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Before balayage was a hair trend it was just a technique — freehanded dye-painting that allowed a colorist to create soft, natural-looking highlights. But the look can be anything but natural if you are into shockingly amped-up colors like purple, blue, turquoise, red, aqua or any other color of the rainbow that strikes you. It’s a dramatic departure from natural-looking, sun-kissed shades, for sure. Balayage meets ombre. So, how do you know if balayage is for you? Do these 23 balayage hairstyles inspire you? Do you like the way each strand varies? If you do, ask for the balayage technique next time you go for color.

You could DIY this, using a similar color melt technique. but you may not want to. Balayage this vivid can benefit from the hand of an artist, free-forming color onto your hair in downward sweeping patterns. A professional colorist is going to be able to look at your hair at various angles, observe where it catches the light and how it frames your face and apply color to just certain strands. There’s no right or wrong way to go with a vibrant color balayage.

Maintenance is always a consideration. While natural-color balayage is well-loved for being low-maintenance, vibrant colors like blue and teal are going to fade and grow out, leaving you needing some kind of touch-up. To keep your new vibrant color looking good longer, delay washing your hair after having it colored and thereafter wash it as little as possible or use a dry shampoo. As the color fades, you will want to refresh it. You can accentuate the vibrant color by using a semi-permanent color wash. Or if you are seeing your colorist for a root touch up, she can also refresh the balayage.

Though balayage has become so popular that it’s now commonplace in salons on both coasts and in big cities, it’s synonymous with natural, so you if you want a vibrant color, you may want to ask generically for “hair painting”. If you see your stylist reach for foils, stop everything and have a discussion about the technique, which is a departure from the traditional way of applying color in blocks. Foils will not be needed. An exception to this would be if you have very dark brown or black hair. Dark hair may require the heat from foils to get a vibrant color take. If this is the case, your stylist may want to combine both techniques, and we like the way she thinks!

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