Hot Hair Trend: Balayage Highlights

I'm addicted to highlighting my "mousy" brown hair, but after almost two decades of transforming myself into a blonde, let's just say my strands aren't exactly in fighting shape. Factor in styling tools, a straightening treatment, and constant blow drying, and you can see why breakage and I have become BFF.

So when I met up with Celebrity Hairstylist Rita Ragone, I had a tall order: natural looking "Claire Danes" style highlights. Shinier hair. Fewer split ends. (Oh, and don't cut too much off, OK?)

Rita instantly suggested "balayage." While it sounds like a fancy French ballet move, balayage is actually a highlighting technique that uses paper or cotton to keep your strands separated. This lets your hair "breathe," as opposed to when its sandwiched in between your typical foil. 

Want to know more? Rita recently filled me in on all things balayage, and why everyone from Jessica Biel to Kim Kardashian have given it a try. 

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With balayage, do you use the same dye/bleach that you would with foil highlights? Technically, yes. It's the overall technique that truly makes balayage unique.

Why do you think this technique is growing in popularity? When done properly by an expert, it will achieve a beautiful, multi-dimensional, sun-kissed look on any hair color. Personally, I have always done balayage, never foil, and my clients appreciate the speciality involved in the whole process. Foil is cheaper to use, and the weaving technique is much different. You can also achieve an edgy effect with balayage by switching the technique around, but the end result is always beautiful hair.

What are the benefits of balayage? Everything about balayage is beneficial! First, the weaving technique is extremely specialized, and a bit more time consuming, but the hair processes faster by using your natural body heat. Even when the client is placed under the dryer for a few minutes, it still creates gorgeous, multi-faceted hair color.

Second, the paper used is more gentle. If you've ever felt that your hair "won't grow," it may be because you've been using foils. Hair will break under the stress of being suffocated in foil with bleach under high heat. Foils literally cook the hair. As I tell my clients, we cook with foil, we don't do hair with it!  

With balayage, there is generally little to no breakage, and hair is left super shiny and healthier than when a client walked in! The "grow out" is also gentler looking. When done properly, your highlights look great as they grow. It's truly magical!

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When should someone choose balayage over traditional foil highlights? I believe they should choose balayage every time! No comparison!

Does this technique work better on certain types of hair...or on certain colors? No, balayage is great for everyone! 

How important is it to find someone who is properly rained in this technique? Are there certain questions you should ask your stylist beforehand? This is such a great question. So many stylists are not trained to do balayage, but do it anyway. And the one who suffers is the client. Definitely ask to see pictures of the stylist's balayage work. Also, ask if the stylist uses papers or cotton. Using papers gives your hair more dimension because you can add layers of other colors. Using cotton is a bit less strategic. If the stylist uses plastic wrap as a foil-BEWARE! It will have the same effect as foil and will "cook" your hair because it's enclosed. 

How much does it typically cost? Balayage ranges from $250-$600.The beauty of the balayage technique is that you can achieve color-correction with minimal damage to the hair, thus the difference in price range.

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One of the most illustrious makeup artists and hairstylists in the industry today, Rita Ragone has designed looks for the world's most prominent movie stars, television stars, dignitaries, athletes and houses of fashion. Her massive client roster includes such luminaries as President Bill Clinton, Sharon Stone, Sarah Ferguson The Duchess of York, Maury Povich, Peggy Fleming, Linda Dano, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Colin Farrell, Jon Bon Jovi, Sylvester Stallone, Betsy Johnson, the NY Yankees, NY Mets, the NFL and the NBA to name a few... 

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