Claudia Winkleman Is Single-Handedly Making Us Consider Balayage Again

Updated 08/09/18
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The balayage hashtag has 18 million posts on Instagram—18 million. Compared with #PlatinumBlonde (1,000,000) and #Bronde (576,000), it's probably safe to say that this is one of Instagram's most popular hair hashtags. In real life, it's easily one of the most asked-for hair colors from the past couple of years—and now, even Claudia Winkleman has got in on the act, as celebrity hairstylist George Northwood, alongside expert colourist Sally Northwood have transformed her hair from its signature dark brown shade to one of the best balayage situations we've ever witnessed.

Balayage hair
Courtesy of Head and Shoulders

Just this week, the presenter ambassador debuted this new look, and Northwood himself shared the news on Instagram.

And the colour change has come at a pretty good time for Winkleman, who has recently become an ambassador for Head & Shoulders—at least she'll have an endless supply of the brand's Supreme Colour Protect Shampoo (£5) to keep the blonde ends from fading.

As if I needed any more evidence that this technique has only gained in popularity, I turned to Google Trends and spotted that it has ballooned over the past couple of years (really gaining traction in 2015). Another key indicator of this is that Pinterest has also seen an 85% increase in balayage hair pinning since the beginning of the year. Clearly, this is the hair colour trend that just won't dye (ahem).

balayage: Brigitte Bardot
Getty; PICTURED: Brigitte Bardot, 1971

So how come its appeal has stood the test of time? I interviewed some of the leading hair colourists from the biggest salons in London about the new hair color ideas for the coming new season. While I got plenty telling me about pink and blorange and even brassy blondes, there was no escaping the fact that balayage is consistently the most popular hair colour of all.

Jenna Norman, colourist for Hershesons, said that so many clients were asking for balayage. "The hand-painted way of colouring was still really in because the technique is only getting better and better," she adds. Sibi Bolan, creative colour and balayage consultant at Josh Wood Atelier, agrees: "Right now, everyone is asking for a hippie-chic type of balayage hair; it's almost like everyone is embracing the sunshine." Or the lack thereof.

Balayage: Cindy Crawford
Getty; PICTURED: Cindy Crawford, 1993

So what is it about the technique, which originated in France during the 1970s, that has meant everyone is still asking for it 40 years on? Well, there are a few theories, but for starters, it's because it's flattering for all skin tones and hair textures.

The balayage way of "painting" on hair dye means that it gives a more natural highlighted look. It's sun-kissed without having to spend time in the sun. Plus, for those of us with darker locks, it gives a lighter lift to hair that we wouldn't be able to achieve naturally.

Balayage: Sarah Jessica Parker
Getty; PICTURED:Sarah Jessica Parker, 2009

Another reason balayage is so popular? It has the kind of anti-ageing effect that no fancy lotion or even needle can perform. Peter Oon of Oon Arvelo Salon in New York told Byrdie U.S., "For brunettes, adding caramel highlights can help to warm and soften facial features," which in turn adds volume to your hair, giving the impression that it's fuller and therefore more youthful hair.

Balayage: Beyoncé
Getty; PICTURED:Beyoncé, 2015

But as with any consistent trend (we're looking at you bold eyebrows), the real popularity push has come from the A-list. While I'm pretty sure Brigitte Bardot and Cindy Crawford were both advocates of this sun-kissed look well before everyone was asking for it (see above), the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyoncé have made this style go stratospheric. Ready for more balayage inspiration? We've got 16 celebrity looks, from short to long, as well as curly and straight, that will inspire you for next time you go to the salon.

Keep Scrolling for the Best A-List Balayage Hair Looks:

balayage: Gigi Hadid with balayage hair
Raymond Hall/Getty Images

Proving that balayage doesn't have to mean blonde painted onto brunette hair, Gigi Hadid's multi tonal honey-blonde hair looks super healthy.

balayage: Lily Aldridge with balayage hair
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So subtle you can barely see it, but the slightly sunkissed edges at the bottom give the impression Lily's just got back from a mini break (in the blazing sun, of course).

balayage: Alexa Chung with balayage hair
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Taking it up a notch, Alexa Chung's been a fan of soft balayage throughout her hair for a long time. This is the rock 'n' roll way to do it. 

balayage: Sophia Bush with balayage hair
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Just a few strands underneath your hair is sometimes all you need to give your hair lift.

balayage: Jessica Biel with balayage hair
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Jessica Biel is, anecdotally, the celeb picture that everyone takes to their hairdresser.

balayage: Eva Longoria with balayage hair
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This isn't about blonde but rather lighter brunette pieces throughout Eva Longoria's dark hair. 

balayage: Jessica Alba with balayage hair
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Another woman who is often present to hairdressers is Jessica Alba. Here, she has more blonde weighted at the bottom of her style.

balayage: Emilia Clarke with balayage hair
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Emilia Clarke's gentle balayage can barely be seen, but we love the extreme side part that goes along with this too. 

balayage: Lucy Hale with balayage hair
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Actress Lucy Hale has experimented with many different hair colours, but this is one of our favourites. There's a drama with the contrasting colours, but it works so well. 

balayage: Nicole Richie with balayage hair
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While Nicole Richie definitely sits on the blonde side of "bronde," her dedication to the balayage look has to be admired. 

balayage: Jessica Alba with balayage hair
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The only A-lister we've included twice, Jessica Alba's longer balayage is still a look that is worth trying to re-create, especially with a red lip. 

balayage: Léa Seydoux with balayage hair
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Léa Seydoux's gorgeous honey-blonde balayage is ever so chic.

balayage: Ella Eyre with balayage hair
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Proof that you can have balayage in curly hair

balayage: Jennifer Lopez with balayage hair
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While J.Lo is more bronde, the highlights definitely help to make her look effortlessly youthful. 

balayage: Beyoncé with balayage hair
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Of course, Beyoncé is a fan of balayage

balayage: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley with balayage hair
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While Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is blonde, she's often pictured with lighter pieces scattered throughout her darker blonde hair. It's this look that gives her hair, whatever its length, loads of volume. 

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