Precise, linear highlights were once the only way to go in your colorist’s chair, but any Instagram feed or Pinterest landing page will show you that when it comes to lightening your strands nowadays, the more effortless or “undone” your color looks, the more it’s admired. For this reason, and because of the way its untraditional technique allows your hair to blend in naturally with the highlighted color, balayage has been one of the most sought-after services in salons in for the past few years. But a new technique is picking up steam across the country and is rumored to look even more perfectly imperfect than its competition. Enter: palm painting.
Explained simply as “brushless hair painting” by Raisa Cabrera, celebrity colorist and color director at Mizu Salon in New York, palm painting involves spreading color with your hands freestyle, rather than with brushes or tools, as you would with balayage. “There’s a big difference with how much quicker you can apply the color, too,” Cabrera says, adding that it can also be done more strategically so that lighteners work faster (meaning hair isn’t overly processed (who doesn’t love less damage?) like it usually is when foils are used for balayage or traditional highlights). Because palm painting involves applying color into large sections of hair with your hands, Cabrera says you won’t see that striped look you often find with foil highlights. Instead, the technique delivers fluid, smooth color throughout the hair. “The overall effect is much more natural than you’d get when using balayage.”
Plus, because the color isn’t applied close to the roots with palm painting, there’s much less maintenance involved, as well, which also means less chemical damage for your strands. “Palm painting is an ideal technique for someone with any color or length hair, not just for blonds or those with long hair who want to create more dimension,” Cabrera explains, noting that the method does tend to work better on straighter hair types. Intrigued? Check out some of our favorite palm-painting inspiration below, and don’t forget to bring them in to your colorist if you want to try it out on yourself.