Balayage Sectioning: 4 Patterns to Know

Balayage sectioning after

If you’re new to balayage, you might not know all of the terminology, lingo, or the secrets to getting perfect results for your clients just yet—and that’s okay! Nobody ever knew everything right from the start. The secret to becoming the best hair artist possible is to be continuously learning and growing.

One thing that you’ll learn pretty quickly when you start balayaging is that sectioning really is the name of the game. Your sections, paired with your application technique, will make or break your results.


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Below, we define sectioning, talk about how it is different in balayage compared to other treatments, and also walk through the uses of four different sectioning methods that you should familiarize yourself with.

What is sectioning in balayage?

When we talk about sectioning in balayage, all we really mean is how you part the hair during an application. In that regard, it’s similar to the concept of sectioning in other coloring or lightening techniques. But that’s where the similarities end.

Compared to other coloring techniques, balayage requires completely different section sizes for a proper application. Typically, it’s the density of the hair that differs: In order to create an optimal surface paint, you need a thick enough section so that product does not seep through it and cause splotches. Leveraging different section sizes also allows us to create multi-dimensional color simply by means of adjusting how large of a section we are working with.

Balayage Sectioning Patterns

The precise method that you use will always vary depending on the end goal that you’re trying to achieve, so it’s really important that you understand what your client is looking for before getting started. We always recommend having a thorough hair consultation to determine this and other details that you’ll need to do your job well!

That being said, learning what each sectioning pattern can achieve will help you gain clarity on how to choose a specific approach for your client.

1. Horizontal Sectioning

Horizontal balayage sectioning

Horizontal sectioning involves taking sections or slices of hair horizontally across your client’s head. This is one of the most common sectioning patterns used in balayage, and for good reason: It allows for the most powerful impact, visually, because that’s how hair naturally falls on the head. 

Horizontal sectioning is perfect for when you need to create more impact. The hair falls naturally this way, so painting in the plane will give you more surface brightness.

2. Diagonal Sectioning

diagonal balayage sectioning

Whereas horizontal sectioning involves straight sections, diagonal sections are just that: Diagonal. This creates a softer appearance in the end result, because each section falls inward instead of straight across. 

Diagonal sectioning is perfect for when your client is looking for a diffused and natural result. 

3. U-shaped an V-shaped Sectioning

v-shaped balayage sectioning

U-shaped and v-shaped sections are significantly different from diagonal and horizontal sections because they do not consist of straight lines or straight slices. The section truly is either v- or u-shaped, depending on which route is taken.

U-shaped and v-shaped sections are perfect for when the client wants more depth at the root area of their hair. 

4. Zig-Zag Sectioning

zigzag balayage sectioning

Zig-zag sectioning involves sectioning the hair in a zig-zag pattern. This can be fully customized and paired with lowlights and highlights depending on the client end goal.

Zig-zag sectioning is perfect for when a client wants a truly natural, lived-in look, because the end result is very diffused. 

Want to learn more tips and tricks to really grow your balayage skills? Download our free Glossing Q&A tipsheet, and consider registering for our Virtual Balayage Workshop!

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