I am a Sucker and Refreshed My Highlights

Beauty Skeptic's Balayage

Remember earlier this year when I decided to discontinue my highlights?

I thought I was pretty steadfast in that decision. They’re growing out alright, and as it turns out, a nice curling iron can cover a multitude of touchup-absent-related sins. But man, I really enjoyed having light hair.

I happened to see that my salon corrected its wildly crazy price structure. My birthday rolled around. We spent less money in general than I anticipated we would, recently, and I decided, “Treat yoself!”

So I made an appointment and refreshed my highlights! They plied me with margaritas made with lime sherbet (!) and balayaged my hair. They were running a promotion, too, where any service was accompanied with a complimentary brow sugaring. Yeah – sugaring! It is neat.

In case you missed it, this is how I care for my balayage highlights and keep them brass-free.

The Verdict on my Balayage Highlights

I unexpectedly had to reinstall my image editing software, so the graphic for my April Favorites was not done in time for Favorites to go live today. SOON, and thank you for bearing with me. :)

Balayage Prep

It took me a while to work up the nerve to pursue balayage a couple years ago. I loved the first two appointments, but my third was lackluster. The salon, which I enjoy in a general sense, switched up my colorist without notice for my third appointment. She didn’t do a great job, and I’m not okay with just feeling, “okay,” with the results of that kind of beauty spending.

I rescheduled, wrung my hands, and ultimately canceled my most-recent appointment (around St. Patrick’s Day). At the time, I decided I was done spending several hours and over a hundred dollars, twice a year, on it. I know that, compared to most people who color their hair, my commitment was barely that. I resolved to give myself more time to formulate my final verdict on my balayage highlights.


“Maybe,” I wondered to myself, “I could do this myself.” I’ve done plenty of other things that are generally pro-only. I’m educated, risk-averse, and tend to adhere to process. Down the rabbit hole I went to learn about levels, lightener, developer volume, processing times, etc. I was surprised to learn that it sounds a lot easier than one might expect if one is working with hair that has not been previously colored or otherwise chemically tampered-with.

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How To: Preserve Blonde Hair

I’ve had blonde balayage highlights for almost two years now. I have the distinct pleasure of having hard water as well, which means two years of preserving blonde hair by navigating brassy wasters with various purple-tinged potions. Even though I decided recently to discontinue undergoing the process with the salon I was working with, the jury of one is still out on whether I’m done-done, or just done with that salon for now. Regardless of whether I continue, I still have many months of preservation ahead so I don’t look like a clown.

Step One: Squeaky Clean

Good news – clarifying shampoos can be found in the drugstore away from the premium, salon brands. I use this inexpensive one from TRESemme ($0.16 per ounce); in spite of being a clarifying shampoo, it is gentle and does not lead my scalp to mutiny. I’ve had good luck with Suave’s ($0.06 per ounce) too.

Using a clarifying shampoo is like any other shampoo. Lather up, then rinse. Done!

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Balayage Update

Balayage Prep

Having delayed and rescheduled my last appointment, I was due to have my next balayage session on St. Patrick’s day. I don’t treat myself to salon treatments very often (balayage just twice a year, and rare mani/pedis aside), so I was looking forward to it.

In spite of that eager anticipation of a few hours of very girly, “treat yo self,” time, my uncertainty about my hair has continued.

I enjoy having my hair a bit lighter than its virgin state, but

  • Salon visits are time-consuming and inconvenient
  • Salon appointments are expensive
  • I wasn’t thrilled with my most recent results

I’ll call a spade a spade – I’m a demanding customer. When you spend so much on a service, you expect to walk away feeling more than just, “okay,” with it.

Other Goals

I’ve had a shift in priorities in the last six months or so. Our financial goals shifted and we decided to decrease discretionary spending. We didn’t eliminate all of our, “fun,” and had made room for certain planned things – like this. Ultimately, though, I came to question the idea of this splurge in the face of the other things (less expensive/impactful towards our goals) that I limited or eliminated.

Balayage Appointment Reminder

The Wednesday before, I received an appointment reminder that revealed the colorist I was booked with was the same one as before. I visited their site to see if they had any specials running (sometimes they did a free bonus service with a certain amount spent) but instead found that they increased their price for the balayage service by 50%. WHOA.

Coupled with my uncertainty about continuing, I decided to interpret these things as a sign to cancel. So I did.

So Now What?

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The Haul-idays / No Buy / State of Things

No Buy


Since the sale I bought C Firma during, I allowed myself to spend a little more on beauty-related products during the holidays.

In addition to the MiroPure Straightening brush, I bought:

  • Another hair tool to try. There’s no universe in which I would have dropped money (>$125!) on a Beachwaver but I got the InstaWave for $25.
  • A few more Gelaze colors to play with. I hadn’t purchased any gel polish in nearly a year!
  • Some extra Clarisonic brush heads. There was a Cyber Monday sale – got two Radiance heads for $24. Not as excellent as my usual purchase of 4 for $64 (4 pack for $81 + 20% off).
  • A new (to me, not new release) Real Techniques brush. I didn’t really have anything to use on my whole, finished face to blend any edges that I missed, and for $4 on sale I figured it was fair.

Holiday Stuff

In all, I found myself yet again underwhelmed by the holiday offerings put out by most brands. It does look like Fenty Beauty rose to the occasion (still haven’t tried anything from Fenty, though), but everything else fell flat to me. Even Urban Decay who, in spite of my occasional criticism, I generally enjoy, swung and missed (me).

The only thing I found myself tempted by were the new Heavy Metal glitter liner shades – but given that I have few opportunities to even wear the one I own (Midnight Cowboy), I refrained from adding more to my collection. Glitter eyeliner, after all, is not appropriate for work.

State of Things

Now for some general, “state of things,” updates on things I’ve talked about but not super-recently.

No Buy

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