As a hairstylist, you already know that balayage is an amazing lightening technique that results in a beautiful and natural look. But have you ever sat down and wondered why some balayage just looks better or more expensive than other balayage?
We’re not talking about good balayage compared to poorly-done balayage. We’re talking about balayage that looks amazing when it’s compared to an otherwise perfectly acceptable treatment. There are a lot of ways that balayage can go wrong, but in our experience, when it goes right—like really right—there are usually just a handful of explanations.
One of those explanations? A well-executed money piece.
Below, we explain what a money piece is, why you should add it to your repertoire of techniques, and offer some tips to help you perfect the service.
What is a Money Piece?
When it comes to hair, the term money piece refers to highlights which are strategically placed along the hairline in order to frame the face. As a service or treatment, it is often paired with balayage or foils, but it can also be a standalone application if a client simply wants some additional brightness around their face.
That’s the technical definition, sure, but you might also be wondering why money pieces have such an incredible power to tie a look together. To answer that question, you need to understand that hair is almost always lighter around the hairline, due to the natural lightening that comes with exposure to the sun.
Finishing a balayage, foilyage, or foiling session with the addition of a money piece helps to recreate this natural highlight, tying the whole look together in a natural, bright, and beautiful way.
How to Create the Perfect Neutral Money Piece
1. Know your client’s end goal.
Well before you begin the application of product, you should first be sure that you understand exactly what your client is hoping to get out of the treatment, and that’s why we typically recommend that you start with a balayage consultation. Where are they starting from? What are their end goals? Are these realistic expectations, or do you need to communicate to your guest why these are not really appropriate?
In addition to these general questions, you should also ask questions more specifically related to a money piece. Does she have bangs? How might this affect her end goal? How does she tend to part her hair? Should you work off of this part, or off of the center?
2. Choose the right tools and product consistency.
Before you begin, you need to know what tools (and specifically, what kind of balayage brush) you are going to be using to apply the lightener. This is important for a number of reasons.
Generally speaking, you are probably going to want to use a natural bristle paint brush to apply your product for a money piece, because the mechanics of the bristles are better suited to creating blur than those of a synthetic brush. They simply allow you to apply product more gently in order to create that soft effect that you’re really looking for in a money piece. When using a natural bristle brush, the consistency of the product needs to be a little looser than it would be if you were using a synthetic brush, as you might be used to.
Just because a natural bristle brush is better suited to creating blur isn’t to say that you can’t use a synthetic brush if that is your preference. If you do, though, be sure to adjust the consistency of your product so that it is a little thicker.
3. Consider working off of the center.
If your guest very specifically parts their hair on one particular side and has no desire to ever shake things up, then you can perform the service accordingly.
If, however, the guest likes to be able to part their hair in a number of different ways, then you will need to adjust the application process to work off of the center. Doing so will give your client the flexibility to to part their hair in a number of different ways while still maintaining that face-framing effect of the money piece.
4. Give yourself some room to work.
When you begin to apply your product, you want to be sure to start in the center and then work your way up to the hairline. When you’re creating a money piece, you never want to start right at the hairline, because you’ll have no room to blur, which will reduce the quality of the overall application.
5. Build your product saturation.
Whether you’re talking about a money piece or about balayage in general, it’s always a good idea to build up your product slowly rather than start off with too much product all at once. This will give you more control over exactly where you build the brightness that makes a money piece so stunning.
6. Remember to preserve depth with the rest of your application.
When you’re completing a balayage treatment that includes a money piece, you’re typically going to start with the money piece and then move into the rest of the balayage application. When you do this, it’s critical that you preserve some of the depth adjoining the money piece; otherwise, it won’t look like a money piece at all. It won’t achieve that same face-framing look. This is where understanding how to create shading, lowlights, and directions of brightness is incredibly important.
Once you master the art of the money piece, you can begin offering it as a service to your clients and guests, either as a standard part of your balayage treatments or as a standalone service that your guests can use to prolong the time between more comprehensive sessions. In either case, your guests are going to love how stunning their hair looks, and are bound to come back time after time!