How to Balayage Your Own Hair

Ombre Bayolage Hair Lead
Photo: Frank P. Wartenberg/Picture Press via Getty Images

eSalon wants you to go completely Bob Ross on your highlights. With the launch of their upcoming Lightlab kit, the brand is expanding their DIY hair color family to include the balayage technique, and believe it or not, it's not as intimidating as you think. Highlights and eyebrows are two areas we'd typically leave for the professionals, but eSalon's method makes the process pretty foolproof. One of the brand's on-hand experts will determine your perfect formula using knowledge of your base color, hair type and texture, and the direction you want to take your highlights into creating your kit. For $35 ( coming soon), you'll get a full set including lightener, developer, and toner tailored to your needs delivered to your door, as well as the necessary tools and how-to steps for mastering the technique. Considering that the whole idea behind the balayage method is to hand-paint your highlights, you'll be able to create a sun-kissed effect using your basic understanding of elementary arts and crafts, particularly in the watercoloring field. If you like your own effect better than your stylist's, you can get the kit auto-renewed whenever you need a touch-up for $28 per set. Keep a damp towel on hand to clean up your gloves or excess dye around the face, and read on for the step-by-step instructions for giving your own hair the balayage treatment.

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  • Start with clean, dry hair. Once you've laid out all of the contents of the package and mixed your color to a creamy consistency, section your hair into workable areas. Use the tail end of the comb to create top, middle, and bottom sections separated out in a halo-esque part around the head, from ear to ear.
  • If your hair is short, you can apply your color using the comb. Swirl the teeth of the comb into the lightener, then swipe it along the sides of the bowl to remove excess formula. Take the tail end of the comb to separate a thin, one-inch section of hair out, and run the teeth of the comb from the mid-lengths to ends. The spine of the comb can be used to even out the dye, and your fingers can be used to blend it through.
  • For long hair, use the brush to apply your highlights. Brush on the mixture at a steep slant, working from mid-lengths to ends. Use the tail end of the brush to separate out a thin strip of hair at the opposite side of your head, and repeat the motions, working from front to back and alternating sides as you go.
  • Add more mixture to your comb or brush as needed, and repeat on the rest of your head, ensuring each strip is evenly covered. Working from front to back, alternating from side to side, will be your best bet. This ensures your highlights will develop evenly.
  • Working with the back areas of hair can get tricky—continue separating out thin half-inch to inch-long strips, but instead of brushing on the dye in a downward direction, pull the strand of hair up or to the side so that you can see exactly where the color is going in the mirror. Drop it down in the back once you finish.
  • As you get to the top section of hair, part it as you normally would prior to placing highlights. This will help you to apply the color in areas where the sun would naturally hit. Continue taking out thin strips of hair from front to back, and either painting or brushing the lightener from mid-length to end as you see fit.
  • Allow the color to process for the allotted amount of time in your instruction kit (usually about 20 to 30 minutes), and once you finish, rinse out the mixture with the included shampoo until all of the lightener is out of your hair. Follow with a generous layer of the customized toning mask. Short hair will need to use about half the tube of toning mask, whereas longer hair may need the whole tube.
  • Rinse out the toning mask, blow-dry and style as you normally would, then show off your handiwork on your social media platform of choice.
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