How to do Balayage – The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need!

Wondering how to do balayage? Balayage is a popular technique used to achieve stunning natural-looking gradients of color in hair that’s received quite a lot of attention lately. While there are a lot of ways to work different shades and colors into hair together and many ways to highlight hair, balayage is prized for its ability to create natural-looking blends of color in hair that require little maintenance after being colored. 

What Is Balayage?

Balayage is French for “sweeping,” and indeed, the technique makes use of sweeping strokes to create stunning gradients in hair color, moving towards the roots which can even largely retain their original color. Balayage is a highlighting technique, but unlike traditional techniques that involve sectioning and wrapping hair in foil to color it, hair is instead clipped in triangles which are then brushed, free-hand, in various lengths. 


This results in a more natural looking gradient with less discernible beginning or end points in color. This is one of the reasons the balayage technique will result in hair that requires less maintenance. Even as roots grow out, there won’t be a harsh color change, and instead the color will remain in a gradient that will simply grow longer and longer—meaning less maintenance is necessary. 

Can I Do Balayage At Home?

This question is a bit complex, and there’s no straight answer. While you can do balayage at home, the technique has a steep learning curve, and it isn’t recommended for beginners. Depending on your level of experience and expertise, it might be worth it to simply see a professional who is well-versed in the matter. 


That being said, it is possible to attempt at home, and there are even kits available online for doing just that. If you do decide to try it at home, there are a few steps to be aware of and precautions you should take before getting started.


Be sure to check out some tutorials and do plenty of research first. It often helps to watch someone else doing something before attempting it yourself, and you might find some useful knowledge along the way. Alexsis Mae has a great tutorial that shows how balayage is done, that you can check out here

At Home: What You’ll Need

If you do decide to try balayage at home, there are some materials you’ll need to get started:

Hair Clips

Since the technique relies heavily on hair being sectioned, hair clips are a must. This is how you’ll keep your hair sectioned properly as you begin.

Hair Dye That You’ve Been Allergy Tested For

It’s absolutely essential that you’re sure you’re not allergic to any product you might be using. Even if you’ve used it before, you may have developed an allergy or sensitivity since then. Be sure to get allergy tested for any product you plan to use. 


The product you’ll be using might be harsh and can stain skin. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid contact as much as possible.


This will simply help you keep the dye from staining skin on your scalp that it might come in contact with.

Foil, a Towel, or Cardboard

This will allow you to brush on sections that you’ve clipped without the dye spilling over onto hair behind or beneath it. 

At Home: The Basic Steps

There are a lot of ways stylists tend to carry out the steps in the process, and there are some great tutorials that go in-depth on their process and share how they do it, but we’ll go over the basic steps in the process. Be sure to check out these great tutorials from Alexsis Mae, The Life Of Hair, and Je T’aime before getting started.

1. Prepare Your Hair

You’ll want to make sure your hair is clean before starting, and ideally combed. Having your hair ready will go a long way when it comes to the next step of sectioning your hair. 

2. Section Your Hair

One of the most crucial steps of the entire process is sectioning your hair. There are a few different ways to section it, depending on exactly the look you’re going for, but you’ll be dividing your hair up and clipping it into wedges from the top down, and usually starting with a mid part. You can also apply vaseline to your scalp, anywhere you might get dye. Je T’aime’s tutorial provides a great example and discussion to start with. 

3. Begin To Apply Dye

Now that you’ve sectioned your hair, it’s time to start applying dye. Work in small sections, using cardboard or foil to paint against if needed. Be sure to check out Alexsis Mae’s tutorial, which provides great examples and an in-depth discussion about how you’ll want to go about your brush strokes—this is essential in creating natural looking color changes. 

4. Follow Instructions On The Box

Once you’ve applied all the dye, wait the amount of time directed on the box, and be sure to follow any other instructions it might have. Once you’ve done that, you can rinse out and style your hair to your preference!


Balayage is really popular lately, and we can see why! It’s a gorgeous technique that can result in some really stunning and natural looking highlights, and usually requires less upkeep afterwards. It’s no surprise that there’s such a high demand for the technique, or that there are ways to try it at home. 

If you find yourself interested in balayage and other cosmetology techniques and you’ve been thinking about learning more or taking the next step towards a career in cosmetology, be sure to reach out to talk to an advisor from Career Beauty College to talk about their cosmetology program and take the next step toward your career!