With summer soon coming to a close, clients will either be eager to embrace the approaching Autumn or will be clinging on to those last moments of the sun. Fortunately, there may be a technique that you can utilise in your salon to accommodate both of these client standpoints: introducing the wet balayage. We asked experts about the innovative technique…
What is the wet balayage technique?
The wet balayage, aka ‘the backwash balayage’, is an adaptation of the balayage technique simply performed on damp rather than dry hair. Marina Hodgins, owner of Fringe Benefits Gloucester, summarises: “It involves a hand-painting or sweeping technique to create a seamless and natural-looking transition between the roots and ends.” It is generally recognised to brighten dull ends and can give that extra pop of vibrancy as an addition after a colour service too.
How the wet balayage could be currently relevant in salons
Compared to the traditional balayage which creates a bolder colour contrast on dry hair, the wet balayage will create a more diffused and subtle look when used as a technique on its own. This may be appealing to those clients looking to leave behind their bright blonde summer locks and embrace soft autumnal vibes. “When the hair is damp, the lift is a little more gentle,” Anne Veck, freelance hairdresser and educator explains. “You also tend to use less products as the pH of water is higher than that of hair, so the hair acts as a catalyst and the product penetrates the hair shaft quicker than on dry hair.” Therefore, the wet balayage is also ideal for ‘virgin’ hair clients who want to ease into getting colour services.
Meanwhile, for those clients who want to keep their vibrant summer hair for as long as possible, wet balayage can be used as an add-on service after colour. Emma Fowler of Emma Fowler Hair and Education, says: “Adding bleach to clients’ hair that is already lightened will bump the ends for an even brighter look- it would work best on level nine or 10 hair.” The technique can also be adapted for other popular summer styles, Coral Coyle, colour expert and educator, explains: “I like to do my scandi hairlines wet at the backwash, it gives it the perfect finish.”
Because of the hair’s dampness, the wet balayage technique is a great one to put into practice when teaching students and apprentices. Carolyn Newman, Insight Professional’s UK ambassador, explains that it is easier to blend on damp hair, allowing for better control.
The wet balayage will give the hair a multi-tonal depth because of how colour distributes on damp hair. Anne recommends using the technique when only two to three levels of lift is required, she says: “I often use this technique combined with roots shadowing, this encourages me to let me roots process for a bit longer and I achieve a better result overall.”
How does the wet balayage differ to the traditional balayage?
Although the procedure is relatively similar, the service and aftercare of a wet balayage can differ to when done on dry hair. Terry Longden, Matrix Artist ambassador, outlines his steps for the technique:
- Cleanse the hair with a chelating shampoo to remove product build-up, then towel dry
- Spritz the hair with a porosity balancer
- Cut the hair and leave in a damp, not dripping, state
- Apply lightener in the same way you would for a dry balayage (note that no foils are required!)
- Once the desired undertone has been achieved, cleanse the hair to remove the lightener and apply an acidic toner to bring pH levels back and tighten the cuticle
- Finish with a moisturising and strengthening mask that clients can continue to use at home
Top Tip: Mix your bleach to be slightly runnier than usual as this will glide easier on the damp hair, although not too thin as this could cause unwanted bleeds
Are there any risks to the technique?
As with all lightening services, the hair must be in a suitable condition to withstand the colour; fragile hair could break during the process, or it could simply look unhealthy if it’s not properly maintained. Andrew Minarik, INDOLA UK ambassador, recommends using a conditioning spray prior to colouring to prevent any damage.
Wet balayage creates the risk of exposing warm tones if clients’ hair has been previously coloured, Emma Fowler comments: “If there are any low-lights, it could reveal warmth as the bleach is only processed for a short amount of time. I would recommend using tip outs in foil in this instance.”
Of course, always make sure to have a through consultation with your client before the service, so they know that the end result will be lighter and softer than a regular balayage.
With its versatility, we think this could definitely be a client-favourite service this autumn...