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How to DIY Balayage at Home, According to a Balayage Expert

Everyone strives to achieve that lived-in color and balayage makes that possible. That being said, it isn’t cheap. Balayage hair highlights can range anywhere from $150 to $200, with some running upwards of $250. For how incredible the color turns out, we often don’t feel bad paying that much for the hair of our dreams. But that’s not the case with everyone. There’s a high volume of you out there who’d prefer to take matters into your own hands. The search volume for DIY balayage and at-home balayage is high, much higher than we’d expect. We want to give the people what they want, so we reached out to balayage artist and educator Jessica Scott Santo to get the lowdown on how to DIY balayage at home. Keep reading for her advice on whether or not you should do it, how to do it, and what to do if it all goes wrong!

But First, Should You DIY Balayage?

Before you scroll down to the steps of creating balayage at home, Jessica warns that doing so isn’t for everyone. “If you’re not a stylist, I would definitely recommend going to one instead of trying to do it yourself,” she states. “Stylists have a license and know the chemistry behind color. They know what to do to make sure your hair stays healthy while lightening the hair.”

So if you’re not a stylist, you likely shouldn’t try to create your own balayage look. It may be safer to find a stylist who can create the lived-in color you desire. Doing it yourself may not be the best bet. However, we’re not going to stop you if you want to go for it. Don’t say we didn’t warn you though.

Supplies You’ll Need

For your DIY balayage, Jessica recommends picking up the following supplies:

  • Clay Lighter for hand painting
  • Developer
  • Balayage brush
  • Clips for sectioning
  • Paddle (if needed)
  • Balayage wrap (to keep the sections clean and incubated)
  • Other coloring supplies for glazing the hair to get the desired tone

Generally, most hairstylists should have these supplies on hand. If you aren’t a stylist, finding these things may be a little tricky. So again, just a fair warning you’re likely safer going to a stylist.

How to DIY Balayage at Home

Jessica shares that when she does balayage on her hair, she likes “to start from the bottom up. That way the hair underneath does not get distributed as you’re coloring the rest of the hair.” From there, you’ll want to paint your lightener on. Jessica stresses ensuring “the hair stays taught so you’re not pushing the lightener through the hair shaft and causing warm bands and a spotty application.”

Another important part of the process is using balayage wraps. “As you complete each section, use a balayage wrap to help incubate each section and have the sections stay nice and clean within,” she says.

For application tips, Jessica stresses you “make sure you do not feel the bristles of the brush touch the hair. You don’t want to wipe off the product you just applied.” To avoid doing this, she suggests “painting on feather-light strokes so you can build up the lightener onto the hair shaft. The more product that is built onto the hair, the higher the lift the hair will get.”

As far as timing goes, Jessica suggests checking “the hair every 10 minutes to see how the hair is lifting. Depending on what lightener you use, it can stay on between 20 to 40 minutes on average.” Be sure to keep an eye on it as you go.

What to Do If It Doesn’t Turn Out as Planned

What are you to do if your at-home balayage didn’t turn out as expected? It happens and we did warn you, so there’s also that. If you’re a stylist, you likely know what to do. But if you aren’t Jessica shares you shouldn’t touch your hair any further. Head to a stylist you trust immediately and have them fix the issue. “Leave it to the professionals and call your stylist right away to get an appointment at a salon where they can address the problem to fix it,” Jessica stresses. And hopefully, you’ll remember this experience when you decide to try at-home balayage again.

Want better, brighter balayage? Follow THESE six tips!

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