The Italian Balayage provides the perfect blend of structure and freehand customization that curls crave.
Keep curl clusters intact when highlighting textured hair, advises Alfaparf USA National Artistic Director Cassie Siskovic.
Lightener is first applied freehand to front sections, and then applied to the back in a diagonal bricklay pattern.
Beautiful hair color starts with healthy hair and that means lots of moisture and frequent trims, says Alfaparf Milano Master Colorist and Texture Expert Jeannetta Walker-Rodgers.
Get ready for a customizable technique that’s perfect for all hair types and textures. This new balayage technique combines structure for controlled placement with creativity for an artistic outcome, the perfect way to highlight textured hair. It’s called Italian Balayage, and many say it’s a dream come true for curly hair. “When working with textured hair,” explains Alfaparf USA National Artistic Director Cassie Siskovic @cassiskovic, “it’s important to understand the canvas—the formulation and placement that’s right for curls. This technique is a roadmap that accommodates customization.” Here’s everything you need to know.
See the Italian Balayage technique, start to finish.
HEALTHY HAIR IS EVERYTHING
There are four things every stylist should keep in mind when working with textured hair, according to Alfaparf Milano Master Colorist and Texture Expert Jeannetta Walker-Rodgers @watchmyhairbounce.
- Hydration is everything. The goal is to achieve springy, shiny curls that are less prone to frizz, and having a proper hydration routine in place is the key.
- Another important factor to consider when working with textured hair is protein. “For porous or fine hair, be sure to include protein in the regimen to hold the hydration,” Walker-Rodgers says.
- Regular hair cuts are a must. “Regular hair cuts keep split ends and knots at bay, which makes detangling a breeze,” Walker-Rodgers says.
- Protect hair at night. Instruct clients to sleep in a soft, slippery-to-the-touch sleep cap or on a pillowcase of the same material. This reduces the friction caused by cotton, wool or flannel.
CUSTOMIZE THE FACE FRAME
Alfaparf Milano’s Italian Balayage technique begins in the front. “Look at the hairline, the fringe and customize your placement accordingly,” Siskovic says. “Make the highlights as bold or as soft as needed. Tailor this section to the client’s needs, as it’s the most important.”
MOVE TO THE BACK
Curly hair, particularly if it is thick and coarse, can be overwhelming for a colorist, so this is where Alfaparf Milano’s Italian Balayage zeroes in. Siskovic applies highlights in a diagonal brick-lay pattern, which lets her maintain order, blend the color and keep each section clean as she works. “This is the blueprint,” she explains. “It’s quicker and less overwhelming to work with this sectioning, especially when a customer has a lot of hair! Another great reason to work with the bricklay pattern is it makes it that much easier to go back in for touch ups.”
Once the Italian Balayage roadmap is established with the sectioning, it’s time for freehand painting. “With curly hair, it’s important to grab curl clusters, and paint the natural definition of the curl within the bricklay sections,” Siskovic explains. “This is a visual exercise. Look for areas where you may want to break up darkness or create dimension. Look for areas where you want more impact, highlights or added depth. It's specific to the canvas. And remember, when you are working, don’t separate a curl grouping—keep them intact to create definition. And don’t over-manipulate the curls when coloring.”
FORMULAS—LIGHTENER AND TONER
Lightener choice depends on the hair texture and the amount of lift desired. For Italian Balayage, Siskovic loves Alfaparf Milano’s BB Bleach Free Style Lift. It’s a clay lightener that creates a hard shell that maintains moisture and allows the hair to process without heat. “I never use more than 20-volume developer on textured hair,” Siskovic adds. “If the hair needs more, I’ll schedule multiple sessions rather than intensifying the formula.”
“When working with highly textured hair it’s important to go low and slow. If you don’t, you risk breaking down the natural curl pattern,” Walker-Rodgers adds.
When it comes to toning, Siskovic likes that Alfaparf Milano color features micro-crystalized pigments, which means the formulas require less ammonia to open the cuticle. “Because of this, I often feel comfortable using Evolution of the Color permanent formulas to tone if the client wants an all-over color shift,” she says. “If not, I’ll use a Colorwear demi-permanent formula.”
HOW TO KEEP COOL
Erasing warmth and achieving a cool highlight result is often at the top of a curly client’s wish list. Here’s the solution. “Cool tones with curly hair can be tricky,” Siskovic explains. “Because cool tones absorb more light than warm tones, hair appears darker. What’s more, curls absorb more light than straight hair. So even if you want a cool end result, it’s important to include a warm element in your toning formula to maintain reflection and shine. When I’m formulating for a cool client, I’ll add a couple of pumps of Alfaparf Milano’s Ash Gold Pigment. It has a cooler base but gives me the gold support I need for reflection. The hair looks healthy and shiny.”
HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS
“I don’t guarantee my color unless my clients use the right products,” Siskovic says. “I’ll walk them through our beauty diagnosis map that allows me to assess the hair and recommend the best care products. All of our Semi di Lino ranges have the Color Fix complex and Shine Fix complex, which is great. For curly hair, I’ll usually recommend Alfaparf Milano’s Nutritive system because curls almost always need moisture. To keep the color vibrant even longer, I’ll also add a couple of pumps of Ash Gold or Violet Ash Pigments to their take-home mask. I love using Pigments because they can be mixed with almost everything.”
MASTER TEXTURE CERTIFICATION
Whether you’re comfortable as can be with curls, or you’re tentative about texture, ongoing education will move you into the curl comfort zone. Alfaparf Milano’s new Master Texture Course can help stylists navigate the vast range of textures. It’s taught by Walker-Rodgers and was created for stylists who want to become more comfortable working with textured hair and/or wish to build a textured hair clientele. The two-day hands-on session covers theory and fundamentals, lifting and toning natural and chemically altered highly textured hair, styling techniques, and salon and home care needs.