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Last updated: June 10, 2022

3 Tips To Create A Watercolor Balayage

Low Contrast Balayage Using Your Client’s Natural Tones

For clients who like natural-looking dimension without drastic tonal changes, watercolor balayage is the way to go. The subtle shade range delivers a model-off-duty look to supplement the wash-and-go trends (and easy grow-out phase!) we’re hearing clients ask for. Keep reading for three pro tips on how to master this technique for your next client. 


1. Build A Base With Lightener

When lightening up your dark clients, precise placement is key to assure gradients pop without looking harsh. Alfaparf Milano National Artistic Director Cassie Siskovic (@cassiskovic) recommends starting with a tip-out around the head and adding a strong face-framing piece to build a lightened base before the watercolor balayage. 


To create a balanced weight line, try this trick:

  1. Take a small section on the top of the head for an initial weave.
  2. Gently backcomb to soften the look for the low contrast effect. 
  3. To identify where to begin painting your weight line, reference the client’s money piece. These sections should match up identically for a seamless blend.


Lightener formula: Alfaparf Milano BB Bleach High Lift 9 + 20-volume developer. 


Want to try this technique? Enter to WIN $300 of Alfaparf products to recreate the look!


2. Use Multiple Formulas For The Watercolor Effect

Using three formulas will work together to create the diluted, seamless watercolor effect. Apply to damp or dry hair depending upon the level of deposit you’re looking for. 


1. Formula A: 1:3 ratio with Alfaparf Milano Evolution Of Color³ permanent color cream shade 7.35 + 5-volume developer. 

Apply about an inch away from the root and down to the midshaft. The formula ratio and low volume developer create the deepest tone in the balayage, adding depth and mimicking the client’s natural level. Pro Tip: Cassie recommends surface saturating this section. By lightly painting just the surface of the hair, you’ll create the beginning of a soft watercolor effect. 


2. Formula B: Equal parts Alfaparf Milano Color Wear cream in shades 6.53 and 9.3. 

Apply from where Formula A ended, blending down and overlapping formulas until just before you reach the ends.


3. Formula C: In an applicator bottle, mix Alfaparf Milano Color Wear Gloss Toner shade 0.823 + splash of 08.8.

Apply to the ends, being sure to fully saturate the porous hair. Then, blend up through Formula A and B to create the watercolored effect. “The more you overlap your formulas, the more watercolored it will look because you are blending all your formulas together,” says Cassie. 


3. Check Blending During Process Time

Using three formulas after a lightening service for one client sounds daunting—but it’s actually quick and easy. The three formulas used will vary in level but carry a similar tone, making blending seamless and nearly fool-proof.


Check out this mid-process shot from Cassie’s client. See how the blend is already seamless before shampooing? This is exactly what you want your processing to look like when creating a watercolor balayage!



End result—a stunning, natural-looking balayage! 


Your turn to try! Check out more low contrast tips here for your brunette clients:

expensive brunette filling the hair how to do lowlights and reverse foilayage to tone without going green alfaparf color wear @paintedbyashleymarie
Pro Tip: Utilize brightness from your starting canvas for a face-framing effect.


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