My Journey To Blonde (Hair tips, Mistakes, and Highlights vs. Balayage)

My journey to blonde has been a LOOOOONG one! I've been going blonde for about a year now. I first started to consider going lighter after I got really addicted to following hairstylists on Instagram. I would stalk my favorite accounts and save the images of blonde colors I loved, and then eventually decided to take the plunge! Around this time last year I did my first balayage session. Let me quickly explain what balayage is for those of you who are a little lost on what that term means. Balayage is a technique hairstylist use to color a client's hair (similar to highlights). How it's different? It's goal is to give the applicant a more natural look when their roots grow out, instead of foil highlights which tend to leave streaky lines as the hair grows, resulting in more visits to the salon. Balayage on the other-hand, takes larger pieces of hair starting several inches past the root resulting in a more natural and low maintenance appearance as the hair grows. I've listed my pros and cons on the balayage technique vs. foil highlights below to help give you an idea of what might be right for you! And to finish my story, keep reading. 

Balayage Pros:

•       Natural appearance.

•       Low maintenance and easy upkeep.

•       Larger pieces of hair starting at your forehead or lower.

•        Gives a nod to a more overall ombre look.

•       Prettiest on cool medium brown hair or light brown hair for a sun kissed look (but that's only my opinion.)

•       Perfect if you want a shade that is only a few shades away from you natural color. 

Highlight Pros:

•       An overall color starting at the root.

•       Great coverage and even distribution of color.

•       Great for a classic look rather than a trendy look.

•       Using foils also tends to lighten easier, and your desired color may be achieved faster. 

Balayage Cons:

•       For warmer dark browns (like my natural color) it can look brassy against already warm roots in between sessions.

•       I needed to get a toner quite often, because the warmth was more noticeable up against already warm virgin hair. In my experience, some people like that look or don't have really warm hair.

•       The hair will grow, so up keep is still high. In order to lighten over already dyed hair, you can't let it grow out too much in between sessions or you'll be starting over each time, to get your desired look depending on how light your going. 


Highlight Cons:

•       Foil streaks are the worst! They can look dated if not done right. I prefer babylights if I'm going to get highlights vs. traditional foils. Babylights are smaller sections of hair per foil compared to a regular highlight which has larger. The downside is it takes awhile but totally worth the natural look it gives (JUST TIP WELL!)

•       Regular highlights can look streaky and require a lot more maintance than balayage, because your roots grow in fast, and it doesn't allow for a seamless blend. 

            In short, I started with balayage and have gone through 4-5 sessions using that technique since last year. After awhile, I wasn't very fond of how warm my roots looked next to the contrast of my warmer blonde hair. It looked warm on warm no matter how many toners my hairdresser put in, and she's a genius. It was just the quality of my hair. Everyone has either warm or cool tones to their hair, and warmer tones tend to get brassy if they aren't light enough to cancel the warmth out. It takes a handful…if not more sessions to get to a point where brassiness is no longer an issue, and I'm almost there! During my last appointment (last week) I revealed some of my thoughts and concerns about balayage being the right fit for me, and after hearing my concerns, my hairdresser agreed! She's also very positive and a great listener, which is crucial when it comes to picking a good stylist. She suggested doing a full head of baby-lights, and that's just what we did! She took her time to do a thorough job, my virgin hair lightened amazingly, and gave us a better playing field going forward! Our plan is to switch back and forth from babylights to balayage every other session to keep my highlights from getting too streaky, as well as to continue touching up my roots. Find what works for you, but after a year of doing the hottest trend out there (Balayage) I realized it wasn't for me. Don't worry about what a stylist may prefer or what is the latest thing, instead figure out the look you want, and then ask what technique can acquire that look! Also, be patient! Going blonde without damaging your hair takes time. Trust me, I didn't think it would take this long but my hair isn't breaking or falling out, so I'm grateful I have a stylist that's careful, honest and supportive.

For those in the NYC area check out my amazing coloring stylist, Kat Chase, who works at Dop Dop Salon in Soho. Her Instagram is @hairbykatchase or go to her website


A Hair Color Addict 

Lauren's current hair Routine/recommendations