Have you ever booked a balayage service hoping for a perfectly platinum blonde, and ended up with something dirty blonde and muddy? Have you ever checked your phone halfway through a hair appointment and realized you've been in the chair for over 2 hours and your stylist JUST finished applying your color? Have you ever left the salon wondering why you paid $300 for a service when her website said that a full highlight was only $150?
I want to clear up the mystery that surrounds these extensive color services and shed light on what is REALLY going on while you're in the chair. There are some tricky words that require some explanation on our part, and they also require caution on your part. If you want to talk in hairstylist terms with a hairstylist, it's best for you to really understand the words you're using. There are plenty of photos on Instagram and Pinterest that may confuse clients, and you could come in asking for a "balayage" when that's not really what you need. Below are some examples of tricky terms:
Balayage is an application process (not a specific effect) usually used to create soft transitions and gradients in hair color. "Balayage" en francais means "sweeping/scanning." Generally balayage applications process in open air. It's pretty, it's intended to be natural in its effect, and it takes a good long while to fully process. The french created this technique, and one thing we know (and love) about the french is that they embrace NATURAL colors, textures, and elements when it comes to beauty. If you come in with dark brown hair wanting to be a light ashy blonde, balayage may not be for you. I know it's a hot buzzword, but please know that it was designed for a very low lift.
I know your hair lifts yellow (or red, or orange). Believe it or not, every single person's hair lifts that way. No one's natural hair lifts blue, or green, or violet. The reason your hair lifts with warm tones is because of the natural pigments in your hair. Hair darkness/lightness is categorized by a level system, generally ranging from 1-10 (some color lines work with a slightly different scale, but leave that to us). 1 is darkest black hair, 10 is lightest blonde. Dark hair (about levels 1-4) will ALWAYS lift through red, then orange, then yellow, then a pale yellow before it gets to that lightest blonde color. If your hair is a medium to light brown (about levels 5-7), you may only ever lift through orange, yellow, and pale yellow. If you're naturally dirty blonde (about level 8+), you may only lift through yellow and pale yellow. An educated stylist will know how to lift your hair and how to "tone, gloss, or glaze" your hair in order to cancel out the undesired pigments. I HIGHLY SUGGEST LOOKING UP THE HAIR LEVEL SYSTEM ONLINE.
Honey, caramel, beige, sandy, champagne, chocolate, latte, pearl, ice, and other terms used to describe "tones" are extremely tricky because they're subjective terms. What looks like honey to you may not mean honey to me. You might be thinking Hershey's Bar brown, while I'm picturing more like a Reese's PB Cup. We may drink lattes with completely different amounts of milk, and sandy beaches vary in color. "Tone" refers to the hue of pigment (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet) and not the level (brown, blonde, platinum, etc). For example, you can be a warm or cool brunette, or a warm or cool blonde depending on what tones I deposit into your hair. Are you confused yet? That's why pictures are amazing. They help me to see what you see. Don't be offended if your stylist picks a photo apart in order to get a better idea of what you want. When I ask "What do you like about this photo?" it's so that I can get an explanation from you on what you see, not to suggest that it's a terrible photo. It's important to understand that there is inevitably a language barrier, and we have to do our best to dissect what we hear and translate it into our own hairstylist language. We can agree on a color name for your hair after it's finished, but I may not know what you mean by "champagne blonde" when you first show up.
Now that we have a little bit of foundation laid out, I want to explain my process for coloring hair, based on your desired lift/effect. This will hopefully help you to plan your future services with me, as well as have a better understanding of what actually happens to your hair while you're in my chair. Please keep in mind that all color services require a consultation. All prices are subject to change based on hair length, density, and previous color history.
I consider soft lift to be anything from 1-3 levels of lift. Typically this effect can be achieved through traditional foil work or open air balayage. It is intended for very low maintenance color, soft gradients, and a sun kissed glow. Typically I suggest to plan for 2.5-3 hours and around a $150-$180 investment.
I consider dimensional lift to be between 3-4 levels of lift. Generally done with traditional foil work, this is meant to leave plenty of natural hair out to give a "highs and lows" effect. I achieve this effect through baby lights and a placement that mimics the placement of open air balayage, but it will process in foils to achieve a higher lift (foil=heat=higher lift). A less natural-looking "sun kissed" bonde. I typically book services like this for around 3.5-4 hours, and investment ranges around $170-200.
Maximum lift is taking your hair as light as it will go without compromising the integrity of the hair. Generally hair maxes out at 6 or so levels of lift. Maximum lift services require the hair to process in foils for an extended period of time. This process requires an extensive amount of detail work from me, time from both of us, and commitment on your part. Transitioning from dark to light isn't just a fleeting phase, it's a lifestyle change. Plan to be in my chair for 5 hours and be prepared to have a higher maintenance color. Investment on maximum lift services and complete color changes typically range from $200-300.