About Balayage

Balayage (ba-lie-azhe), sometimes spelled ‘balliage’ or ‘baliage,’ is the art of hair painting. The term is based on the French word for ‘sweep away,’ or ‘balayer.’

Balayage is the most exciting highlighting color technique to appear in a long time. Colorists and clients alike fall in love with the fabulous results. Color placement looks natural and organic, similar to the effortlessly random color you'd receive after a summer at the beach.


Balayage made an early appearance at the exclusive Carita salon in Paris in the ‘70s. At the time it was known as ‘Balayage à Coton,’ named for the strips of cotton that are used (still today, as seen in the photo below) to keep the colored hair separate from the untouched hair.

Balayage was truly revolutionary, created at a time when the industry standard was a frosting cap. The ‘80s brought a wave of foil highlights, so it wasn’t until the ‘90s that balayage made its first inroads in the U.S., mainly among celebrity-early adopters.

Balayage is offered in many salons today—but not all results are consistent (it’s not as easy as it looks!). The colorist must be well-trained and have a keen sense of the hair’s texture and movement. It’s just the colorist and the balayage brush. The most natural-looking results are usually those that look the most random, which calls for a very specific placement strategy.



It’s important to note that balayage is definitely not just for blondes. Brunettes, redheads, even those with black hair can all take advantage of hair painting. The results will be subtle, but they’ll add the dimension that everyone craves, giving a dark brunette swirls of cinnamon or caramel, for example. 


Foils often end up looking contrived - a neat row of uniform highlights. When a section of hair is colored using a foil, the entire section is saturated with color resulting in dense, unnatural stripes of color. 

Balayage color is painted in soft brush strokes across the surface of the hair, leaving you with natural-looking swipes of color that flow from thick to thin and play off the hair's natural movement. Even better, balayage won't leave you with any signs of demarcation, creating a softer and more manageable grow-out.





Our balayage team at Maxine has received the best training available. We've had balayage on our menu for over five years and we continue to seek out the top experts for our team's continuing education. Our colorists have studied with L.A. balayage guru Nancy Braun, at the L’Oréal Professionnel Color Academy in New York City and at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Los Angeles. 

Our color staff is always experimenting with new balayage effects. Combine that with their continuing education and you have the best balayage team in Chicago. During our workshops Maxine team members have created a number of new techniques to add to our menu, including: 

Facelift Balayage: Believe it! Balayage is used to brighten expression areas by adding stronger, sweeping pieces of light, giving your face a painless lift. 

Bali-Curl: Developed especially for curly hair, Bali-Curl brings light into the depth of the curl to create reflections by painting into the round of the curl.

BaliColorA combination of dry haircutting and balayage; the former maximizes the movement, the latter emphasizes it. 

Ombré Balayage: The super-chic shading from dark to light in hair color, created by adding balayage highlights on the mid-shaft and ends of the hair.  

Balayage is here to stay! If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

More Information & Pricing