Dr. StrangeLocks, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and DIY Balayage

February 27, 2018 • Look Good / Beauty

Balayage on a budget.

For lazy girls like myself, balayage is the ultimate hair color trend – the naturally sun-kissed, grown-out look doesn’t require much upkeep, so I don’t have to keep running to the salon every 3 weeks for a touch-up. That being said, it can still be quite expensive – typically around $200 per visit. So, being the dedicated beauty editor that I am, I decided to put my locks on the line in the name of science and attempt DIY balayage.

It’s worth mentioning that my only previous experience with at-home hair color was an unfortunate incident involving a full bottle of Sun-In the summer before 8th grade—my hair was orange until winter break. But I figured now that I’m an adult, I’m fully capable of handling this. I think.

Phase 1: Gathering Supplies (& Courage)

I decided to go with the ‘twisting’ technique, which involves twisting your hair into a bunch of small sections and painting color onto the ends. It seemed fairly straightforward, and I already had most of what I needed:

  • Gloves
  • Comb
  • Sectioning clips
  • Creme hair dye
  • Moisturizing shampoo & conditioner
  • Towel

For the rest I moseyed on down to the closest beauty supply store. Trying to decide which color dye to use was a bit overwhelming, but I went with one about 3 shades lighter than my natural color, a good starting point for balayage.

Total damages: $16.04.

Phase 2: Doing the Deed

48 hours before the big event, I did a patch test just to be sure I wasn’t allergic to any of the ingredients in the dye… am I the only one who follows manufacturer’s instructions to the T? Once I was in the clear, it was time to begin. Deep breath, and:

  • Follow the instructions on the box to prep the hair dye.
  • Put on your gloves and drape the towel around your shoulders, to keep dye from staining your neck or clothes.
  • Part hair evenly down the center of your head, and use a sectioning clip to secure the right side.
  • On the left side, divide hair into four or five 2-inch sections, and secure each with a clip close to the scalp.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Taking one section at a time, twist the hair tightly in your fingers and apply the hair dye to the bottom ⅔ of the twist, down to the ends (the higher you apply color, the higher your highlights will start).
  • Once dye has been applied to every section, allow the color to process according to the directions. (I wrapped these ends in cling wrap and secured with elastics to save my furniture while I indulged in a snack ‘n’ mask sesh.)
  • When time is up, wash the dye out with a moisturizing shampoo/conditioner combo.

Phase 3: The Reveal

When I got out of the shower, I was expecting to look in the mirror and have an out-of-body experience. But I was surprised to find that, once dried, my hair still looked like my hair – just with that beachy, sun-kissed vibe. The twisting technique kept the dye from creating a drastic line of color all the way around my head.

Instead, it blended gradually into my darker roots. All in all, this DIY balayage process saved me about $140, was fairly simple and only took about an hour. This beauty editor says: approved!


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