I have long looked at hair color as a means of expression. From precision highlights to dramatic, dark hues to a lavender purple… your hair color tells a story about who you are. And if balayage were to say something about the women who rock the trend, it would say things like “sophisticated, cultured, intelligent, effortless beauty”. Who doesn’t want to make that statement? This look is only gaining in popularity and now, more and more hairdressers are beginning to take classes and specialize in this unique style of coloring the hair.
The trend that’s quite literally sweeping the nation has been around for nearly forty years,tracing its roots back to a little salon in Paris in the 70′s. While it stayed safely nestled in Europe through much of the dramatic, foil highlighted days of the 80′s, the technique made its way to us in America by the 90′s. It was mostly used on celebrities who were lucky enough to visit European trained colorists and pay top dollar for the best in hair color.
When Sarah Jessica Parker began rocking the sun-kissed, dimensional color pattern in the last days of Sex & The City, every fashionista in the nation was on board. We wanted to know exactly what that dewy, natural looking color, perfectly accentuating her big curls was. And when social media became a useful tool for sharing the details of what this beautiful new trend was and younger up and comers like Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port traded in their foils for the softer, European style, a phenomenon was born. Officially.
And It’s Here To Stay.
Today, we love this technique because of the statement it makes. I think American women have latched on for a multitude of reasons (8-12 weeks between retouches anyone?), but most importantly, I think we like the story it tells about us. It’s been a tool to give American women that laissez-faire yet chic French vibe. It’s a way of saying you don’t take yourself too seriously, but you somehow always seem to look effortlessly pulled together. It has absolutely revolutionized the way we think about highlighting and contouring in the hair. And on top of the statement it makes, it can drastically enhance and accent your haircut and style like no other technique can. Balayage can give the illusion of length if you’re in the process of growing out your hair, it can add width to your style to balance out a long face shape or it can even just add points to give drama to an asymmetrical cut. It is structure and technique and knowledge. But it is also freedom and creativity and style. Balayage is both customization and classic skill. And in that, we Americans have just fallen in love.