Map it out

Get your compass at the ready to create depth-enhancing colour with balayage mapping from Shannon Lewis, colourist at Jo Hansford Salon

Shannon Lewis

With the popularity of balayage showing no sign of stopping, colourists around the world are continually looking to upgrade their technique to deliver the most natural lived-in look. Similar to the Prism Lights method developed by Christel Lundqvist of STIL Salon, balayage mapping is taken from the process of mapping out sections of hair against the contours of bone structure, in order to work out the optimum placement of light and dark tones. Shannon says: “we picture the head as a compass, with South being the nape of the neck and East and West being each of the ears.”

The end result? Subtly sun-kissed, depth-enhancing colour which is unique to every head of hair.

Start by identifying a few important factors surrounding the hair, such as how it falls naturally and how it is styled usually, as aspects like the parting will determine how the hair should be ‘mapped.’ With the starting point for the colouring being the nape of the neck, it’s best to move up the hair, teasing and dyeing in ribbon-like sections.

Once you have reached the crown, Shannon says to create a triangle at the top of the hair, which acts as ‘North’, before continuing with the freehand painting. To take the technique one step further, leave some areas without colour, as this also makes use of ‘negative space.’ Finally, focus on the sides of the hair (East and West), with sections of colour painted on below the roots, which will create a natural finish, to avoid the hair looking too ‘done.’

“Balayage mapping is really versatile and works on any hair texture, type and length” says Shannon, as well as being a low-maintenance option for those who are more time conscious. Shannon suggests the colour should be refreshed every 8-12 weeks, but adds: “It’s basically a no-strings-attached hair colour.”

To see more of Shannon’s work, visit @shannonlewishair on Instagram.