When it concerns highlighting in makeup, I’m well versed, well practiced, and well equipped with every inspiration, technique, and product to colour myself and and every variation of iridescent. When it comes to hair highlighting however, I’ve been sceptical to say the least, harbouring no desire in my 24 years to enter a hair salon for anything but a cut and blowdry. The occupational hazard of beauty writing however is [aside from a bathroom overrun with beauty products and sleeve-cuffs stained with lipstick pigments] the slippery slope that sees one increasingly pulled into the world of beauty treatments. Undoubtedly the area advancing most rapidly - more so in my opinion than product development - going for a facial is no longer a simple process of face mask application, and getting a manicure requires more than just a deliberation over shade choice.
Hair colouring is hardly groundbreaking, granted, but having ones hair coloured opens a doorway into a whole world of colour enhancing hair treatments - an intriguing world previously barred to me, and I reached the point where I wanted the hall pass. I decided to make my first foray into the world of hair colouring with something super subtle - balayage, a French colouring technique developed in the 1970s where colour is applied by freehand technique. I wanted a change that would make a difference, but be subtle enough that I still looked and felt myself, and above all wouldn’t require high maintenance aftercare.
Five minutes spent consulting with Barn It’s talented colour specialist Nancy Stripe assured me this was not going to be a regrettable colour experience - promising soft, natural highlights, and low maintenance aftercare. Balayage is Stripe’s passion, a subject she is clearly still as excited by, interested in, and dedicated to as when she first started out in the industry 16 years ago. A big name in the hair industry [so much so that a friend text me mid treatment “OMG, Nancy Stripe is doing your hair??], Stripe has recently taken residence at the newly opened Barn It, a veritable treasure trove of beauty treatments and Pinterest-worthy interiors in the heart of Manchester city centre. Barn It is the Bergdorf’s of beauty salons, four floors of beauty treatment stations each manned by experts in their fields, offering everything from full body massages to hair styling, manicures, laser facials, Botox, waxing, tanning, and more. I arrived armed with reference photos [pro tip: make a Pinterest board] “I want to look like I just got back from holiday”, I told her. She knew exactly what to do: a half-balayage that results in a beachy, sun kissed look.
“Balayage isnt a ‘one size fits all’ concept” Stripe told me as she passed me a cocktail [the salon has a dedicated bar and resident bartender]. “There are so many different tones and shades to choose from, and the intensity of colour is completely down to you”. Working in the same way that highlighting does to the face, balayage brightens the parts of the face where list would naturally hit, using clever placement and contrast technique. Stripe sectioned off my hair analysing where the sun would naturally hit it, “It’s all about placement when you want to get a little lighter and brighter without losing your natural colour” she said as she painted feathery strokes onto my strands before swaddling them in what looked like clingfilm.
The plastic was removed after a quick 45 minutes, followed by a colour safe treatment c/o Alterna. I left what can only be described as a ‘golden glow’, seamlessly blending with my still-brunette base, and hair that appears more textured and layered. The lighter pieces frame my face, lending a hint of depth and definition. My colour is quiet enough to look completely natural, but for those who know me it’s a shiny new accessory that lights up my complexion, and has earned me compliments from everyone from my barista to my Instagram followers. The best part is that regrowth isn't an issue, the treatment can easily last a year without maintenance. Not that I’ll be waiting that long, blonde ambition is a slippery slope that I’m veritably nosediving down.
For more information, and to book your balayage treatment at Barn It, click here.