Articles from ‘Highlights’

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Want Balayage?

At Emerson Salon, our stylists aim to create looks that not only look fabulous on you but will also fit in with your coloring, style and maintenance needs. Balayage is a great way for a fashion conscious and low maintenance  guy or gal to have a customized color without having to come into the salon every 8 weeks for touch ups. We have seen many different types of balayage emerge in the last few years since Drew Barrymore introduced it on the red carpet to the mass market in the US. It showed  her dark brown roots blended into bright gold ends 5 years ago but balayage has been around since before that. We are here to educate you on what balayage is and what the different types are.

What is Balayage? Balayage is a french term describing the application method where highlights and/or lowlights are,”swept in.” This application is different than traditional dimensional foiling where the color desired is applied in foils close to the scalp. Although foiling can be a great way to get highlights, it can emphasize a harsh grow out line as the natural color of your hair grows  in contrast to the foiled color.

Balayage can be designed so that the growout is minimized due the soft effect it creates on the hair (even if you get a dramatically lighter highlight.) Pricing with balayage can vary based on stylist, desired effect, history of hair, density and length but generally starts at around $100 and can go up from there. A great way to use balayage is on darker haircolor to “break up”  the darkness slowly over time. This is a great alternative to all over color correction which can be challenging and pricey.

There are a few different methods of applying balayage. Some stylists choose to backcomb or tease the root and then apply the color or bleach in a feathered affect to the sections of hair in the desired effect. Other stylists use cotton to lift up the root and apply the desired result on thin strips of hair and then add clear plastic wrap over the top to keep heat during processing. Both methods are equally effective, it just depends on the preference and training of the stylist. If you are looking for a dramatic difference on the ends, your stylist may choose to use foil to trap the heat so its warmth is consistent on the section for even lightening. What are the different types of balayage? Let’s break it down into subtle, moderate, dramatic, ombre  and dip dye balayage.

***Please be advised: If your hair is colored, your hair must be bleached in order to create a lighter effect. Color does not lift color. Discuss your hair’s color history with your stylist to achieve optimized results and learn about damage risks during bleaching*******


Subtle Balayage

Subtle balayage tends to be a highlight or lowlight that is between 1-3 levels  difference (see above) than the natural level of your hair. This gives a feeling of “sun kissed” highlights like you have been in the sun for awhile. This balayage can have the longest time between touchups if it is not heavily applied close to the root. This is great for working moms, busy students, and for the first time balayage client.



Moderate Balayage

A moderate balayage will be 3-4 levels difference than your natural color (see above) and can be focused on the midshaft to ends,stroked into the front or used closer to the root. This type of balayage might need more maintenance depending on how close the highlight or lowlight is applied to the root. We recommend getting a full balayage with this to start and then schedule a partial balayage to touch it up every 3 months.


Dramatic Balayage

This balayage uses highlights and/or lowlights that are 4-6 levels different on the mid shaft to ends and are usually not applied close to the root due to the contrast that will occur during grow out. If it is applied closer to the root it can shorten time between maintenance visits and is considerd to be a “dramatic” change if starting on darker hair. Be prepared for your friends to say,”WOW! Thats really different than what you had before!” This can be a great way to go from  highlights all over your head to something that will need less maintenance. Its recommended to get regular trims  and conditioning treatments on longer hair that has dramatic balayage because of the possible damage that is incurred in creating the lighter effect. Your hair may also need to be re-toned on a semi-regular basis to keep it shiny and its color saturation even.


Ombre Balayage

An “ombre” balayage is the type where you see a subtle and gradual blend of the darker roots into the dramatically lighter ends that are at least 3-4 levels difference than the natural root color. (see above) This is different than dramatic balayage that utilizes strips of color “popping out” of the base color. Generally, this is an application that requires bleach and can cause breakage or frizz so make sure to use Moroccan Oil to keep them moisturized and protected from heat damage. This application means you don’t have to come in for a retouch for 3-5 months but you may need a retone of the ends due to its damage+porosity every 2 mos.


