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DIY Balayage Highlights

My DIY Nov 16, 2011

Recently I decided that I wanted a change for my hair – and thought at-home balayage (fancy French term for hand-painted highlights) would be a good way to experiment. Even though it’s been around for a while, I still love the look of Alexa Chung’s subtle highlights (seen here). This is what I did.
You Need:
  • A home highlighting kit (I used L’Oreal Perfect Blond). Don’t get blond dye as that won’t lighten your hair.
  • An old shirt and towel
  • A clock or stopwatch
How to:
1. Open the highlighting kit and mix up the dye as directed on the pack.
2. Brush dry and unwashed hair.
3. Using a mascara wand, apply the dye to the bottom few inches of my hair, and then rub it in with your hands (in gloves!). I kept the dye way below my chin line, but how far you go up will probably depend on your hair length and how obvious you want it.
4. Use the wand to do a few lighter strands up the hair a little so you don’t get a harsh line.
5. Wrap your hair up in an old tea towel and pin it to the top of my head while waiting. You don’t want to get any of the bleach on your skin.
6. Check the colour after 10 minutes by removing some of the dye – re-cover if it’s not light enough or wash out if it is. I kept mine on for 20 mins and then washed out. I then quickly blowdried to get an idea of the actual colour change.
7. Apply the dye again but this time only to the ends for 10 mins. This is to get a gradual change in colour and an ombre affect. You can do this as many times as you like until you get a look that you like.
8. Wash out, deep condition and style.
VERDICT
To be honest, this was quite a traumatic experiment for me. I’ve never had my hair coloured before (ever) so I was really shocked when I took the dye off the first time. Like, really really. But it’s sort of growing on me… Haha.
It’s definitely an easy thing to do at home – you can simply keep applying the dye to the ends for 10 minutes or so until you get the desired result. Oh and did I mention that this process can cost you upwards of a couple of hundred dollars in salons? Although I do think it’s best to get a friend to help you do this so you can do the back properly.
In retrospect I should have done a strand test before I started, but I was too excited to do it so I didn’t bother (refer to the photo of me with the gloves on). I suggest you do this and monitor the colour change. Mine isn’t overly blond because I don’t think it would suit me, but you can make it as blond as you like – even white blond! I also popped into the hair dresser and had a budget ($10) trim (about an inch off) after doing it so that the ends were healthy, as bleaching like this can really dry out your hair. That isn’t essential though. Oh and also I dont think it’s a good idea to do this on already coloured hair. One key thing is that I will probably only wear my hair curly with this look, as it is quite obvious on straightened hair.
The best thing about this sort of hair project is that if you are really unhappy with it you can always chop it off. Why not experiment? If anyone has any tips for this process I would love to hear them. I’ve heard that if you do it on wet hair with a coating of conditioner the blending of the colours is better. Does anyone have any experience of this?
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