Expert Content Series 

Feat. Callie Jo Lathan

Hey guys! My name is Callie Lathan, @TheBalayWhisperer on Instagram, and I have been a hairstylist in Millbrook, AL since 2010. 

I am a salon owner, educator, mom, wife, a lifelong student, and hopefully, a mentor.

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a stylist. I loved every part of it, the freedom, the travel, the creative culture, etc.

I quickly figured out the reality and discovered how hard the job actually was. To make a long story short, I started at the age of fifteen as a shampoo assistant, I put in my time, and developed a real passion for the industry and education. 

Callie's Journey

I opened my salon six years ago with one of my best friends and we pride ourselves in offering a culture like no other. We are uplifting and supportive, and we love to see our stylists succeed. About a year ago I was chosen to be a Sunlights Balayage Educator, and this opportunity has fast-tracked my career and allowed me to train under one of the most influential stylists and educators today, Candy Shaw. I have had the luxury of having her as a mentor and friend, it has truly transformed my career.

For the longest time, I considered myself to be a “DIY” er, which meant that I could totally teach myself balayage from YouTube (eye roll) and become a pro! I quickly realized that balayage wasn’t as simple as “just painting the hair.” And if it was… EVERYONE would be pro.

Through educating, I have discovered that most of today’s stylists struggle with the exact same things that I did, which really fueled me to want to help bring more REAL education to the hands of more stylists.

I help stylists build their confidence in freehand painting, give them tips on how to work smarter not harder, and deliver an awesome consultation so that they can give their clients exactly what they are looking for and ultimately make more money!

Tips and Tricks

I am going to give you some tips and the three most important things that create a beautifully blended balayage using Sunlights Balayage Lightener (which if you haven’t noticed, is my GO-TO).

Before finding Sunlights, I had tried several “balayage” lighteners and could never get the lift I was looking for. But also, learning how to work with the lightener is equally as important.

Listed below are the 3 Pillars to a successful balayage:

1. CONSISTENCY- Lightener should be thick like cream cheese (yum) or toothpaste. We always say “if you think it’s too thick, mix it thicker!” If it is too thin, you will end up with a messy application which will result in a messy outcome (bruising, spotting, lines, etc).

I love passing the bowl around after a mix in my classes, students are always stunned at how thick the lightener and the right amount of developer are. I recommend your mixing ratio 1:1 (30g or 1oz) Sunlights + (30g or 1oz) 40vol (YOU HEARD ME RIGHT, of any cream developer), Oh, and check out the Sunlights Suncreme (50 vol) HOLY GUACAMOLE, its amazing.

2. BRUSHSTROKE- When applying the lightener, it's in a sweeping motion, hold the brush perpendicular to the hair. Do not place the brush flat against the hair or push it down as you would when foiling, that will cause an uneven distribution of lightener.

I always tell my students to paint with your pinkies up to ensure a soft sweeping application.

3. SATURATION- Maximum lift occurs when you have painted with maximum saturation. Fully cover the strand with the product to ensure lift. Candy always says “If it’s not white, it's not light” and “If you see brown you’re going down.” If you see hair through the lightener, you will not achieve enough lift.

Your lightener on the hair should appear solid white, which is what makes for those FABULOUS processing pictures you see all over social media.

Honestly, I could tell you tips and tricks for hours because if there was a balayage mistake, I MADE IT. Just remember, take a deep breath, you CAN do this and I am already so proud of you!

I am here if you have ANY questions at all, please email me or check me out on IG (@TheBalayWhisperer).

Come to class with me and lets the paint the world yellow together, and if you are ready to paint like a pro, head over to to stock up on all of our amazing products and tools. Happy Painting, friends!


-Callie Jo Lathan