To say we’re obsessed with the work of Ellie Toia (@xoxo_balayage) is an understatement. The Austin, Texas-based balayage specialist has the entire MODERN SALON team in a screenshot war—we can’t get enough because everything this woman shares is stunning.
When we named Toia to our MODERN SALON 100 back in 2019, we said her page “looks like a Pinterest board dedicated to shiny, beautiful balayage—some waved, some tied half up in a knot and some with playful braids.” She also writes captions featuring quirky word play and puns.
Toia creates collages that so swoon-worthy they rack up the likes in minutes. Silky horses? Toia’s got a collage for that, pairing balayaged ribbons with different majestic stallions. Or, coffee and espresso paried with creamy colors and smoky finishes.
So how does she crush every piece of content she shares? We asked her for her top tips, and she said the most important factor is her lightener. “The consistency of the bleach I’m using is key. It can’t be too runny or too thick,” Toia says. “I take not too big of sections and really focus on the blend in the transition area. I don’t like to do root melts so I make sure that blend is perfect by always checking underneath as well. With balayage, what you see is what you get.”
To allow for perfect ribboning, Toia says she leaves depth and dimension to make sure the tones really pop in all the right places.
“Toning is key,” Toia says. “Balayage lifts warmer than foils so take the time to tone out that warmth and have your clients come in every 4-6 weeks for toners.”
To get the perfect shot for social media content, Toia says she does a quick round brush and curls all the hair away from the face using a 1 ¼-inch iron. “I take about 60 pics a client and I use a combination of natural light and a ring light,” she says. “I have them do a ton of different poses and I’m moving around a lot too. One thing I think is key is to have fun with it. Clients can feel awkward in that photoshoot so I’m always acknowledging the awkwardness and we’re laughing the whole time. It makes it easier on everyone. Have fun with it!”
Her last tip: "CLEAN YOUR LENS BEFORE TAKING ANY PHOTO!” says Toia. “The pictures come out so much clearer and crisper.”
In this gallery, Toia’s work takes centerstage—get those screenshot fingers ready!
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