Back to my roots:
When I was younger, summer meant long hot days spent in the mountains of upstate New York, skinned knees for days, and a waist-length ponytail that by summer’s end was naturally streaked the colors of sunset. I’m not sure when my hair stopped changing color to that extent, probably around the time I started adding chemicals to the mix.
Over the years I’ve added in highlights and low-lights, and even spent some years as a redhead. From time to time, I’d add in colors not even remotely found in nature, until I got bored and started over again. For the most part though, I’ve stuck to my deep brunette roots.
Let’s talk about home hair color kits
Or maybe we shouldn’t.
While I love the effect of highlights, I also hate spending hours at the salon – and I’m not thrilled with the usually exorbitant costs either.
I’ve tried every brand of home highlighting kit, and rarely get terribly excited about the results. Sure they’ve evolved over recent years and are easier to use, less smelly, and produce more subtle effects, but at-home highlights can still be an exhaustive process with uneven results
Balayage at home?
I’ve always loved the effect of balayage highlights, even if I could never quite define what it was.
For the uninitiated, balayage is a French word that means sweeping or scanning, so instead of that striped look produced by most highlighting kits or processes, with balayage you have a more muted look. Think shimmer not glitter. or actual highlights, not pinstripes.
A few weeks back I tested the new Madison-Reed Light Works At-Home Balayage Highlighting Kit which launched this summer and comes in 4 shades. As a long-time at-home hair color user, I was still a bit daunted. There are a LOT of elements to this kit which involves a two-step process and includes something called a barrier cream, a bond building cleansing treatment said to fortify newly highlighted hair along with cream color and activator and lots of other things. One of those things is a wishbone shaped application tool which is a bit awkward at first, but incredibly effective at painting on highlights instead of plopping them on randomly.
So, what did I think about my at-home balayage experience? I loved it. My highlights came out absolutely stunning and did not fade or lighten until I was in some brutal Florida sun and then all bets were off on maintaining the color.
Before you balayage:
This is not a cheapo kit and at $44.95 it’s more of an investment than a whim. It’s also somewhat difficult to use, so enlist the aid of a trusted friend or you’ll end up contorting yourself and might not be thrilled with the results. Also, leave plenty of time to apply, rinse and then apply the glaze part of the treatment.
Photo credit: Madison Reed