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Is Baliage a Poor Man's Color?

How to tell if you're a "foil woman" or a "baliage women"

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Is Baliage a Poor Man's Color?
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Eight years ago someone said to me that baliage was considered the poor man’s color. In the years since, as baliage has grown in popularity, I have met many hairstylists who agree with this. Because baliage allows the stylist to act as artist, sweeping color on the hair where it fits best, it seems less time-intensive than foils, which require the styist to paint small strands of hair and encase them in packets of foil for processing.

It's time to tell the truth about baliage. As a man who loves to do foils, I am also a big fan of baliage. For some clients, baliage is simply the better option. It's also a technique that can prove to be very time-consuming and requires a certain artistry that foils don't.

It’s a known fact that people are afraid of what they don't understand and that's the problem with baliage. The most negative remarks seem to come from hairstylists who have never tried the technique. My policy is don't knock it until you try it.

Here are some key questions I answer all the time.    

Which Takes Longer: Foils or Baliage?

  I am often asked is baliage faster than foiling. The speed really depends on the amount of hair and the desired effect. You can take a brunette and paint a few pieces of hair and change her life in 10 minutes or paint a blond and take one hour painting 'til the cows come home. Either way, it is going to take some time in the hairstylist’s chair.   

Which Technique is Better: Foils or Baliage?

I am someone who loves to foil, but I firmly believe that there is a "foil woman" and a "baliage woman." Who you are really depends on the desired look.

I can take a brunette and foil a few pieces and make it look good. But I can also take a brunette and carefully paint pieces that look like a burst of color which will grow out really well. The main difference between the two techniques is that the head is round and the foils are square. A square foil commits you to work within that square, whereas baliage allows you to move around freely carefully looking at the colors around the strand and working within the existing colors. When we place a foil in the hair (before applying color) we instantly block hair beneath. 

For those of you who think these little details don't make a difference I say to you, "I am an artist!!" (in a French accent). 

Is One Technique Cheaper in Price Than the Other?

  The problem started when hairstylists started switching from foils to baliage and were afraid of their foil client wanting to pay less because baliage can be faster in some cases. Please keep in mind it’s not always faster. The cost is up to the hairstylist’s discretion. If your stylist wants to paint 3 pieces of hair and take an hour and charge you the same as foils then that's on their conscience. Personally, if it’s a few pieces I'm painting I will make adjustments. If there is a lot of work, then I charge accordingly. When you sit in a hairstylist’s chair, it costs money for his or her time (as you know, time is money). 

  Getting these questions out of the way, let’s approach this subject in more detail.     

What's the Difference Between a Half Head and a Full Head?

This no longer exists. We used to do "half heads" (color on only a portion of hair) when clients were very timid with color (especially bleach) and techniques and tools were a little dated. These days after highlights we do glazes or base breaks which is a whole other color application. Also women are far more aware of what a great blond looks like. So the days of walking around with half a head colored have been left behind with the dinosaurs. Clients now style their hair on a daily basis and are fully aware of what they look like from behind (literally).   

Who is Your Ideal Foil Client?

  This woman loves being blond, hates roots but does not want to be a single process blond. I can put 200 foils in her hair taking super thin sections and give her a flawless blond with just a shadow of root. As the hair starts growing, the shadow actually helps blend the color for a more natural look. Root regrowth is much more obvious on a single-process color. Some blond hair lovers are aware that people know that they are not "natural blonds" so a little root after getting there hair colored is fine. They prefer to not have a single-process bleach blond which only looks natural on 1 out of 50 women.   

Who is Your Ideal Baliage Client?

This client could be a brunette with a few natural highlights or a blond that wants full coverage but wants a more "rooty" feel which then allows her color to grow in a bit more natural. Doing foils on this woman could result in too much coverage or too little. The in-between is easily achieved with baliage. 

  Like with foils many things can go wrong with baliage, but that's up to the individual stylist who's doing the work. Make sure you are working with an experienced stylist who takes their time to get the desired effect. So I urge both clients and hairstylists to try baliage. You may like it (smile).

Antonio Gonzales is a stylist with the Orlo salon in New York City. You can read more of Antonio's hair advice on his blog.

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