Home Hair How To Do Caramel Balayage on Dark Hair
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How To Do Caramel Balayage on Dark Hair

by Sandy Taylor

For the at-home colorist, creating a true balayage technique on dark hair can be difficult. However, there are easy ways to create light caramel pieces that will give your hair added dimension and brighten up your face.

In this post, I connected with hair professionals in the industry and asked them how they do caramel balayage on dark hair.

Kerry Yates, a hair expert from Colour Collective, provides the following step-by-step guide to do caramel balayage on dark hair.

What You Will Need:

  • Slant tip hair color brush – If you do not have a hair color brush, one of your makeup brushes with a slim depth and a 1/2 inch width will work. You can also use a mascara style wand.
  • A rat-tail comb – If you do not have one on hand, you can use your fingers but it will be a lot harder to separate the hair areas.
  • Aluminum Foil – cut into 3 inch wide strips and roughly 12 inches in length
  • Home Lightening Kit – If you have a previous color on your hair, you will need a kit that contains bleach. If your hair is all-natural, you can use a kit like Madison Reed Light works which contains a toning lightening cream plus treatment.
  • Gloves
  • Color Depositing Conditioner, Mask or Color Gloss – use cool, neutralizing, light pale, smoky blue, steel, or  lavender shades.

What You Need To Do:

  1. Since you are doing your own hair, it will be challenging to get the back. So instead, let’s focus on the front or what some will call the money pieces. This is the area around your hairline and depending on your hairstyle, this will be the hair that frames your face.
  2. You will want to section off 1/4 – 1/2 inch of hair around your hairline based on your hairstyle. This means if you follow the line from the top of your ear on one side of your head to the ear on the other side of your head and 1/2 – 1 inch back. This is the section you will be lightening to create your light and bright new look.
  3. Choose your desired lightening product, mix thoroughly, and ensure the consistency is creamy with no bumps/lumps.
  4. Now using your rat-tail comb, take a very thin slice, think no more than 1/8 of an inch in-depth, just the wispy bits.
  5. Using your application tool of choice, dip it into the lightening mixture.
  6. Pulling the hair, so it is taut, paint the lightening mix onto the middle of the section, then all the way down to the section end.
  7. Grab your foil and gently pace the painted section within the foil to keep it separated from the rest of your hair.
  8. You will want to complete roughly 5 – 6 sections but no more. You want the hair to look like it was kissed by the sun, not create a whole section that is lighter than the rest of your hair.
  9. Process for roughly 15- 20 minutes until you achieve a caramel to pale caramel shade. You can open up the foils to see how the color is processing.
  10. Once you achieve your desired level of lightness, rinse, shampoo and dry your hair.
  11. Follow with your preferred toner in the form of a color conditioner or color gloss and follow the directions on the package.

Tips to Ensure Success

  • Take small bits and paint on following the line of your hair
  • Don’t over process – follow the recommended time on the package of your lightening product.
  • Invest in a treatment mask as using bleach of any type will impact the overall feel of your hair.
  • Focus just on the front section, do NOT try to do your back bits yourself
  • Do not apply lightener on your roots. Balayage is meant to focus on the ends and the areas of your hair exposed to the sun.
  • Do NOT be afraid to use a blue or violet toner. These toning shades are meant to neutralize the warm, brassy effect of the lightener and will help you create that beautiful perfect caramel color. If you are nervous about using the toner, then first apply for a minimal amount of time. Rinse, check the color, and reapply. Small increments are acceptable if it gets you the desired results with no stress.
  • Be kind to your hair. Do NOT comb/brush wet pre-lightened hair as it can cause breakage.

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