Hair, New York, Spas & SalonsBalayage at Mizu

Who: Miguel Angarita

What: Balayage style highlighting

Where: Mizu Salon, New York 505 Park Ave.

When: M: 10-7, T-Fri 9-8, Sat: 9-7

Why: Because highlights should look so natural that no one asks if you’ve gotten them.  They should look like this, not this.

Before heading out to the Hamptons last Saturday, I first paid a visit to my new favorite Park Ave Salon: Mizu. I had heard of the Boston salon from Sara, who had named it one the swankiest in her city, so when I needed a little emergency hair color, I immediately thought to call up the newly opened Manhattan location. I had gone months without a color touch up and gotten to the point where I was tempted to Photoshop my hair before posting pictures. As I was hoping to impress the polo players, I realized that two inch roots was not a good look.

The salons, opened by Elan Sassoon (as in Vidal’s son), boasts a sleek, modern all white interior and brings New York’s downtown design to a discerning uptown clientele.  Even on a Saturday morning in the summer, the space was bustling with activity- yet as expected, service was quick, friendly, and attentive.

I was lucky to have been taken care of by Miguel Angarita, a friendly, non pretentious and incredibly talented colorist.  I gave him the ultimate task- the same one that I ask of every colorist- to remove all the red pigment from my naturally dark black hair, work over 3 years of nonstop color (including impulsive box coloring in my bathroom), and deliver a Milla Jovovich-esque light ashy brown with golden highlights.  Check out the before and after below!

So how did Miguel do it? Well first, he pointed out that the last gal who did my hair went crazy with the foils- which is totally true.  As the purpose of highlights is to accentuate the texture and movement of hair, a full head of foils defeats the purpose as it flattens out the contrast between the highlights and the hair’s naturally darker shade.  Second, he pointed out that Milla’s hair is strategically lightened around the face and along the ends to recreate the  natural look of sun hitting her hair.  Lastly, he said my color had faded into orange- which was mostly my fault, but also partly because the last colorist didn’t remove enough of the red out of my hair.

Instead of using foils, Miguel used a technique called balayage,  a coloring method where the highlights are swept onto the hair.  If you thought that highlights result in unnaturally looking streaks (like this, from an old dye job)- think again! First the hair is teased and backcombed, then the color is painted on in sections.  Unlike traditional foil highlights which is very scientific and accurate, the balayage method is more like the artist freely painting on canvas.  In the hands of a skilled artist, balayage highlights deliver the most natural looking results.   Within each section of hair, part of it is teased back and only the section below is highlighted.  Therefore, when the uncolored hair rests over over the treated hair, the contrast in color creates depth and movement.   Balayage is also not as damaging to the hair as traditional highlights since the paint stays on the hair for a shorter amount of time (about 10 minutes) and the hair cuticle is not forced open with heat.

While I was getting my head painted, Miguel shared some valuable tips for color.

– Bring in a picture to the salon of what color you want you hair to be.  While many salons, Mizu included, offers swatches, it is impossible to determine from a 1in by 1in piece of synthetic fiber how that color would look transcribed to a full head of hair.

– Ask for highlights towards the middle to ends of your hair instead of at the roots.  As a serious colorist, Miguel DVRs every single fashion show and he claimed that not one model had highlights around the roots.  Not to mention, avoiding highlights around the roots can extend your in-between salon visits by up to another 4 weeks!

– In order to avoid over processing your hair, make sure your colorist can work with your existing hair color.  As it turns out, Miguel only colored about 50% of my brassy hair but he strategically placed lowlights in certain areas to create the illusion of lightness next to the darkened hair.  Then he took a blue toner to remove the remaining orange out of my color.

– Have your colorist go lighter around your hairline and around your face in order to illuminate your skin.

