Balayage Mapping: The Smart New Technique About To Transform Your Hair Colour

From negative space balayage (leaving pinches of strands free of lighter colour to create a multidimensional effect) to balayage ribboning (dyeing much larger chunks of hair to look like ribbons of colour floating through the lengths), there are heaps of Instagram-worthy balayage trends out there at the moment. But of course, the best results lie in smart techniques.
Most colourists will section and dye hair randomly for a natural, lived-in look, while others will ditch foils for eco-wraps to enhance colour payoff in certain areas, but according to Jo Hansford Salon in London's Mayfair, there's a brand new method on the horizon: balayage mapping. And it has the ability to totally transform your look.
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"Balayage mapping is coined from the process of mapping out sections of hair against the contours of bone structure to work out the optimum placement of light and dark tones," colourist Shannon Lewis, who developed the technique in salon, told R29. Think of it like contouring or sculpting for your hair. Shannon continued: "We picture the head as a compass, with South being the nape of the neck and East and West being each of the ears." The result? Subtly sun-kissed, depth-enhancing colour suited to you personally.
To start, your colourist should identify key aspects of the hair, such as how it falls naturally and how you usually wear it (up, down, in a side or centre parting) to determine how the hair should be 'mapped'. The starting point for colouring is the nape of the neck. At Jo Hansford, colourists move up the hair, teasing and dyeing in ribbon-like sections. Once the crown is reached, a triangle is created at the top of the hair (North) and hair is teased and painted with dye. Some sections are left free of colour to fashion a negative space effect. Then, hair is worked on at either side (East and West). Sections of colour are painted on below the roots to create the illusion of a natural, grown-out colour, so that the finished result doesn't look too 'done'. A toner, such as L'Oréal's Oil based Pre Lightener, £13.79, should then be applied to tone the colour.
"Balayage mapping is really versatile and works on any hair texture, type and length, depending on how soft or severe you want the colour," continued Shannon, who suggests refreshing your hue every 8-12 weeks. "You can even leave it longer between appointments because balayage grows out really naturally. Some people get it done once a year. It’s basically no-strings-attached hair colour."
But whether you book in for a refresh or let your colour grow out, it really pays to take care of your hair post-balayage. "Olaplex or L'Oréal Smartbond (a treatment you can have in salon) helps strengthen the hair," added Shannon. "Also use a colour hair conditioner, a hair mask once a week, and a good oil. I like Illuminoil, £12, because it’s not at all heavy or greasy and gives coloured hair a brilliant shine."
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