Jessica Alba, Olivia Palermo and Lily Aldridge (above) are big fans of balayage, a dying technique invented in the ’80s where hair is hand-painted to give it a sun-kissed effect. The dye is applied to the surface of the hair with a brush then blended for a natural look. Here, Justine Levesque, a colourist at Dessange Australia in Paddington, Sydney, tells us how to get great balayage…

How is balayage done?
“There is not a specific order or place to start because each balayage is personalised, therefore the colourist’s creativity is key. Our colourists use a ‘painting’ technique that is adapted to the result you wish to achieve. We may start at the roots or choose to only colour from mid-length. The perfect balayage is one that reflects your personality. It can also evolve according to your desires as colours and highlights are always reinterpreted.”

What’s the difference between balayage, foils and ombré?
“The main difference lies in the result; balayage relies on the colourist’s expertise to recreate the natural highlights you would develop after spending time under the sun. It isn’t possible to obtain natural-looking highlights with foils and avoiding the use of aluminium [used to create foils] allows us to better preserve the quality and health of the hair. We use cotton, which is a natural material that doesn’t overheat the hair. Balayage starts from the roots of the hair, while ombré generally starts mid-length and goes all the way down to the tip. Ombré really accentuates the light on the lengths and ends.”

Does balayage conceal regrowth better than other colouring techniques?
“Yes, it does. With balayage your highlights are less intense at the roots, allowing your regrowth to be less visible when it appears. Our colour services are anchored by the expertise of L’Oréal Professionnel, which is renowned as the world’s leading and most innovative colour brand.”​

Can balayage be applied to any hair colour?
“A great balayage illuminates a woman’s face. It should be natural, personalised and above all, unique. It’s expertly blended to complement the hair’s natural colour. This is why balayage can be performed on light as well as dark hair and there is no difference in the technique. It’s important that balayage is harmonious with the woman’s style and personality.”

What shades do you recommend?
“For lighter hair colours we offer the Dessange Californian Blonde range, with its variety of shades. If you have darker hair, you may wish for shades like chocolate, warm or cold brown, cinnamon, hazelnut or caramel.”

How often does the hair have to be coloured?
“Because there are so many different balayages, our colourists advise a maintenance schedule depending on the results you wish to achieve but also on the quality of your hair. A ‘Californian’ balayage needs to be maintained every six to eight weeks. To maintain a ‘Tie and Dye’ balayage, you should come to the salon every 10 to 12 weeks.”

What is your number-one piece of advice for a client considering balayage?
“Balayage always looks best on healthy hair and a healthy scalp. Therefore, our expert colourists recommend the use of quality products at home that are adapted to your hair and scalp. We recommend monthly hair treatments to improve the quality of the hair and maintain the shine of the balayage.”