Hand Painting: How It Works & Why You Should Be Doing It Hand Painting: How It Works & Why You Should Be Doing It
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Last updated: September 18, 2020

Hand Painting: How It Works & Why You Should Be Doing It

Hand Painting How It Works And Why You Should Be Doing It
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Everything You Need To Know About Hand Painting

You’ve heard of hand painted highlights…but not like this! More colorists are using their hands—instead of brushes—to paint and blend lightener, and we had to know why. So we’re breaking it all down below with the help of four BTC Team Members who are masters at painting with their hands! Keep scrolling for the deets.



What Is Hand Painting?

Simply put, hand painting is literally using your hands to apply and blend lightener in order to achieve a lived-in, beachy blonde hue. The reason why so many colorists use this method? “With my hands I have more control over using my brush,” says Mickey Colòn (@mickeycolonjr). “I can feel the consistency of the lightener.”


Watch How Mickey Paints With His Hand In The Below Video!

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How It’s Different Than Using A Brush

A brush is great for detail work—like painting the face frame—whereas the hands are great for covering more surface area. “Using my hands, I’m able to apply more product to more hair at a time. The smooth surface of the hand creates a very seamless blend,” shares Philip Foresto (@philipforesto). “It’s a great technique for fast and efficient blonding.”


Let’s Talk About The Blend

When Liz Haven O’Neill (@lizhaven) does her signature hand paint balayage technique, she’ll use both a brush and her hands. She’ll use a brush for precise application and then she’ll use her hands to blend and blur. “I love the approach of blending with my hands because it delivers a seamless end result EVERY TIME,” she shares. “There’s literally no need for a toner or a color melt. The blend is there compliments of the application and placement.”


Watch Liz’s Hand Paint Balayage Technique In The Video Below!

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Who Is The Ideal Client?

The good news is that there’s a style of hand painting for every hair type, Mickey says you just have to customize it for each client. But because hand painting creates the ultimate beachy hair, Liz says someone who wants a natural-looking, sun-kissed, low-maintenance look is ideal. “It’s extra impressive on Levels 5 and lighter,” she adds.


Who Is Not The Ideal Client For Hand Painting?

While this technique can be used on all clients, hand painting does come with its share of caveats:


  • If they tend to be impatient, aka their goal is to be in and out of the salon as fast as possible, then Wes Palmer (@wesdoeshair) says foils are the best way to go.


  • If they want to control warm pigments, Liz says it would be better to take a foilayage approach.


  • If they have a darker starting level, of course, it’ll take multiple sessions to get their desired level of lightness. “I prefer hand painting on Levels 6 and above,” shares Philip. “Typically on darker levels hand painting can result in unwanted warmth.” 


CLICK HERE For 5 Tips You Need If You Prefer To Hand Paint

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