Balayage 101: The Hair Trend Here To Stay

Balayge 101 | The Petite Bijou

Streak highlights? Forget them! Ombre? No thanks.

We are in love with the hottest new hair highlighting trend: Balayage.

So what exactly is this strange word balayage and why is it important?

Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou

I was so intrigued by this new hair highlighting technique. I had never had highlights done and was scared out of my mind the first time I tried Balayage. My hair is very dark – I’m talking pitch black in fluorescent lighting but a dark brown in the sun. I have some warmer red undertones. My first “dye” job was a dark auburn and it didn’t really work well. Highlights have always been on the back of my mind – my dark hair has a tendency to wash me out and make me look pale and sick. Of course, it’s not always the case, but having a warmer tone was something I wanted to try.

Naturally, I needed an expert’s opinion on whether or not this new trend was right for me. So I sat down with Crystal Gretzinger, Chicago’s best balayage artist and owner of Sogna di Vita Salon in Wicker Park. Not only is she super sweet but incredibly talented. She specializes in balayage, haircuts, and bridal hair styling Crystal has been trained by the best in this technique – and it’s no wonder she’s Chicago best = her portfolio is amazing.

Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


So, Crystal, what is Balayage? 

Balayage is a French highlighting technique that means “to sweep”. This organic hand painted technique creates a sun-kissed natural highlighting effect, embracing your natural root and progressively getting lighter towards the ends of your hair. Women love this process since its low-maintenance and allows for months at a time between color appointments because there is less visible outgrowth than your standard foil highlights. Balayage really is the best of both worlds—you can still feel like yourself with your base color but can add brightness and dimension throughout the mid-shaft and ends.

What is the difference between Balayage and ombre?

Ombre is more of a statement color and is very trendy. Ombre means “to shadow or shade”. It’s a progression of color that fades from dark to light or opposite light to dark.

Balayage is a modernized highlight that is very natural and “sun kissed” It looks as though you’ve been in the sun all day.


Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


How light can I go with Balayage? 

Balayage is a more gentle lightening process, so several sessions may be necessary to receive the desired look. It is important to keep in mind what compliments your natural hair color and skin tone. Typically 3 levels lighter will be the best complimentary tone.

Am I a good candidate for balayage? (Psstt…I was so worried I wouldn’t be with my dark hair)

Balayage can work for any hair type, length, and cut. It allows your stylist to be very artistic and customize the color to you.


Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou

Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


How should I prep for Balayage?

Maintaining healthy hair by using a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. I strongly recommend a heat protectant.

How long does the process take?

Average time for balayage is two hours and lasts for months! Balayage ages very gracefully. It’s like a fine wine and gets better with time.


Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou

Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


How do I maintain my Balayage?

Balayage highlights grow out so natural usually clients don’t have to touch it up for about 3 months. Be sure to use professional color safe shampoo and conditioner, as well as a heat protectant to take care of your investment.


Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


What are you predicting for upcoming trends?

Lived in hair (yesss!!!), pastel colors – such as rose golds and opals, as well as mixing tones warm and cool tones.


Balayage 101 | The Petite Bijou


I was so surprised to learn that i was a great candidate for Balayage. I thought I would NEVER get highlights because of how dark my hair is. Crystal gave me some champagne highlights that were only 3 tones lighter than my natural color. After adding a toner, the champagne highlights looked super natural – like I’ve been at the beach all day.

And the highlights are subtle. It’s not “across the street” obvious like some ladies out there. Yikes? I always get compliments on how lovely the highlights look and how natural they are. The best part? Super low maintenance. Crystal taught me everything I need to know about keeping my highlights colorful and longer lasting:

  1. Heat Protection – my favorite (here) and (here)
  2. Color retaining shampoo – love this one (here)
  3. Wear a wide brim hat (favorite here) and avoid harsh chemicals on the hair.

If you are in the Chicago or Chicagoland area, I highly recommend going to see Crystal at Sogna di Vita Salon. She offers great services and is the sweetest hair stylist. She knows what will work for you and what won’t.

Are you dying to try some Balayage out? Check out our Pinterest hair board (here) for some ideas!


What questions do you have about balayage or hair care that Crystal can answer for you? We are hoping to start a hair series on the blog! Let us know in the comments below!

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Behind The Blog

The Petite Bijou is an online destination featuring wholesome yet sophisticated living and styling tips for women. The site is run by the family and friends of survivor, lifestyle influencer, and writer Mariam, who passed away in the summer of 2020.  Mariam also hosted The Bijou Show, a self help podcast.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Samantha wrote:

    I’ve never coloured my hair with highlights or anything before, but I love what you did with it!! xoxo

    Posted 3.10.16 Reply
  2. janna doan wrote:

    mariam–great post, i never knew what the difference was so thanks for explaining. btw–i always adore your hair. i’m actually getting so many grays the past few years and might need to break down and dye my hair for the first time in my life. i will admit i’m a bit terrified of the maintenance that will follow bc i’m so lazy! so thanks for the tips at the end. xoxo,

    janna |

    Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  3. Annie wrote:

    I love this review of Balayage! I had this when I first got into coloring my hair and then eventually made the move to full on highlights. With my hair breaking/falling out recently from some health issues, I’m thinking about going back! Your hair looks gorgeous!! YOU look fabulous. xo Annie

    Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  4. Audrey wrote:

    so beautiful!!! I love your post!

    Posted 3.8.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thank you so much, Audrey!!

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  5. I need to get my hair done soon and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the baylayage trend!

    Posted 3.8.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thanks for stopping by Taylor! Balayage is seriously the prettiest thing I’ve ever done to my hair!

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  6. ruthie wrote:

    Love this post Mariam. Love all the details you shared and you look amazing!! xo

    Posted 3.7.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thank you so much Ruthie!!

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  7. Mary wrote:

    Your hair looks so good!!! I keep thinking I want a hair color change ! totally might be trying this 🙂

    Posted 3.7.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thank you so much, Mary! You should definitely give it a try!

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  8. So beautiful love!!! Hugs, Kait

    Posted 3.7.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thank you so much, Kait!

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  9. Gail wrote:

    Great post Mariam and your hair looks great. A perfect look in time for spring. Funny, I never realized how long your hair was – it looks wonderful! Xoxo

    Posted 3.7.16 Reply
    • Mariam wrote:

      Thank you so much, Gail! My hair is pretty long but when it’s curly it shortens up quite a bit. You should see how long it is when I straighten it!! Halfway down my back.

      Posted 3.8.16 Reply
  10. Esther wrote:
    Posted 3.7.16 Reply