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Freestyle Balayage vs. Traditional Balayage - What’s The Difference?

Freestyle balayage and traditional balayage are two different hair coloring techniques. While both techniques give you natural-looking results, the approaches are quite different. Learn about the differences between the two techniques to decide which one is best for you.



What is Balayage?

Balayage is a hair painting technique that creates a sun-kissed, natural-looking effect. It is achieved by painting highlights onto the hair in a freehand manner without using foil or meche. This technique can be done with traditional balayage or freestyle balayage. Traditional balayage uses a sweeping motion to create more subtle, blended highlights, while freestyle balayage involves painting individual sections of the hair for more dramatic results.


Analyze the Hair Texture

Analyzing the hair texture is an important step in determining which balayage technique to use. Freestyle balayage often works best on coarser and thicker textures, while traditional balayage works better with finer and thinner textures. As a general rule, if your hair has more than 2” of length or feels thick and coarse, freestyle balayage would be your best choice. If it is shorter and more fine-textured, choose traditional balayage.


Understand the Combination of Techniques

While opting for either traditional or free-style balayage, the stylist may also combine various other techniques to achieve a unique look. In traditional balayage, multiple lightening and toning treatments are often used to create a personalized color design that delicately frames the face. Moreover, skills such as weaving and slicing are combined with painting to create a seamless transition of colors. On the other hand, freestyle balayage is all about artistic expression on hair. The stylists combine multiple lightening techniques with styling methods in order to create wild designs and stunning color gradations.


Traditional balayage is a salon hair coloring technique that involves hand-painting highlights of varying shades onto small sections of the hair, usually with the intention of creating a more natural-looking effect compared to other highlighting techniques. Typically, this method produces subtle transitions between colors and allows for more creative freedom in terms of the desired look.






Freestyle Balayage is a newer, more contemporary approach to hair coloring that results in stunning, sun-kissed highlights with bright pops of color. It's a technique that is becoming increasingly popular due to its versatility and ability to create customized looks. It can be used to add dimension, texture, and depth to any hairstyle while also creating an overall cohesive look.





Learn About Freehand Placement

One of the main differences between freestyle balayage and traditional balayage is the placement of lightening product and toner. While traditional balayage relies on precise and measured applications to create a clean, graduated look, freestyle balayage uses freehand placement that can result in unexpected results and artistic expressions. This technique allows for more creative liberty but also adds a layer of unpredictability as you don’t know exactly how it will turn out. As such, freehand placements require experienced colorists with a deep understanding of the process to ensure the desired outcome.


Look into Diffuse Lighting Application Details

A common technique used in freestyle balayage is called diffuse lighting, which involves the lightening product being placed in multiple directions and varying depth around the hair. This can be especially effective for adding texture to the styling and making balayage highlights look more natural. For example, one layer of diffusion may have lighter pieces at the top near the root while another layer may have darker pieces around the end that are gradually diffused into several shades.


Explore Different Existing Color Options for Balayage Techniques

If you don’t have any idea what color you would like to achieve, you can try out different existing color options. Whether it’s a more traditional warm brown or a bolder remix balayage style with lots of quick vibrant highlights, exploring various color choices can be creatively inspiring. Colorists can also customize the shades and tones further to cater to individual preferences, so there’s always an option to get exactly what you want.


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