31253e4b3d9fb451a11e blonde

Whether your client has blonde ambitions or just wants a taste of the lighter life your arsenal of techniques has likely grown within the last 5 years with the rise of blonding techniques sweeping over social media. Clients are using our own terminology when booking appointments asking for a balayage, babylights, and a money piece. But when should we use each technique and how can we use our knowledge to educate our clients on what is best for their #hairgoals? Follow along with our quick reference blonding guide.


While pronunciation may be a struggle, balayage is the top requested service in salons across America for the last 5 years. So what is considered balayage and when do we use it? The French word balayage literally translated means ‘to sweep’, basically it is a fancy way to say “hand-painted hair”. But aren’t we always “hand-painting” hair when we color? Well, technically yes, but what sets balayage apart is the process and the processing. Balayage is a more organic application with less structured sectioning. It works with natural texture, individual hair density and can be done post hair cut to specifically highlight the layering and shape. A key factor with balayage is that it is typically done with a clay-based lightener and processed in open air, as opposed to incubated in foil. More recently we see the incorporation of cellophane, cotton and other tools to separate sections of hair, just remember that anything that traps heat will give more lifting power.

Ideal Client: Balayage is amazing for curly textures and dense hair looking for a subtle color change. We also love this for any client who wants sun-kissed results and is open to embracing their natural undertones. Virgin hair or hair with a consistent color history responds best to this type of process.


This one may take the cake on tough pronunciations. The important thing to remember about foilyage is that it gives you a balayage-type dimension but with a higher level of lift. While balayage processes in open-air, foilyage sections are incubated within a foil, similar to traditional highlights, but the placement and techniques are those that mimic a balayage. Techniques like babylights and teasy lights give us the blend and dimension while the foils help us achieve maximum lift. For the weary clients who expected balayage to look like cotton and cellophane explaining the science of lift will create maximum trust.

Ideal Client: Foilyage is best for clients who are wanting 3+ levels of lift on darker canvases or previously colored hair. High contrast versions of ‘lived-in color’ and defined ‘money pieces’ are best created using these techniques. We also love foilyage when we need to incorporate a low light or base color while still achieving a ‘balayage effect’ as it keeps everything tidy.


Teasy lights are fairly self-explanatory but it helps to explain to the client why they are about to look like a scene from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Teasy lights are a process in which the desired section of hair is teased, creating highs and lows. That section is then painted either in a foil for a maximum lift or in open air for a softer result. Once the hair is processed, rinsed, and detangled the result is a seamless transition without the need for a ‘transition color’ like a shadow root. Prep your client for the process and the detangling and have your favorite conditioner and wet brush on hand.

Ideal Client: Teasy Lights are great for anyone wanting a very easy grow out/maintenance and high dimension with a beautiful blend. Teasy lights paired with a money piece give an effortless “I just got my hair done look” that lasts for months. Consider combining teasy lights with babylights for a less rooty look with maximum pop. Steer away from this technique if your client is extremely tender-headed.


Babylights are not a new technique but they rival balayage with being a top requested technique. Baby lights are micro tiny fine highlights perfect for hairline detailing and clients who want an ultra-natural high-lighted look with more lift than they can get from balayage. We love using baby lights as an add-on to any dimensional color service focusing the technique on the front and back hairline. To get the perfect hair like take a tiny fine slice that you could read a book through, brace your foil at the scalp and make sure you have a thicker consistency lighter to really secure the hair. Paint, pack and repeat...1,000 times.

Ideal Client: Baby lights can be used on nearly every client you cross your seat. Incorporate these into your hairline details and watch clients rave about the ‘seamless’ blend. Mix the into any dimensional color service for added dimension and pop. Remember that finer sections should be approached with a lower volume because they will process fast!


Written by: Nicoletta

Cover Image Credit:@dumblonde_hair