Thursday, October 31, 2013

Psst, is that cling wrap?

I admit I've got a bit of the western Pennsyvania bluntness. I remember blushing with shame at things my mother used to say overloud, such as: "It must be hard for her to carry all that weight, poor thing." Or, in the clothing aisle at Kmart, "Just take off your shirt and try this one on. No one's watching."

Recent case in point: Sitting in the salon chair for a cut, I was caught up short by a mirror-glimpse of the woman in the chair behind me. It looked as if her stylist was working on some kind of Halloween costume, adorning her client's hair with spiderweb filigree and some kind of slimy looking film.

"Is that cling wrap?" I said to Jeff, overloud.

Jeff glanced over his shoulder and chuckled. "She's getting balayage. A French technique. It makes the most sense for people with longer hair." (Than mine, he meant. Mine's quite short these days.)

At the next opportunity, I dug my iPad out of my purse and snapped a photo. The girl getting the balayage glared at me, but said nothing. (Good thing my daughter wasn't along to suffer painful embarrassment.)

"So how long have they been doing this balaysia technique?"

Jeff smirked and shook his head. "It's pronounced 'bah - lah - yahge.' I don't know. People do it in part so they don't have a distinct line as the hair grows out."

It turns out the technique isn't all that new, it's just the first time I'd encountered it. A 2011 article in Vogue  goes into more detail about the "balayage effect." It appears it takes three visits, one every six weeks, to get started, so even if it grows out more attractively, it doesn't strike me as a more frugal option than a foil.

The Vogue article introduces yet another term I was unaware of: "ombré hair." More on this technique (also apparently of French derivation, since the verb ombrer refers to shading one color into another) and the difference between ombré and balayage, is found here.