Stephanie Johnson


Thoughts and happenings

Is that "Bahl-ay-ahje" or "Boo-lay-aje"?

Surfing through the sea of hair color photos, terms and articles on the internet can be a bit overwhelming for many. It is quite common to be confused by terms like "Balayage" and "Ombre". Hairdressers, of course, love to add to the jargon with mash-ups like "Foilyage" and "Bombre", which can often add to the confusion. 
What does it all mean?
Here is a key to the colorist's terminology for your next appointment:

Balayage - "bah-lay-aj" is a French word that means "to sweep" or "scan". In hair color techniques, it is a word to describe hand-painting the hair. Often with lightening, this allows the stylist to choose the pieces that are to be affected. A stylist can use this technique to create results that are varied in strength ("sun-kissed" to "high-contrast") and placement.

This technique has grown in popularity for many reasons:

  • The results can vary in strength and placement giving you and your stylist many options to choose from. Whether it's just accent pieces and contouring or a full-on Ombre, Balayage is the technique that will often be the chosen one to get you there and is customized to go with desired result.
  • The grow out of balayage hair is often more diffused and easier to live with. Instead of a distinct line of demarcation as the hair grows out (like when lightening to the root all over), balayage can give you some leeway on return appointment expectations. If you're trying to get out of the "blonde to the root" life, this is a way to get out of that pattern.
  • The ease and timing in which the stylist can hand-apply is often much more preferred by those who've done full-foil highlights in the past.
  • Lightener products used for balayage range in strength options allowing a stylist to work with many hair types that may have feared traditional lighteners in the past.
  • Variation: "Foilyage" - mixing the techniques of balayage with some foil highlighting for stronger results.

Ombre - "ahm-bruh" - Another fancy French word meaning "shadow" or "shade". This result is accomplished in various ways but most often with Balayage. The results should shade or blend through from shadow to result. 
Not to be confused with a "shadow root"  -while the result is "rooted" - there are more gradients, or levels, we go through to get Ombre. 

There was a time when Ombre seemed as though it was going to be a passing fad, but it is here to stay. Ombre can be subtle tones or "high-contrast" like in a darker root to much lighter ends. 
Variations: "Bombre" or "Cherry Bombre" is a result that has reds. "Sombre" is a subtle or soft ombre.

Foil Highlights

Foil Highlighting has been around a long time and is a technique staple. A "full foil" is best for more coverage. A "partial" foil is for lightening  crown and above - often leaving the underside - nape area - untouched or handled with another color.

Foils are often a favorite for those who like a lot of blonde coverage or who may have a lot of levels to break through. Foils can also be used to encourage lifting (heat techniques) or to simply separate sections for specialized pieces.
Variation: "Babylights" - often executed with balayage or very fine foiled sections, this is a result that is soft and mimics the sun-lightening of summers passed.

"Shadow Root", "Rooted look" is a result that gives diffusion to a color service, allowing for some contrast for dimension. This is a gloss or smudge technique that can be blended down to achieve a smooth blend. 
his is most often used with blondes.

"Fantasy", "Unicorn", "Mermaid"

A favorite on Instagram, the fantasy hair trends are becoming more popular. Most any color can be created and the range of ideas are nearly endless. 
The appointment needed to get to this is called a "double process" and is so named because there are two processes that happen. 

First, the hair must be lightened to accommodate the desired color results (unless you're already a light blonde). Contrary to what rumors may be out there, a brunette will not get these vivid results without lightening. Brunettes who do not wish to be completely blonde, but want to play with fashion colors, can consider deeper tones or the "oil slick" trends, but there must be a workable palette underneath. We have to consider contributing pigments and a clean canvas is a customizable one.

Depending on your starting point, this process may take multiple appointments. 
Be prepared for your double-process appointment to take many hours. This is not fun for little ones or those in a hurry to reach peak-peacock mode. 
When researching stylists to accomplish this for you, look at if they have done this kind of hair before so you don't end up needing a corrective color appointment.

Fantasy color is high maintenance hair color. The colors are bright and beautiful but are in the "semi-permanent" realm of color products. That means that it will shampoo out in 8 - 10 shampoos. As they shampoo / fade out, deeper tones will often overpower the lighter ones. Pastel tones have less pigment and shampoo out faster than the deeper jewel tones. Some do last longer, yes, and there are many techniques that we share with our fantasy color clients to accommodate their desire to keep their color longer.
e prepared to adopt some changes to your routine or be a more frequent client if this is your desire.

Your existing hair's condition, color, and other contributing factors must be considered. Be aware, too, that your hair may not reach levels to achieve the sought-after silvers or pastels. Have realistic expectations or be open to the colorist's experience and education.
ariations: A double process is also what is required to go from blonde back to brunette lest you risk the dreaded "swampy" or "mossy" look after just a couple of shampoos.

Corrective Color

We have all been there... That night that starts in the box color aisle at the drug store... We're here to help.
Color corrections are appointments that require time, careful consideration and methodical formulation.
These appointments do more than just save that bad box dye job, though. Corrective color is also enlisted to work with hair that has gone too long between appointments.

Once many months have passed, the hair is now subject to biological influences that we must consider such as various temperature contributions and conditions. This affects how the chemistry processes.  Corrective color techniques are also enlisted for those who have damage issues.

No matter what type of process you're wanting for your look, be sure to invest in quality home care products. There is no point to putting hours of time and hundreds of dollars into your hair only to sacrifice it to the ingredients that make bargain cleansing and care products.
There is - absolutely - a difference in the home care product options. Be ready to invest in quality care that will keep the color looking its best for the longest amount of time. 

No matter what you want to achieve, talk to a professional about the goals and the map it takes to get there. If you're ever confused or need clarification, a quality colorist will be glad to go over your concerns with you.
Happy Hair Days and May the Fierce be with You.