Put to the test: L’Oréal Professionnel French Balayage

14 July 2022
By Fashion Quarterly

Editor-at-large Nicole Saunders puts L'Oréal French Balayage to the test and discovers a colouring treatment that subtly lightens hair whilst boosting radiance and hair health.

Before and after: Nicole Saunders puts L'Oréal French Balayage to the test.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got long hair, short hair, curly hair, fine hair, red hair, or grey hair — deciding to overhaul your hair completely can be somewhat nerve-wracking. But after months without stepping inside a salon thanks to repeated lockdowns and juggling a newborn, it was time to take the plunge as a hair makeover was overdue.

While I’ve had my fair share of cuts and colours that have gone wrong — who can forget the Sun In disasters of the late 90s? — this time, I’m in safe hands. With various accolades to his name — including New Zealand’s Hairdresser of the Year and most recently the National Grand Winner of the 2021 L’Oréal Colour and Style Trophy — Mathias Te Moananui, colour director of Buoy Salon, knows a thing or two about creating seriously lustrous, healthy locks.

And since he scooped up the sought-after L’Oréal Colour and Style Trophy award for his breathtaking French balayage look, I was keen to see what magic he would work with this technique on my rebellious tresses. 

Going lighter when you’ve got incredibly thick, dark hair can be a recipe for disaster, but Moananui’s knowledge and approach put me at ease.

“Balayage can be a whisper talk or shout,” he explains. “Blonde, brunette or copper. Amplified or softened. The possibilities are endless.” 

The technique, which originated in St. Tropez in the 70s, has evolved since its inception, says Moananui. “It literally means sweeping and is named after the long sweeping brush strokes onto the hair, resulting in bronzed sun-kissed locks. Today balayage is synonymous with the look rather than the freehand technique, and can be achieved in a multitude of ways.”

Balayage has become a go-to in the hair colouring world for various reasons: not only is it an incredibly versatile look and technique, but it’s also one that, as far as colouring services go, is relatively low maintenance. A definite win-win if squeezing a lengthy colouring appointment into a hectic schedule is near impossible. As Moananui explains: “It’s also a colour that doesn’t require constant upkeep. It’s the ultimate choice for that effortless look no matter the season.”

As for what’s unique about L’Oréal French Balayagae: it is a technique that combines the best of both worlds — high-shine gloss with natural-looking lightening. “L’Oréal French Balayage is unique in that it is a two-step process,” says Moananui. “It’s lightning followed by a French glossing that leaves the hair glossy, luminous and seamless.” 

The verdict: L’Oréal French Balayage

Although I’m constantly reminded of how thick and unruly my tresses are, it’s clear I’ve become accustomed to their weight. Since Moananui chopped off serious inches, I feel like a new person as a considerable weight — aka a lot of hefty hair — has been lifted off my shoulders.

Colour wise, Moananui has created a look that’s somehow both subtle yet quite a statement. Going from a dark brunette to soft caramel tones can go wrong quickly. Still, Moananui’s expert hands have worked their magic, and my balayage looks just how I hoped it would. The lightening has seamlessly blended throughout my hair, so my tresses look naturally sun-kissed rather than over-done. Plus, I can tell this is the one type of colouring service which can get better with age. It’s guaranteed to grow out beautifully, and my already chocka diary is thankful I won’t have to squeeze in frequent colour touch-ups.

I’m equally impressed by my hair’s newfound luminosity, thanks to the L’Oréal French Glossing component of the colouring service. Locks tend to be super glossy once you’ve finished up at the salon, but it’s often a look that’s hard to recreate at home. As the L’Oréal French Balayage service cares for your hair and boosts its health whilst colouring, my tresses are luminous long after – I’m talking weeks – after I’ve stepped out of the salon. 

And while I’m on the topic of at-home care, brassiness and dullness are common issues post-colouring. Fortunately, L’Oréal has cleverly come up with the solution everyone with coloured tresses needs in their routine stat: L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox. The Metal Detox experience starts with an at-the-basin treatment that protects hair from the metals found in water, reducing breakage and promoting hair health and radiance. “L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox is an absolute must in any colour service,” says Moananui. “It’s great to have a product that doesn’t just protect against but stops the traditional damage occurring during the colour process.”


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