We have a wide range of options when it comes to hair color trends. From shadow tones and midlights to pintura, a bespoke new highlighting technique that highlights textured hair with pintura – there are many options. But one technique is a constant innovating: balayage.

For a natural, sun-kissed, soft look, the salon-approved method is to paint or sweep on color (typically bleach). This gives you a more realistic, natural and flattering finish than highlights. We’ve seen balayage mapping which mapped hair along the contours of bone structure to determine the best placement of light and darker tones) and negative spaces balayage (leaving a few strands uncoloured to create multidimensional effects), but we are seeing salons in the US promoting a new technique. 3D Balayage is currently gaining popularity on Instagram, Pinterest in the UK and even Singapore.

What is 3D Balayage?

3D Balayage is great because you can take traditional balayage to a new level by enhancing it with a multi-tonal effect instead of being streaky or flat. It’s similar to hair contouring and instead of colouring your hair lighter with one single colour, you can use two or more shades as well as one is always slightly darker.

3D Balayage can frequently use a mix of bleach in order to attain a lighter strands as well as darker hair gloss treatment. Blending the two colours creates a “bleed” or gradient effect on hair. The colour will transit seamlessly from light to dark, which allows for a softer, easier blend. Another important step is to stop the backcombing, which is a step during conventional highlights or balayage processes. This will mean that there is less breakage.

The contrast of dark and light makes the hair pop more than the traditional balayage. The lighter shades will appear much brighter, especially in the lightest shade, while the darker tones tend to enhance the depth and volume, creating the illusion of thicker, fuller locks without harsh demarcation lines. 3D balayage can make hair appear longer as well. It is a great match for finer or thinner hair as it gives a semi-permanent volume increase without any need for more hair spray or teasing.

How is 3D Balayage Performed?

The roots are usually left unbleached however strandlights can be used to lighten small sections of hair along the hairline. This will result in more natural and blended balayage finishing. Experts argue that 3D Balayage is kinder to your hair because it evenly distributes bleach and darker colours. The technique you use will depend on how much lift your hair needs. Normally you don’t need to use foils. However, if you feel your hair needs extra lift or you wish to make it lighter, your colourist may require to employ foils cleverly. However, the foil will not be completely wrapped around your hair so more air can pass through. This makes the colour more subtle. This means you don’t have to distribute as much bleach through your hair. This results in less buildup. You won’t need to visit the salon every month to get a new color because it is more natural and understated finished look. It might be as often as every six months, depending on the hair type and your routine.

Who is a good candidate for 3D Balayage?

Contrary to what you might think, 3D Balayage isn’t just for blondes. Brunettes can also create this 3D effect by adding honey and soft caramel to the ends and mid-lengths of their hair. Copper is a popular colour that clients choose to use nowadays, so this shade can be used through brunette brown hair to add dimension and warmth. What should you expect from a salon? We think that it is a good idea to take a few pictures to the salon. However, you should be open to your colourist who can suggest colour tweaks that will suit your hair’s length and thickness, skin tone, and how long you are willing to keep it that way. Colourists also know that 3D balayage works best on hair with movement and flow, but it may not work well for hair above bob length. Most balayage clients loves waves, but salt spray is a great option if you don’t have the time or skills to do a wavy hairstyle.