Dip Dye Balayage

Dip Dye Balayage is basically a bleach and tone ombre balayage with a vivid semi-permanent shade applied instead of a natural looking toner. This type of balayage is super fun and we have seen a lot of it at music festivals and around Capitol Hill, Seattle. You can choose to do pink, teal, purple, orange, neon blue, whatever! At Emerson we have a few different type of semi permanents. If you are looking to keep the chosen hue for awhile we can use Pravanna Vivids with heat to make it last 5-8 weeks. If you want to change up the color regularly we also carry Fabuloso Pro by Evo which is based on fabric technology and will eventually completely shampoo out of your hair in 14-16 shampoos so you can select a different color when you like!

Whats the best way to style a balayage or ombre haircolor? When styling balayage it is recommended to either have a soft round brush blowout or to add soft waves and/or curls as it helps to emphasize the movement in the hair and your new dimensional color.

Excited to try on  some balayage? We are excited to work with you on it! Select a stylist from their profile and contact them directly for an appointment!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Ombre Highlights

In all the gossip and fashion magazines we have been seeing a real trend towards “ombre” highlighted hair. Ombre is a french term meaning,”shaded.” In terms of haircolor, it is the slow melting effect of a darker shade gradually getting lighter towards the ends until the entire ends region is the brightest haircolor on the head.

We have seen this trend show up on Lauren Conrad, Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymow and now, everyday Seattle gals who come in to Emerson Salon! Here, we advise you on how to have realistic expectations of what getting “ombre” will entail so you can make an informed decision before plunging into a new look.

Pros of Ombre Highlights:

This application does not require a lot of regular color maintenance services. Generally, the darkest shade is within 1-2 levels of the natural hair shade and helps to buffer any growout demarcation line. Once the ombre is achieved, you might only need to schedule regular trims, deep conditioning and a toner for the ends.

If you take care of your hair, it can be absolutely gorgeous! It is soft, modern and looks good with browns and auburns or brown and blonds, or beiges and platinum blonds. Make sure your stylist works within a color palette that works with your skin and eye tones. The ombre looks good curled, flat ironed or beach waved as long as you use a nourishing protectant like Kendi Oil by Alterna Bamboo. It is a miracle worker for split ends and adds shine.

Ombre is becoming ripe for experimentation. We’ve seen Drew Barrymore do a reverse ombre with blond roots- midshaft and black ends. Lauren Conrad just did a ponytail dipped in pink. If you can, think outside the box and make yours especially you!

Cons of Ombre Highlights:

In order to achieve the ultra light blond on the ends, most hair will have to be bleached unless the hair is naturally a medium blond or lighter. Bleaching can cause major damage to the hair as it creates explosions within the hair structure that blows the hair shaft and cuticle layers apart. This damage is permanent. It can be colored over but the damage lives in that hair until it is cut out. IMPORTANT: If you switch back and forth between ultra light, to darker, to ultra light, etc you will get breakage. This means loss of fullness and/or length. The longer the hair and the more checkered the chemical history, the more likely the hair is to break or become a gummy mush that can’t be styled or colored. So be careful what you ask for!

The service can use a lot of bleach and a lot of color and depending on your type of hair, its history, and the desired result this can mean a service that ranges from $100 to more of a color correction that can go upwards of $200-250+.

Once highlighted, it can be problematic to add pigment to the ultra light damaged ends. This also can turn into a color correction if the hair needs to be “filled” or stepped down to the desired darker shade. We recommend committing to an application of ombre for a minimum of 3-6 months with regular trims to maintain the least breakage. That way, you get the trend and bang for your buck.

You will need appropriate support products and appointments to repair some of the damage and keep the color looking its best. A great deep conditioner is the Restorative Mask by Moroccan Oil to be used once or twice a week. Its has moisture and protein that can be applied to damp hair for 15-20 minutes at home. Also, use a great shampoo and conditioner line like Luminous Shine by Alterna that is color safe, sulfate free and eco certified.

Always bring a picture of what you think you want your desired result will look like but always be somewhat flexible due to hair type and hair condition. Your stylist will review what the game plan will be to achieve that look and whether that works within your budget for the service, products and maintenance.

These fashion trends can be so fun to play with but always make an educated decision before you color- Hair is your everyday accessory- make sure it always looks and feels its best!

Post by D’Arcy