Soft Balayage | Population Salon

Population Salon Mission location

As you probably know by now, I added some major highlights to my hair last week. This transformation has been in the works for a LONG time. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now, but was afraid. You see, I wanted color in my hair during my early years of high school, went to a family friend, and they completely ruined my hair. I didn’t get a couple soft highlights, I got a whole head of orange hair. At the time, I didn’t know (even worse they didn’t know either) about toners or how to fix the color, so it stayed with me for a couple of years until I chopped it off for my, according to Mike, infamous a-line bob sophomore year of college.

The traumatizing experience coupled with the fact I didn’t have a go-to stylist or salon I trusted, kept me from really embracing the change. This all changed when I was browsing Pinterest and Style Me Pretty for wedding inspiration. I stumbled upon this photo here and was fully convinced I needed that exact hair for my wedding day. Doing something this drastic just before your wedding is quite ballsy, but I couldn’t see my hair any other way. I was completely SOLD.

Population wash station

Population Salon Mission Decor

Highlight process

Soft Balayage process

Balayage Population Salon

While doing research on where to get my hair done, I landed on the Population Salon Instagram page. Adding light color to dark asian hair can be tricky, so I wanted to make sure I really knew what I was getting myself into and that the stylist knew what they were doing. Clearly, these stylist know color. Their feed is full of beautiful hair and so much inspiration. I booked an appointment with Brian and showed him a couple photos I had in mind for inspiration. We discussed my fear of having orange hair and he reassured me we’d be able to customize my color with toner. Since this was my first time having color in my hair in about 10 years, plus the fact that my wedding is so close, we went more subtle. He said if I wanted to go lighter we could do so right before the big day. At that point, I trusted he’d work his magic and just went with it.

blow dry

blow dry

How to create waves with a flat iron

Flat Iron waves

Flat Iron curls

After Balayage highlight

Soft Balayage Population Salon

Soft Balyage highlight Brian Population Salon

Crystalin Marie x Population salonPhotos by Natalie Dressed

I’m so glad I had faith, because I’m completely obsessed with the outcome! The soft Balayage is such a drastic change for me, but I love that the color is gradual and natural looking.  One of the things I noticed during the toning process was Brian matching the color to my eyes. I thought this was so genius. Keeps it all looking so natural and it really helps to lighten up my whole face. I already have a feeling I’ll be addicted to this whole color process… Mike already wants to me go lighter! I could not have had a better experience with Brian and the Population team. Be sure to check out their Instagram page here or visit to make an appointment.

I did want to mention the styling process. Brian applied R+CO Dallas thickening spray and Jackpot styling cream to my hair and then finished the look using the Population Infinity Wave technique. How come nobody ever told me about thickening spray? That stuff works miracles! It works on all types of hair, but if you have silky hair like mine, it not only gives it texture, but helps hold the curl or wave. My life has officially been changed. Thank you, Brian!



  1. March 24, 2015 / 10:41 am

    I wish we had more great salons like this over in England, this post is making me want to fly all the way to San Francisco, just to get my hair done! This is exactly the kind of hairstyle I’m after, and it looks so good on you :-) Beautifully taken pictures as always, this salon looks so lovely!

  2. March 24, 2015 / 10:41 am

    it came out gorgeous!! Wow, see sometimes absolutely amazing is just on the other side of fear:)
    The decor in that salon in phenomenal. What a great scenery for blog photos!
    you look so pretty, Crystalin;)

  3. March 24, 2015 / 11:03 am

    The color is so gorgeous! It actually is really subtle, to the point where it looks like it could be natural just from getting some sun.

    Kristina does the Internets

  4. March 24, 2015 / 4:27 pm

    Love the hair, so gorgeous! Am thinking about getting my color re-done. I’d love to see what inspiration photos you showed Brian as well! (And – I totally fear getting my hair colored too because I don’t want it to turn out orange!)

    • Crystalin
      March 24, 2015 / 5:32 pm

      Thank you, Jess! I mostly used the photo I linked to in the post :)

    • Crystalin
      March 24, 2015 / 5:32 pm

      Thank you! :)

  5. March 24, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    Your hair turned out perfect!! It looks like Brian really captured that exact look you had in mind. That’s definitely the marks of a very talented hair colorist.

    Honestly, it took me a LONG time to find someone I could trust too, and I’ve never looked back.

    Something About That

  6. Suzy
    March 25, 2015 / 8:38 am

    Super cute! The balayage turned out great! It’s hard to find the right highlight color for darker brown hai (can’t be too caramel-y or orange-y). He did a great job and you look fabulous :)

  7. Talia
    March 25, 2015 / 10:22 am

    LOVE the hair and the blog! Great work!

  8. March 27, 2015 / 5:18 pm

    Well let me tell you that this lighter color and cut looks GREAT on you!! LOVE it! Perfect for Spring and Summer! And how cool is that salon??!

  9. Liz
    July 13, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    Where do you get your hair done in Portland? I’m moving up there from SF and am looking for a new salon! Do you still come back to Population when you visit?

    • Crystalin
      January 23, 2017 / 9:34 am

      Sorry for the late reply. I’ve tried a couple posts in PDX. I haven’t found anything I love. I currently go see Aleisha at Dosha at Bridgeport.

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