Going burgundy red: Experiments with balayage on dark Asian hair

Balayage, we all know the look. We’ve seen it on so many Hollywood celebrities from Rachel Bilson to Jessica Biel to Drew Barrymore in the last two years that it’s been a hard hair trend to miss. Only what do you call it? It has many names, from two-toned hair to ombre hair and of course balayage.

But what is balayage? As the other names hint it, it’s two-tone / ombre hair where your roots slowly blend into another colour. It’s a great way to create a sunkissed look without going for the harsher looking ‘highlights’ or to subtly grow out a hair colour without subjecting your hair to hard hair colouring again.

What I wanted to do:

Often when Asian’s, Indians and people with dark dark brown hair try to go lighter, it ends up going brassy and orange. We all know the look. Which is why I have often avoided colouring my Asian hair because regrowth is also my idea of a hair-related nightmare.

But being female and a sometime-trend follower, I have wanted to give balayage a go. I didn’t want to go a lighter shade of brown or blonde (I would look like a reversed Top Deck chocolate bar) so decided after playing with some nail polish that burgundy was the way I wanted to go. It was a colour without going pink but it was also not orange (aka brassy looking) or blonde.

Who did it and where:

When Original & Mineral (O&M) emailed me to tell me about their own range of hair colour called Mineral CCT that is ammonia, PPD and resorcinol free (and that they had just opened their own salon in Paddington in Sydney), I felt that it was time to colour my colour-virgin hair. With an appointment made with Wayne Lewis, Technical Director for Original & Mineral and Colour Director for Original “A” Salon (formally Atlantis Hair) locked in, off I went to their new salon at 388 Oxford Street, Paddington in Sydney.


I was a bit nervous at first, I was a colour-virgin having never dyed my hair before (I did once try spray on Fudge colour back in the late 90s, but I don’t think that counts). But after a chat with Wayne who had to listen to me emphasize the word ‘subtle burgundy’ about 20 times, I left my hair in his very capable hands.

After carefully segmenting and lightening thin layers of my hair, he applied O&M’s Mineral CCT colour and there I sat for just 15 minutes with glad wrap around my head as the colour developed.


The result – well the photos say it all don’t they?

The burgundy is subtle but a nice change from having a that block of black shiny hair that Asian hair naturally is. Now that I’m no longer a hair colour virgin, I think I’m ready to go a few shades brighter. Soon. After I think about it some more 😉

Afterwards we asked Wayne a few questions about hair colour – specifically about going from a dark colour to a lighter one.

Dark haired girls (and guys) always seem to want to go lighter, what are you hair dying tips for them? How light should they go?

Any lightening done on very dark haired people should be done in salon and not attempted at home as these tend to go bright orange or yellow. In salon, it may take a couple of appointments to reach the colour you desire but this process is worth the wait and its also vitally important to use the correct salon recommended products at home for maintenance.

Its important to make time at home to maintain your new look. E.g. when we buy a new car, we make sure it is always cleaned, polished and kept tidy and service – we commit time to its maintenance. Such as any change in a hair colour or style, you need to commit time to maintaining that such as treatments, detox shampoos and/or products to maintain the shine and/or glossy hair so its always looking salon finished.

What are some things people should not try at home with their hair?

Lightening hair more then one to two shades, trying to colour blonde hair temporarily. Blondes hold colour, nothing will wash in or out, once its washed in, it will tend to stay. Any sort of DIY chemical straightening should not be done at home. It takes four years to become a hairdresser so why after reading a package for four minutes do you think, you will be able to get a salon finish?

Stay tuned for more about O&M’s new Mineral CCT product and
my absolute favourite products you can take home.

Note: The hair colour appointment was courtesy of Original & Mineral, thoughts and comments are our own. 

1 Comment

Comments are closed.