Colin Caruso (@colincaruso) of Salon Caru, Hoboken, NJ is a Paul Mitchell Artistic Director of Color, a balayage and hair color expert has honed his craft perfecting highlights with a love of blonde. “I like making my guests happy,” he says, working within their expectations. “The secret to balayage, really, is practice. Hairdressers focus so much on the how, overlooking the why which is really the most important.”
Here Caruso shares his top ten tips on balayage perfection, which include the how and the why:
- Consult properly, with pictures. Often times it takes several applications and visits to get the guest desired end result. A proper consult is the difference between a potential re-do and paid visit.
- Look at balayage as erasing. “The harder I press the more I saturate and remove. The softer I press the more I am going to blend.”
- Choose the right product (Caruso uses Skylight Clay Lightener from JPMS). “Balayage results are best if the product is clay based and forms a shell to prevent transfer and to incubate.”
- Saturate the product where you want lightness. “The whiter the lighter. Load product where you want lift.” Caruso adds to not be afraid of using a higher volume developer if you are processing at room temperature. He traditionally uses 40 volume developer.
- To create more dimension don’t be afraid to lowlight. Caruso will add a lowlight that is in between root and the lightest shade in between each highlight to create a shadow.
- Start on the ends and work your way up. Apply to the ends first and then feather up to the regrowth for a softer effect.
- Be visual. Section as you go. It’s all about texture. “I like to work with the color based on its natural fall.”
- Tension is key. You want to hold the hair straight but don’t pinch the ends. Keep it wide for even color application and better saturation.
- Use a shine product to keep fly-aways at bay during application. Caruso uses Paul Mitchell Neuro Protect Shine Spray.
- Don’t be afraid to charge for the service. You are hand painting and your eyes and hands are valuable. The guest does not have to come in as frequently. “My balayage prices start at a minimum of a full highlight, and usually comes out to about 20% more than foil highlights.”
In this video he demonstrates and shares some additional advice. Check it out: