The beautiful thing about the beauty world we’re living in right now is this access to what’s happening around the globe. Even though balayage highlights might be trending in LA and NYC, it’s also trending in Sydney, Australia, and Dubai. We are totally connected thanks to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
One thing that DOES differ among the trends is the execution and technique. Updo artists coming from Russia are amazing. Balayage lightening out of Brazil is unmatched. And now we’re seeing a new trend with color emerge with AirTouch highlights.
The AirTouch technique uses air, versus teasing/backcombing, to create a seamless blend of color. Attributed to Vladimir Sarbashev, the colorist takes a section of hair with tension on the longest lengths, and uses a blow dryer to push the shorter hairs and internal layers down and out of the way. Color or lightener is then applied on the remaining hair.
The result? Absolutely blended coloring with natural-looking effects, paired with soft, dimension that will survive the grow-out.
When we spoke with Sarbashev, who is based in Moscow, Russia, he said he created the AirTouch technique because he saw several challenges with other lightening techniques—namely, the retouch.
In a traditional retouch where the hair was backcombed or teased prior to lightener being applied, the colorist then has to use a tail comb to re-weave that section to ensure the client doesn’t get too blonde over time or that color won’t overlap on previously lightened hair.
With AirTouch, as long as the colorist uses the same technique—tension on the perimeter lengths and using a blow dryer to push the shorter hairs or internal layering out of the way, only the new growth needs lightener—voila! Saving time for both the client and the colorist, and potential over-processing since you’re only hitting the virgin outgrowth.
VIDEO: Watch to see the AirTouch in action! Nope, the hair color isn't changing, the "baby hair" and internal layering is being pushed down for a perfect lightener retouch!
“AirTouch became a huge success because it is different than any other highlight or balayage technique out there,” says Artist Connective member and blonde specialist Erin Mills. “The biggest difference is the sectioning, mostly diagonal sections, and the use of the blow dryer. AirTouch is technically starting a section, using the dryer outlining up the hair strand to blow away all hairs that are held tight in the section, and only highlighting in foil the remaining hair. It’s amazing to watch, and the results are so natural!”
Since debuting the technique in Eastern Europe, Sarbashev’s life has completely changed. He now has nearly 200,000 followers on Instagram and teaches his technique globally.
Now that you’re sold on the technique, you might be wondering why you hadn’t heard of it, or Sarbashev before. We were wondering the same thing. Endless Googling and we couldn’t find much information at all, let alone information published from media in the United States.
But what we COULD find was hundreds of thousands of work on Instagram hashtagged with #airtouch #airtouchoriginal #airtouchrussia, and other AirTouch alternatives. And the work is nearly ALL screenshot worthy!
When we stumbled upon the work of one artist in a neighboring city to the MODERN SALON offices using hashtag #airtouchoriginal, we felt like we struck gold! Who was this guy creating this incredible lightening effects, using the popular hashtag #airtouch AND didn’t speak Russian?
Danilo Bozic, who works out of Hindsdale, Illinois, actually learned the AirTouch technique from Sarbashev himself.
“I was going through Instagram looking for information and knowledge to get better, and I started following the Russian scene for inspiration,” Bozic tells us. “I started to see #airtouch trending and became very interested in it. I tried deciphering the technique by watching YouTube videos and by getting in touch with some stylists in Russia who were doing it but I just wasn’t getting the same seamless results I was seeing on Instagram.”
So when he saw that the Vladimir was coming to Las Vegas to teach the two-day class, Bozic moved everything around to be there.
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#airtouchoriginal is a technique that has 5 different placements. For every haircut- long hair with or without layers, bob, medium length or bangs. This one is, well, neither.. 🙈 We can call it “The Lazy One” and I like to use it for fine hair and some color corrections. 🔥 •I part hair in four sections and work my way from the bottom to the top, placing foils horizontally. (I try not to move or disturb foils in any way because it can interfere with the working of bleach.) This is a fast placement and it’s easy to do those in between foils. Now, my advice here is not that easier is better but sometimes, less IS more and it just works here. Can’t wait to show you 5 of @sarbashevvladimir ‘s #airtouch placements though! Was this useful to my hairstylist friends? . . .
“When I got to the class, I was surprised to find out I was the only one there who didn’t speak Russian, but I had help with translation from other participants and although I had to fill in some blanks, that incredible class gave me everything I needed to start making my own seamless AirTouch.”
Now, Bozic has clients constantly bring in #AirTouch inspiration photos from Instagram asking for the technique.
“Clients love AirTouch because of its perfect blend and, as they like to point out, it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as balayage can sometimes be because it requires zero teasing.”
Bozic says the technique is so innovative because the air does all the hard work of weaving out the "baby hairs," leaving the longer sections to be highlighted.
"Then, if we color the shorter pieces, the hair gets more depth and can create a better blend," he says.
“You can compare my life in the hair world to what’s happening with Tesla—it’s changed so much and so many doors have opened for me,” Sarbashev tells MODERN SALON in an exclusive interview.
English isn’t his native language so some things might be lost in translation, but the overall impact Sarbashev has had on lightening and balayage, within Eastern Europe, has been nothing short of transformative.
“This AirTouch technique is now available in nearly every salon within the country of Russia,” he says. “AND the neighboring countries. But not enough people know about it in America yet. When I teach classes in America, typically Russians living in the U.S. are the ones who come. So we are just at the beginning of this trend exploding, and this interview is the beginning of great opportunities in the states.”
You might also be interested in these other recent balayage variations:
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