WHAT IS IT?
First popularised in France, the balayage hair colour technique (say ‘bah-lah-yarge’, as the French would) is said to a more natural-looking take on hair highlighting.
Compared to basic foil highlighting, where hair colour is applied uniformly from the roots to the tips and then wrapped and folded in foil, the balayage technique requires the colourist to paint the dye lightly on the roots and more heavily towards the tips of your hair.
This slow, sweeping motion creates a natural-looking ombré effect that can give your hair a greater depth of colour. Blonde balayage highlights can also mimic the appearance of shiny, “sun-kissed” hair, as seen on celebrities like Jessica Biel, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gisele Bundchen.
The balayage technique is also purported to make the dark roots of your hair less obvious when it grows out, as the darker tones close to the crown of your hair can help conceal the growth.
In fact, hair stylist Angeline Tan of FDP (Franz de Paris) Prestige Haircare suggests that balayage highlights may have been the then-pregnant Kate Middleton’s beauty secret too. She thinks that the Duchess of Cambridge was likely to have had balayage highlights painted lightly onto just the ends of her locks during her pregnancy. This way, she would have avoided chemical contact with her scalp while still enhancing her tresses with that beautiful, healthy-looking shine.
Balayage highlights, as styled by FDP Prestige Haircare. IMAGE: FDP Prestige Haircare
WHAT IT CLAIMS TO DO
FDP Prestige Haircare offers to customise your hair colour service according to the condition of your hair and the style that you’re going for. The salon’s colourist will also keep your face shape in mind, in deciding on the placement of colours and hair colouring techniques used.
Their chief stylist Angeline, says she will craft a look that can make your new hair colour frame your face in the most flattering light. A spectrum of dyes will be placed strategically onto different sections of hair, to give it depth and dimension in colour.
WHAT WE THINK ABOUT …
A short 15 to 20 minute consultation will be held before you start on your hair colour session. The hair stylist will ask for details of your history of past hair treatments, as well as the type of makeup that you would use.
“If you do not have the habit of using makeup, I will have to select colours that can flatter your features even without makeup,” explains Angeline. She shares that this is important for Asian women with softer features; blonde hair and other lighter hues will appear ‘flat’ on these women.
“That’s why what works on Nicole Kidman for instance, may not work on you,” Angeline adds frankly. “So most Asians should avoid murky colours like orange brown and copper blonde, which will not look flattering against their skin colour.”
In my case, I had wanted more lustrous-looking brown locks, but with a fun touch of red. So Angeline picked three primary shades for me: a coffee brown base colour, matched with honey brown and red blonde hues as the highlights.
As I have long, thick hair that run past my shoulders, the process took nearly five hours in total; so if you’ve long locks too, do keep most of your day free for this hair colour job.
TEXTURE & SCENT
Prior to this, I’ve never had highlights done on my hair, so I was a bit anxious about how this would affect my already dry and colour-treated hair.
Thankfully, I did not experience that stinging sensation on my scalp, common with other hair colour treatments that I’ve done in the past. The process was actually both painless and odourless when Angeline used the SynchroLift by Paul Mitchell product to bleach sections of my hair. After painting the product onto my tresses, she wrapped those layers of hair with heated foil.
Once that bleaching agent had been absorbed for at least 20 minutes, Angeline then proceeded to paint the base colour onto my hair. This is for “colour correcting” the damage done to my locks; the past colour treatments that I had gone for had left my hair an uneven mix of dark brown. Plus, my black roots were starting to show as well.
After that, Angeline proceeded to paint the brighter tones onto my hair with the dyes she’d selected from Italian salon brand Vitality’s. She shares a tip: Frame your face with darker locks as these can create a slimming effect. Brighter hues should be placed further away from the circumference of your face.
The entire process took much longer than I’d expected as Angeline would painstakingly select and apply the dyes to different sections and layers of my hair, depending on how the light would fall on my locks. It’s almost like seeing a painter at work, except that she’s working with hair instead of canvas to bring out these different colour tones on my tresses.
Close-ups of the final look, right after the session at FDP Prestige Haircare
I love the result! I like how dramatically different my hair can look, depending on how I’ve decided to arrange it for the day. The blonde streaks hidden between layers of my darker locks also create a “light-catching” effect, which makes my hair appear more radiant. My naturally wavy hair did not look as lacklustre as before, which was aggravated by the hair-straightening treatments that I had done previously.
Although the brighter red tones have since faded a few weeks after my trip to the salon, the final look of shiny, “multi-dimensional” hair has been kept. While my roots are growing out, they look far less visible; I can keep it for about two months or so, without needing an extra visit to the salon in between.
Total score: 23/25
The balayage highlighting session that we reviewed is priced between $300 to $400; prices vary accordingly to hair length, condition of your hair and the treatments that you’ve opted for, as advised by your stylist.