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The Truth about my Balayage Hair Colour Experience + Hair Care Tips!

Katya Bowd

Posted on April 10 2017


We’ve heard this so many times amidst all the hair care tips and fads bustling around in modern society – our hair is our crowning glory. It may sound cliché but it still stands true to this day. It can make or break our overall physical appearance. It can make us look younger or older, make the sides of our face look thinner or wider.. Whatever the case may be, it is imperative that our chosen hair style compliments one of our most important features – our face.

Having great hair is, needless to say, an investment and can, without a doubt – come with a price most of the time (unless you opt for at-home natural hair care remedies, of course.) Choosing a reputable salon and hairdresser is crucial lest you end up with something or someone you might regret crossing paths with. Do your research. Read reviews. Ask questions then narrow down the results to one. Once you have, don’t be afraid to dig deeper until you’re finally confident about patronising their services. 

Recently, I decided to take the dive for a complete hair make-over, specifically the latest hair colouring trend which is the balayage. I just thought that since my hair has endured utter neglect ever since I got pregnant with my 2nd child, now is the time to finally start taking care of it.  Now, before I get into detail of my so-called ‘fail,’ let’s define the meaning of ‘balayage.’

What is balayage?

Balayage is a French word which means “to sweep” or ” to paint.” It is basically described as a highlighting technique wherein dye is added to the hair in such a way that it creates a natural-looking gradient effect. An expert in this hair styling technique can either opt between doing free-hand or using foils. 

My experience with hair treatments…

I was born with thick coarse hair. If I forget to comb, my hair would be similar to Velcro! I avoided short hair styles as my hair is prone to fly-away and taming them would require a huge amount of TLC. I would exert a substantial amount of effort in finding ways to grow my hair back in terms of using hair growth shampoos and the like. I decided to stick with the long do’ after high school.

When hair colouring became a trend, I willingly jumped in the bandwagon starting with cellophane treatments – because I was still a bit unsure of getting my jet black hair completely transformed. When the cellophane worn off, I gained more confidence to take the next step. In a couple of years, my hair colour went from chestnut brown to red to green and sometimes even blue. I’ve also had my hair bleached by a non-professional to make the colours stand out – and how big of a mistake was that! My hair suffered the consequences of being exposed to too much chemicals in short periods of time. (Usually, you’d need to wait for a minimum of 8-12 weeks before you can do anything to your hair in terms of treatments.) I started having split ends, massive amounts of fall-out, and instant breakage – the obvious signs of damage. It was a mess!

Then I discovered hair rebonding which is the process of using a cream softener to break the natural bonds or structure of your hair. The bonds are then reconnected using a neutraliser. In the end, you are left with straight, soft, silky tresses. 

The last time I had my hair rebonded was over 2 years ago, so the balayage was something I was really looking forward to.

The process at my chosen salon + the staff

Anyway, going back to the actual topic… So I found a salon at a nearby mall. It looked promising not only because of its facilities, but because of the staff and the number of customers that walk in their doors as well. I initially even had to get a 4-inch trim off of my waist-length hair just to find out the skill level of the main hairdresser, May. (Not to be an inquisitive nag, but I am usually the type of client who would ask questions about one’s experience – most especially if it comes to handling hair – until they’ve shown some sort of credibility in their field.) I’ve also indulged in small talk to see if I could establish a rapport between us should I end up choosing her to do my hair; because the last thing you need is not be able to communicate your needs and requirements to your hairdresser because you find her intimidating or difficult to communicate with.

Anyway, after a friendly chat and finding out that May finished 2 certificate courses in hair dressing and salon management, I then decided to book the appointment. She also gave me a rundown on the entire process and what to expect. 

Being extremely hyped and somewhat nervous of the unknown, I arrived at the salon an hour early – because that’s how I roll, haha! May was still tending to another client so I decided to loiter around the mall for a while and then came back on the dot. 

The first step was getting parts of my hair bleached and placed in individual foils. This was a bit scary, but I entrusted my faith in May’s expert hands. The waiting time for my hair to “cook” took a good 30-45 minutes until she washed it off.

Second came the toner which was a white, silky solution that’s supposed to get rid of the yellow tint on my hair caused by the bleach and turn it into my desired shade (which was more on the rose gold-ish colour.) It took another 30-45 minutes waiting time for it to take effect. By this point, I was sipping an awesome cup of latte and savouring the exquisite service. 

The aftermath…

After another rinsing session, my hair was then partially blow-dried. I was admiring the outcome of my new mane. The shade fully-complemented my skin tone and my hair seemed more texturized. After a couple of minutes admiring the results in the mirror under the illuminating lights of the salon, I thanked May and the receptionist then headed home. Matt and Kaela both gave huge smiles of approval of my new up-do as I stepped in the door. I then dashed to the bathroom to further examine my hair. Lo and behold… The “natural” gradient effect or the transition from my dark roots to the light shade was nowhere to be found. It looked like a total regrowth! You know, that thing when you have just coloured your hair and then in a couple months’ time you can see that sharp line between your natural hair colour and the artificial tint? Yep, that’s it. It was nowhere near the balayage images that I found on Google. Sheesh! I might as well have had my entire head dyed!

The following morning, I eagerly shampooed in hopes that the colour might somehow fade at the top and give me the look I was aiming for in the first place. But what was I thinking? Bleached is bleached.

What to do when things go wrong?

1.- Know your rights as a consumer. Let’s face the facts. Most hair treatments aren’t cheap and it is only fair that you get what you paid for. Most salons would gladly repair the damage or offer some sort of compensation. In the past, I would just let these things slide and silently suffer in my own bubble; but eventually, I learned to be more assertive and address issues diplomatically should they arise. There is no way I am going to endure looking like someone in dire need of a regrowth colouring this time.

2.- Give the hairdresser a call and address the issue. Screaming at someone over the phone and demanding them to fix what they just did isn’t going to help. Do you think a person would willingly amend the issue after being spoken to in such way? Nope. Politely let the hairdresser know what happened. Remember, kindness goes a long way. Perhaps, I am also lucky because May seemed to be a nice person and she more than willingly agreed to fix my hair.

3.- Confirm that there isn’t any extra charge to have the mistake fixed. I know some people wouldn’t budge or would demand extra payment. Reputable salons would normally do this for free. Lucky me 

4.- Learn from the experience.  Although my hair looks better now, it still doesn’t look 100% awesome. But then again, maybe my hair wasn’t just the perfect candidate for this type of hair treatment or perhaps, I should’ve gone to an actual balayage specialist. Don’t get me wrong, May is great but I should’ve just asked for samples from her beforehand to determine if her style was the right one for me. Oh well. The current plan is to grow my hair out, wait for 8-12 weeks, and see what happens. I am, of course, going to continue to implement ways to take care of my hair to prevent foreseeable damages. I might just go for highlights or a hot oil treatment. We’ll see.  

So there goes my experience. What about you, fellow mum? Do you have any hair horror stories you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!