Wet Balayage Vs. Dry: Which One Should You Try?
Latest Color Techniques Used By Your Stylist

Wet Balayage Vs. Dry: Which One Is Right For You?

11 April 2019
wet vs dry balayage
photo of Jessie Amato

Jessie Amato

Junior Beauty Editor

After a decade at the very top of the salon totem pole, the balayage technique is still going strong. Whether you’re looking to achieve subtle ash blonde dimension or add depth to your dark brown hair, you can trust traditional balayage to do the job. After a recent scroll through Instagram, however, a new way of applying color caught our eye: wet balayage. The hand-painted technique promises similar results to dry balayage with a slight twist on how the color is applied.

Wondering which coloring technique is right for you, wet balayage vs. dry? We tapped J. Ladner, Redken RTeam Member, and George Papanikolas, Matrix brand ambassador, to get the full break down on wet versus dry balayage.

wet vs dry balayage

How does wet balayage differ from a dry balayage application?

Balayage is a freehand technique where highlights and lowlights are strategically painted on to your strands to create a seamless, natural look. The wet balayage technique follows almost the exact same steps as dry balayage. Instead of starting with dry hair, however, your colorist will blend the color onto wet strands.

Wet balayage is when you dampen the hair with water before starting the balayage process, so the hair is wet when you start painting...With wet balayage, you pair a demi-gloss with a lightener to create depth and light in one sweeping motion.

wet vs dry balayage

Who does the wet balayage technique work best for?

Why exactly should you opt for wet balayage versus dry? According to Ladner, a wet balayage application can save you serious time sitting in the chair.

“When you dampen the hair with water, the salt and hydrogen bonds start breaking down, which allows the lightener to lift quicker and more seamlessly,” Ladner explains. “It allows you to cut down the processing time because you’re depositing and lifting at the same time.”

If you’re looking for a dramatic color transformation, Papanikolas suggests sticking to dry balayage. Since colorists cannot achieve as much lift on soaked strands, he says the wet balayage technique is great for creating subtle pops of color.

The most common application is to do a delicate face frame hand-painted to soften the color around the face, and to bring back highlights darkened by a single process color to lightly brighten up the hair.

Though when it comes to wet balayage, Ladner says there’s so much more you can achieve with the technique.

“You can use it for someone who is just experiencing color for the first time and wants a subtle blend, in a color correction scenario, or for someone who is blonde and just wants more added dimension,” Ladner says.

wet vs dry balayage

What kind of maintenance does wet balayage require?

Once you’ve achieved your dream wet balayage, Ladner says there’s no rush to head to the salon for a touch-up. Instead, he recommends refreshing your color with an in-salon gloss treatment every six to eight weeks.

Wet balayage might require little salon maintenance, but you’ll still want to revamp your hair care routine to care for your new hue at home. Begin by swapping out your regular shampoo and conditioner for a system formulated for color-treated hair.

“I recommend using Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner to help maintain color, vibrancy and shine,” Ladner says.

Since your colorist will need to use bleach to lift the color, the damaging effects can take a serious toll on your strands, Papanikolas recommends investing in the Matrix Total Results Rebond system for extreme repair.

Ready to try wet or dry balayage for yourself? Be sure to use the hashtag #HairDotCom to share your final look with us.

Interested in trying a wet or dry balayage? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

Take Our Highlights Finder Quiz

I like this article
Be the first to like this article

Oops, something went wrong! Please try again later...

More to discover

photo of woman with mustard yellow hair
22 January 2019

Mustard Yellow Hair Is The Blonde You Need To Warm Up For Winter

Read on for everything there is to know about mustard yellow hair, winter's spiciest blonde trend.

photo of woman with smoked marshmallow hair
14 January 2019

Smoked Marshmallow Is The Low-Maintenance Blonde You Need For Winter

Looking for a low-maintenance blonde that's perfect for winter? Read on for everything you need to know about smoked marshmallow hair color.

photo of hair coloring in salon how to lighten dyed hair
23 November 2018

How To Lighten Dyed Hair In 4 Easy Steps

An expert explains how to lighten dyed hair the salon approved way.

Salon Locator

Salon Locator

Can your hair look as good as your Pinterest board? Short answer: YES. Long answer: STILL YES… but you need a professional salon and the right products to get you there. Find the best match for your style, hair goals, and price range now. Find a hair salon near you to get your dream hair now.

We use cookies to give you the best user experience and personalisation on our site and third party sites. By continuing to browse our website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, see our Cookies Policy.