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5 Hot Formulation Tips for Balayage [Plus 10 To Try]


As a professional stylist, it’s your job to take your client’s vision and turn it into a reality, without compromising their hair. Sometimes getting from point A to point B isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. There are a lot of factors that go into consideration from the current state of the hair to the end result.

One of the best ways to get on the same page with your client is to look at some photos together to see exactly what their goal is, reiterating which tones they like and figuring out if/how it can be achieved.

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The more you know about formulation and glossing, the more prepared you will feel with whatever situation is thrown your way! Below are a few glossing tips along with some of our favorite formulas.

1. Familiarize yourself with your client’s hair.

Before you get started formulating your color for a service, it’s important that you take the time to get to know your client's hair so you can figure out exactly what it needs.

There are various factors to take into account here, like whether the client has virgin or previously dyed hair, as well as her porosity, density, and texture. Each of these elements will impact how lighteners and dyes react with the hair and can dramatically change your results.

Once you have a feel for how the appointment will play out, make an effort to manage your client’s expectations if needed. For example, if she wants to take her natural level 3 to a level 7, it will likely take more than one session to reach the result she’s after without severely damaging her hair.


2. Know your colors.

No need to go back to kindergarten for this one, but you should always have the color wheel in the back of your mind when mixing up your formulas. Depending on the client’s natural hair color, certain pigments from the hair can change the outcome of the lightening process and will need to be counteracted in order to achieve the desired goal.

In many cases, and especially for clients with dark hair, the hair will lighten to a warmer color than desired. To combat this, just remember that you can neutralize yellow with violet, orange with blue, and red with green. After all, nobody is a fan of brassy or blorange hair.

Also bear in mind the ways in which skin tone and hair color can affect each other, and use this information to craft the perfect color.


3. Choose your products wisely.

When it comes to balayage, your products are nearly as important as your technique. Make sure you are working with a product you are comfortable with so that you can have a feel for how it will react with your client’s hair.

For a balayage masterpiece, a clay-based lightener is the weapon of choice for most colorists. It has a certain glide to it that lends itself to a smooth application, whereas a regular foil lightener can get dried out and clumpy, creating splotches in your work.

Additionally, the consistency of your formula will influence the painting technique you decide to use during application. For instance, if your formula is runny, you may have to use foils or film to keep the product from transferring onto other sections of the hair, whereas a thicker formula can provide more precise results with open-air processing.


4. Use multiple formulas for one look.

To create a truly dimensional look, you’ll sometimes want to create more than one formula for a well-blended result. In these cases, remember to use a lower level of developer for the ends than you would for the mid-lengths of the hair.

Since the ends are generally more prone to damage, it’s a good idea to be as gentle as possible. This requires some extra effort when you’re creating your formulas, but if it means delivering healthy looking ends, it is completely worth it.


5. Plan ahead.

This probably goes without saying, but it can never hurt to be reminded. Take the time to create a plan of action before you get to painting so that you never miss a beat.

When you go to mix your formula, make sure you have enough product for the client’s whole head so you don’t have to mix more while the hair is processing. You can expect to need more for your girls with long beachy locks than for those with an edgy lob.

On the other hand, you also don’t want to mix so much that you end up wasting a ton of product either.


Formulas to Try

Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite formulas for you to try.

Remember, though, that these should just be a starting point for your formula. You may need to alter the exact proportions depending on the type of hair you are working on, any underlying tones in your client’s hair, etc..

For a cool frosty blonde, try equal parts of Redken Shades EQ 9V and 9P

For a champagne blonde, try equal parts of Redken Shades EQ 9N + 9V + 9RB

For a sandy blonde, try equal parts of Redken Shades EQ 9N + 9NB + 9V

For cooler blondes, try equal parts Redken Shades EQ 9V + 9N + 9NA

For a cool toned brunette, try Wella Professionals Color Touch 7/71

For a deep warm brown, try equal parts of Wella Professionals Color Touch 5/73 and 4/77

To combat stubborn blorange tones, try Redken Shades EQ 9B

For neutralizing deep orange pigments, try Redken Shades EQ 5NA

For a beautiful neutral beige on a level 8 client, try Redken Shades EQ 7NB + 8N +8V

For a brunette balayage top coat, try Redken Shades EQ 8N + 8NA + 9V + Processing Solution

Mix it up!

Next time you’re feeling unsure about mixing up a formula, remember these tips to help you achieve color success. The most important thing is to know what you’re working with so you can tailor the formula to your client's needs and create a balayage masterpiece.

Have you been struggling with your confidence when it comes to formulation? Building confidence in this area is the key to becoming a better stylist, empowering you to deliver the results that your clients are looking for. Sign up for the Salt Lab course with Christine, where you'll learn the fundamentals of color theory and real, tactical skills that will allow you to formulate with the confidence that you need!

Confidence Behind Formulation Course

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