Here’s another shot of my “after hair” in artificial lighting- where you can see still see the contrast between the light and the dark and how natural it looks.  Now when I look back at pictures of highlights I’ve gotten before, I’ve realized that the point is to fake people out into thinking you have naturally gorgeous hair that just happens to be 100 shades of brown (or blonde or red) instead of having someone call you out and ask “did you get highlights?”

Miguel only works in the New York Mizu location, but he has offered three lucky TDO readers a $50 off gift card to see him at Mizu!  Simply leave a comment if you’re in the market for a new color, and we’ll draw three winners next week!

Mizu New York is located at 505 Park Ave on 59th St.


  1. Julie  |  23 July 2009 at 8:13 PM

    wow your hair looks great!! i’ve never colored my hair before but if i was i would def go to the salon u went to!!

  2. Amy  |  23 July 2009 at 8:49 PM

    I’ve only had the foils so this would be interesting to try.

  3. gee  |  23 July 2009 at 9:41 PM

    your hair looks so nice and natural! i’ve had the same hair color (undyed) since junior high! i’d love to try something new 🙂

  4. Carolyn  |  23 July 2009 at 10:17 PM

    @Julie @Gee – I had virgin hair until about 3 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. It’s not that I dont like black hair- I do, but since my hair is so dark it is difficult for it to pick up natural highlights and it ends up looking like a flat black canvas… I really love how highlighting has created more texture and dynamic into my hair 🙂

  5. Jessica T  |  24 July 2009 at 7:01 AM

    I need highlights! Boost the volume, baby.

  6. Laura  |  24 July 2009 at 7:49 AM

    I had virgin hair until I tried box coloring/bleach highlighting when I was 14 (BAD idea). My hair was dry, brittle and damaged for the next 4 years and I’ve been deathly scared to try highlights again. How is your hair holding up to coloring? Do you have any tips for taking care of colored/highlighted hair? (Btw, I do love the new highlights!)

  7. Carolyn  |  24 July 2009 at 8:37 AM

    My hair is great!!! Before I started coloring it, my hair was just really oily and heavy all the time and never styled (too healthy, they say). After I roughened up the cuticles a little with some dye, it now holds styles/curls/blowouts much better and is a lot less oily. For color treated hair, try using a natural non sulfate shampoo. I’ve had a lot of luck with Fekkai natural products!

  8. nd  |  25 July 2009 at 6:58 AM

    highlights came out great! i’m impressed. its def hard to figure out asian/darker hair highlights, i’ve had my share of disasters…would love a try at this salon!

  9. Caresse  |  25 July 2009 at 9:34 PM

    May I ask… what brand are the sunglasses that you’re wearing

  10. cathleen  |  26 July 2009 at 5:17 AM

    I need something new so badly! Like that he didn’t try to make you a blonde!

  11. mike  |  26 July 2009 at 12:09 PM
  12. carolyn  |  26 July 2009 at 4:04 PM
  13. juliana  |  26 July 2009 at 5:18 PM

    Your color looks amazing… please please pick me..I need a hair makeover..bad blonde junkie..keep thinking ok..I will do it during lunch..

  14. de  |  5 August 2009 at 10:17 AM

    hi, i’ve been googling “balayage” for awhile now and found this website quite helpful. i’ve never had my hair colored before but now that i live here and rarely see the sun, i’m in the market to get a natural look like i used to get each summer from mother nature. i would love the opportunity to see miguel with a discount. thanks for sharing your story here.

  15. helena  |  13 August 2009 at 3:58 PM

    how much did it cost for balayage?

  16. Vera  |  3 October 2009 at 5:06 AM

    Balayage sounds terrific…I am wondering if it is done on both long and short hair!

  17. Adriana Sassoon  |  14 June 2010 at 6:09 PM


    Great article about mizu.
    Thank you.
    If you want please visit me at my blog:
    All the best;
    Adriana Sassoon

  18. jeanne Cathcart  |  3 August 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Just went from Blond to brown waited 3 months hating the brown, then toned it to add richness, making it too dark 🙁 help I want to be a pretty blond again, help me Miguel <3

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