By Victoria Moorhouse
Updated Oct 23, 2018 @ 12:15 pm
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Unless you and your hair colorist are super tight, your balayage hair color appointment is going to set you back at least $150. No one ever said those super natural, sun-kissed highlights didn't come without a cost. If you can't swing the cash but still desperately want those grown-out highlights, you still have options thanks to Madison Reed's DIY balayage kit. It's just a little more hands on.

To mimic the hair painting technique that a colorist will use to balayage your hair in a salon, the hair color brand developed a $45 kit that includes a wishbone-shaped tool to apply the color. The ammonia-free color, which holds a clay consistency, should is first applied directly to the applicator, which kind of looks like a weird-shaped hairbrush.

The next step for any user is pulling the tool through your hair. The tool disperses less color near the root, and more towards the end of the hair shaft, as you pull it down towards the ends. This supposedly creates that dark-to-light slightly ombred color gradation.

While we haven't given it a try first-hand, the videos below should give you a better visual of what the process would look like for different hair textures and lengths, from shoulder-length and curly to long and straight.

If you already have highlights but just want a refresh, the brand says to place the tool about 4-5 inches away from the roots so you still get that grown-out vibe.

The kit also includes a toning glaze, which is meant to be applied after the hair lightener to take out any orangey tones from the newly lightened hair and to make the hair look shinier and glossier, color-safe care products, gloves, a cap, detailed directions, and more items that are meant to make the process has mistake-free as possible, but the pressure is still on you to get it right.

When it comes to the color of the highlights, you're limited. The kit only comes in four shades — two for medium blonde-to-brown hair and two for dark brown-to-medium brown hair. While there's a quiz on the brand's site that's supposed to help you pick the right shade, you're not getting that in-person consolation (or color personalization) that you would at a salon.

Still, if you're in the market for super budget balayage and have confidence in your inner colorist, you might not be able to beat this buy.