Bin the Balayage and Rediscover Highlights

I’m over balayage. There. I said it.  The hair-lightening method has enjoyed more than a moment in the sun and, quite frankly, I’d like to see the back of it.

I get the appeal. When it’s done properly, it can be beautiful. To do it, the colourist paints colour freehand through the tips of the strands and you get this gorgeous Gisele-sun-kissed-after-a-summer-frolciking-around-Tulum effect. I’ve been doing it for years and I really do enjoy how low maintenance it is, but I think some people are using the balayage trend as an excuse to let their colour grow and fade out. If I see one more brassy, dip-dyed, fried-ends ombré I might just flip my chestnut-coloured lid.

When Goldwell offered me a colour transformation for Summer I thought it was a great excuse to try something different. A date with Goldwell Color Expert Heath Grimmond from Prema, was simply too good to refuse.

I front up to Prema salon in Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction, a bustling salon full of cool kids sporting impressive cuts. Heath warmly welcomes me and within seconds has me caped and happily ensconced at a big communal table, with a green tea. The hair colour table works well because you don’t have to stare at yourself for hours with a head full of foils.

“Everything fashion wise coming through for summer is going to be bright and quite happening,” he declares. “So hair wise it’s been pulled right back so everything’s going back to quite soft, natural tones. Highlights are really subtle and blended.”

Hey, I’m a child of the nineties. I love the idea of super fine highlights a la Cindy Crawford. I tell Heath that and he pulls out some look books of hair colours and some Goldwell hair colour swatches and we talk through the colours he’s going to mix up for me. 

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“What I’d like to do for you today are some hints of warmth, so you’re going to have honeys and caramels, and vanillas and malts because you’ve got that bit of warmth in your color already. And for you, I would love to do a “halo of illumination!”  

The impressively coined ‘halo of illumination’ is Heath’s own highlighting technique where he places super fine highlights around the face to lift the complexion (“Better than botox!” he quips). It’s also hidden under the part so it’s super low maintenance as well (a big tick for busy mum’s like me).

Heath systematically starts painting pin-thin highlights in a halo formation around my face. The lightener he’s using is called Goldwell Silk Lift and Health explains that it leaves your hair in 25% better condition than the standard powder lightener. It also then has an anti-yellow system, which prevents that brassy fade you can get with lightening.

When he finishes the highlights, he paints on Goldwell Colorance  (a gentle demi permanent) along my midlengths and ends and a permanent colour called Goldwell Topchic through my roots to prevent greys . This super high tech permanent colour promises 100% grey coverage and a technlogy that puts back in the lipids (essential oils within the hair) that are lost during the colouring process.

“Topchic also has Coenzyme technology which helps to eradicate free radicals which happen through the coloring process and Equalizer System 2.0 which helps to repair structural indifferences in the hair shaft while you’re colouring, to protect the strength of the hair.”

Heath and I post-highlight sesh at Prema

Heath and I post-highlight sesh at Prema

It sounds more like the latest Apple software than a hair dye. Hair colour is getting increasingly high tech and it’s impressive the amount of research and development that goes into making sure your hair is protected from damage when colouring in the salon.

An hour or so later, Heath tones the colour (which takes out warm undertones) and it’s finished. A bouncy blowdry reveals a super glossy hazelnut mane with beautiful praline honey highlights. 

I couldn’t be happier – it’s fresh and summery and perfect for ringing in the Summer months. I love that it’s as low maintenance as balayage but is a more polished look. Now, about that holiday in Tulum...


Story by Sigourney; photography by Titus Pengelly; Colour by Heath Grimmond from Prema; Hair and makeup by Sarina Zoe; Sponsored by Goldwell.