombre look. After that it’s a matter of keeping the color protected with color-protecting shampoos and conditioners. Then touch-up when absolutely needed.

Get the balayage look

As with any new color, you may want to consider going to a salon for balayage. A stylist will be able to help you select the best color for your features, which is a must for this natural look that was made to flatter the individual. They can also apply balayage in a practiced, graceful way.

Yet if you want to do balayage at home, it’s a lot less tricky than some other color trends. Like the name suggests, you’ll just need a light painting motion near the roots on the top layer of the hair. Use a crème-formulated home box dye on a tint brush for greater control. Then as you move down the length of your hair, you’ll want to gradually saturate the strands until the ends are as soaked as they’d be if you were applying hair dye like normal. Wait the usual amount of time for the dye to set and rinse it out. Then enjoy your new, natural-looking colored hair.

Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. You can find out more about her at https://www.clippings.me/michellelovrine.