Adventures in Balayage

Beauty Skeptic's BalayageA peek at some of my balayage highlights.
Excuse my comically bad lighting that does not fully showcase how awesome my hair is.

After lengthy consideration, I decided to go forward with balayage highlights. I went for a consultation on September 13, which is where I gathered my information on how to prepare for my balayage highlighting appointment. Balayage isn’t something new, even if it is a new-ish trend in the United States; but I could swear, of all the haircolor techniques out there, this one was made with me in mind.

I did extensive research and chose a charming salon in my area, had a really positive consult, and was ready. By my September 20 appointment, I was rarin’ to go.

So, Tell Me What you Want

To my consult, I brought the following three photos, found on Pinterest, for inspiration:

Adventures in Balayage - Inspiration

Clients get caught up in trying (and failing) to describe what they’re looking for. Pictures help. But you know what else really helps? Explaining and or showing what you definitely, under no circumstances, do not want. Most balayage highlights create a lovely, ombre effect on the hair – but not all ombre hair is balayage. For me, “ombre,” leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Search Google Images for, “Ombre hair,” and you’ll see what I mean. Severe, harsh transitions. Lines, even. I want nothing about my hair to be harsh, and I grew out a misguided hair choice once before and dealt with awkward lines. Never, ever again. Balayage is french for, “sweeping,” and damn it, that’s what I want. Lines of demarcation are the enemy.

Decisions, Decisions

Armed with those three photos my colorist and I made some decisions together. Notice how I said together? It should be a joint effort. Most of these decisions took place during my consultation. But if you and your colorist don’t agree on the course of action – say, you want X and she thinks you ought to do Y? You’re going to have a bad time. As a client, you should have realistic expectations and asks for your colorist. She or he may well seem like a wizard, but it isn’t magic.

Based on those photos, my expression of my #hairgoals, my habits, and prior aversion to color we decided:

  • As far as color goes, the third option made the most sense to emulate. After all, it’s easier to make more changes down the road than to go, “Shit, I don’t like this as much as I thought I was going to!”
  • Overall placement somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd photo.
  • To place more product at the ends to concentrate a little more blonde color there (like the 2nd photo).
  • …But to overall play it a little safe.

It can be a little intimidating to be in the chair, but when you’re spending money on these services, it’s worthwhile to be 100% sure you’re on the same page. If your stylist or colorist is worth a damn, she or he WANTS to produce results you’re happy with. If the salon you’re working with is not eager to work to that goal, find another salon. Seriously.

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Going Silver, pt 2 – Silver Hair Q&A

Silver HairSilver hair found @

In my last post about silver hair, I shared that I am living vicariously through a close friend who is now living her love of silver hair. She had two appointments the most recent of which was last month, and she graciously agreed to allow me to interrogate her ask her a slew of questions to share with you. Some responses were minimally edited for clarity.

It’s important to note that neither my friend nor I are salon professionals. We haven’t been to beauty school, are not licensed cosmetologists, hair wizards, etc. We are, however, very curious and research obsessed. We tend to exhaust topics like these before jumping into them. Our word is not law and you should always do your own research – including consulting experienced professionals.

Q: Did you like silver hair when you first saw it out there, or did it take seeing it a few times?

A: I guess it would be a bit of both, some people pulled it off really, really well and it looked fantastic – usually those with the darker and more metallic grey-silver. For others it just looked like regular grey or greying hair. Which was flattering on some and not on others, as anything could be. So I guess it took seeing it a few times and establishing a pattern of how and on whom it looks good for me to like it for myself.

Q: How long did it take for the, “You know… maybe I could do that?” thoughts to strike?

A: I guess I answered the second question a bit with the first response! It took a while, between in person and online it was easily a few dozen exposures

Q: You’re naturally blonde, you were masquerading as a brunette for a while. When was the last time you colored your hair prior to your decision?

A: The last time I coloured my hair prior to going silver would be… I want to say March or April of 2015. A combination of my regular stylist going on maternity leave and my fantastically lazy personality I carried with that for much longer than I should have and had significant root growth, which is certainly relevant in this process.

Q: What criteria did you look for in the salon you’re trusting with such an epic task? I’ve seen some people try to go to a Regis with that quest and it didn’t turn out well.

A: What I looked for in the salon was something of a younger, modern, edgier ‘persona’ of the salon itself and how it was marketed, the staff and their personal style, and the pictures posted by the salon of past clients. I figured [a salon with] a more modern and different style would be best. Of course I looked through some examples of silver hair in the gallery to know they were capable of pulling it off.

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Going Silver, pt 1

Going Silvervia Pinterest.
Not my hair!

I am a notorious coward when it comes to haircolor. Once upon a time, I colored my hair when I was young and foolish. Naturally, I picked a red shade not realizing how much of a hilarious pain in the ass red is to maintain.

I wasn’t up for it.

After years of growing it out I decided there would be none of that for a good. long. time.

That was many moons ago, but I’ve remained color-free since. I am highly interested in Balayage highlights. And you know what else piques my interest?

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Ulta Salon Visit

We interrupt this Wednesday’s regularly scheduled programming in favor of a review of my recent Ulta Salon visit experience. Monthly Favorites will run next Wednesday.

A couple years ago, a stylist did a shoddy job with some layering work – they were way too short in comparison to my overall length, placed awkwardly, and not at all the cut I sought despite showing pictures. I spent two years growing them out, ending up with hair past my waist for my wedding, getting trims here and there (surely not the recommended 6-8 weeks) to even it up. Shortly after the wedding, I hacked about four inches off (it was heavy and more hassle than I cared to deal with) but it was still veeeeeeeery long (middle of my ribcage). Although I like my hair long, I still found myself at odds with it at this length – drying took forever, styling was a joke, etc.

I had been wanting another cut for a while and decided to take advantage of a 30% off offer from the nearby Ulta Salon – I set an appointment for after work and scurried  right over over. I was greeted by an Ulta employee who let my stylist know I was there; the same woman offered to take my coat and get me a coffee. While I waited, I checked out the Spa Ritual polish display that sat in front of the salon area.

Ulta Salon Visit - Haircut Inspiration

My stylist led me back to a chair and asked what I was looking for. I presented her with the above photo and explained that I was looking to:

  • Stay long
  • Reduce some weight
  • Add some movement via LONG layers
  • Taper into a slight V shape (like the picture shows).

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