Hair Color

All About the Babylights Balayage Technique

Updated April 30, 2024

If you’ve scrolled through any social media hair feeds lately, you’ll notice a bevy of bespoke color services available. Services with cute names like teasylights, color melting, foilyage, and babylights. The truth is, there are more services every year, they are more alike than different, and each new service has its turn in the sun as the hottest new hair trend. Today, we cover the babylights balayage technique.

What are Babylights?

Babylights come from a desire to mimic the dimensional hair often seen on (you guessed it) babies. Babylights are exceptionally thin highlights weaved with precision to create slight tonal shifts in your base color. At first glance, babylights might be difficult to discern, but in actuality, these subtle highlights add a lot of richness and vibrancy.

Babylights Balayage Technique Vs. Other Balayage Highlights

One common factor shared among all highlight services is it’s pretty noticeable when you have them. With babylights, it’s not always so obvious. The babylights balayage technique is less about highlights after a whole day in the salon and more about the sunkissed highlights you get after a whole week in Hawaii.

A before image of a girl with grown out hair getting ready for babylights.

Who are Babylights for?

Babylights work well for every hair type and base color. They are ideal for those who want a modest change. The babylights balayage technique also works great as a first step into coloring your hair because the finely targeted sections are less damaging than all-over color.

Babylights are a fantastic technique to bring up your base color while avoiding the sometimes flat appearance of an all over color. With versatile placement options and natural blending, babylights are perfect for bumping up your base or perfectly matching hair color to your eyebrows and skin tone.

Lastly, for people with fine hair, the babylights balayage technique’s dimension can provide the illusion of thickness and volume.

How are Babylights Done?

Your stylist takes baby-fine sections of hair (usually with lots and lots of foils) and highlights them one or two shades lighter than your base. With small amounts of hair in each foil, and little separation between, the highlights blend seamlessly for an overall brighter look. But, a more radiant look with shimmering dimension.

Small sections of hair put into foils for a babylights service.

Babylights are About Sections and Placement

Baby hair is naturally lighter at the crown and ends. The babylights balayage technique recreate this effect by placing finer accents at the hairline while softly graduating to more saturated ends. Just like baby hair, the best babylights start softly at the scalp and are the lightest at the ends.

The Babylights Process is Time Consuming

If you watch the video above, you’ll see the babylights balayage technique process is long and requires a lot of detail and technical work. With your stylist only painting a few hair strands at a time and folding each of those strands into foils, expect to spend a bit more time in the chair, and a bit more money to boot.

The Babylights Process is Long and Requires a lot of Detail and Technical Work

Are Babylights Just for Blondes?

While most commonly seen on blondes, babylights benefit just about anyone. The overall goal with babylights is to add depth by feathering in shades lighter than your base color. Caramel babylights on a dark brown base add a vibrant warmth while copper tones on a red base can create a burnt auburn. Both of which add natural warmth to your skin tone. Whether blonde, brown, thick, thin, long or short, babylights have their place.

What is Babylights Maintenance Like?

With the right placement of highlights and a soft approach at the root, babylights grow-out should be pretty minimal. Like balayage highlights, babylights have a smooth, blended grow-out without harsh roots or a noticeable line of demarcation. Expect a mid refresh every six to eight weeks with a more significant refresh every twelve to fourteen.

A rooted babylights service with low maintenance grow-out.

Amy Carmody’s Babylight Process

To get a more personal perspective from someone doing this service every day, we asked the video’s featured stylist about her babylights approach.

Amy Starts with Thin Slices

Amy told us she likes to start with thin slices. Slicing the sections thin makes it possible for the lightener to reach the roots. This is ideal for blondes who don’t want a grown-out look. As you can see in the video, because the slices are so thin, it takes a ton of sections (and foils) to cover the whole head.

Taking small sections for a seamless babylights blend.

Babylights and the Money Piece

Strong face contouring highlights are hot right now so Amy takes her slices up diagonally from the ear and around the front hairline. She then goes heavier in the bang area and around the face to create the strong “money piece” face-framing highlights.

Amy toning a babylights service.

Babylights Have Two Options When Toning

When Amy goes to tone, she has two options: base bump or root smudge. Base bumps add a brighter base color to your roots. Base bumping brightens your babylights and makes them more noticeable. For root smudging, Amy blurs where the root and color meet.

These two approaches are opposites. Base bumping is for a brighter root while root smudging blends your natural root to help on maintenance and go longer in between appointments.

The Best Babylights Products

Even with the gentle approach of the babylights balayage technique, lightening takes a toll on your hair’s health. Not to mention, you just spent a lot of time and money balancing all those foils on your head. Protect your investment.

It’s always important to note. We are a Bumble and bumble dedicated salon full of Bumble fanatics. We swear by the brand. Thankfully, they have several products to keep your hair in a healthy state and help with styling too.

Styling a fresh babylights color service.

Babylights Primers and Styling

One salon favorite and persistent best-seller is Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer. It’s a magical blend of six light oils that help soften, silken, tame and makes styling a breeze. To go along with the HIO Primer, get Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil to protect against breakage and UV damage.

Restoring and Repairing Babylights

For optimal virgin-like hair health, use Bumble and Bumble’s Save the Day Daytime Protective Repair Fluid. This repair fluid is infused with camellia oil and UV filters to help repair and strengthen hair. For nighttime repair, use Bumble and Bumble’s primrose-infused While You Sleep Damage Repair Masque.

It’s All About Babylights, Baby

Wrapping up, babylights are a popular technique because they work well on any hair color, type, or length – and they can be as subtle or dynamic as you desire. While the time in the chair and associated cost might be a bit higher, the maintenance is minimal. So what do you think? Are babylights for you? Let us know in the comments.