Balayage Highlights for Brunette, Blonde, Caramel and Red hair

Interested in an easy-maintenance, sun-kissed look? You should add balayage highlights to your strands, a coloring technique that creates natural-looking, soft highlights, that all the celebrities are wearing right now. The best part is that you can brighten up your look regardless of your hair length and color, as there are plenty options of balayage highlights for brunette, blonde, caramel and red hair out there.

In this piece I set my heart to tell you more about this amazing technique, who can wear it, the difference between it and ombre coloring, as well as provide you some great references of celebrities wearing Balayage highlights to show to your hair dresser if you’ve decided to try the look. Also, some of my hair stylist friends shared the technique for DIY Balayage highlights at home, if you’re feeling adventurous.

What are balayage highlights?

Balayage is not an innovating technique, however it resurfaced recently thanks to countless celebrities, actresses and models that have popularized it recently. Here it is among the Hair Color Trends of 2015.

Honey Balayage Highlight

Honey Balayage Highlight

Used as an alternative to foil highlighting, this method implies color sweeping or painting the strands by hand, in a manner that creates a more realistic and natural beachy sun-kissed hair.

The technique offers more control over the end result and more flexibility on where you want to place the highlights. Plus, the best part is that it makes the growth at the scalp look more gradual, which means it’s easy maintenance and you can wait a little longer before getting a touch up. Foils usually require a visit to the salon every six weeks, but with balayage, you can go eight weeks or even a little longer.

Dirty Blonde Balayage Highlights

Dirty Blonde Balayage Highlights

The technique is not just for blondes, you can sport the look whether you have dark hair, red hair or light tresses, even if you wish for more exotic shades, like strawberry blonde or caramel highlights. The use of high and low lights can add a multidimensional effect, suited for every hair color, type or length.

Balayage Highlights vs Ombre

Lingering between balayage and ombre? Although both methods imply brightening your hair color, the differences are substantial.

Ombre refers to the gradual lightening of the hair, fading from a darker, natural hair color at the roots to a lighter shade at the ends. Ombre can be done in a subtle manner or can be very striking. The demarcation line between the natural color and the dyed one at the tips is prominent with Ombre and almost untraceable with the later. Balayage is more subtle and you’ll get sun kissed highlights.

Balayage Hair Color

Balayage Hair Color

Also, there is a difference in technique between the two and there can be a difference in products use. Almost always, ombre is done by using bleech to lighten the hair color at the tips. With certain hair colors and types, by using the balayage method, you may not be required to use bleach and damage your hair to such extent.

Balayage Dark Hair

Balayage Dark Hair

Moreover, by using the balayage technique, you’ll reduce the heat-related damage associated with using aluminum foil and bleach. No need to process hair underneath a heat lamp, no brassy effect and less hair damage. If you’re looking for treatments to undo the damage created by styling tools or hair dye, here is my popular coconut oil hair mask recipe.

Candice Balayage

Candice Balayage

Here are the many choices of balayage highlights available, if you’re a brunette, a blonde or a redhead. You can find the right look for you eve if you have light, medium or dark hair!

Balayage Highlights Brunette

When it comes to dark hair, achieving balayage highlights is best handled by a specialist. Without a high lift tint that has a violet base, there is a risk of ending up with unwanted tones in your hair.

Brunette Balayage Mila Kunis

Brunette Balayage Mila Kunis

Also, if you have dark brown of black hair, a good advice would be to alternate between the two techniques discussed above, to ensure the best results.

Olivia Palermo balayage

Olivia Palermo balayage

To lighten up your hair if you are a brunette, you may need the heat from the foils to achieve more vibrant blonds as well as the balayage technique to mare the effect more subtle and achieve a blend of different tones of blond, light brown or red, depending on your preference.

Rachel Bilson Balayage

Rachel Bilson Balayage

Find a good colorist that knows both techniques to get the best balayage highlights on dark hair.

Joan Smalls Balayage

Joan Smalls Balayage

Blonde Balayage Highlights

When it comes to blonde balayage highlights, it’s important to match them to your skin tone.

Blonde Balayage Olivia Wilde

Blonde Balayage Olivia Wilde

Whether you’d look good with golden tones or ashy Nordic blonde strands depends so much on skin pigmentation that I can’t stretch enough.

Blonde Balayage Blake Lively

Blonde Balayage Blake Lively

Think golden highlights paired with darker, rich caramel tones or ash medium brown hair complimented by light, platinum blond tresses.

Blonde Balayaeg

Blonde Balayaeg

On the other hand, if you are olive or have some red tones, some cooler tones can give your skin a more natural, balanced look.

Blonde Balayage SJP

Blonde Balayage SJP

Depending on your skin tone, you want to avoid going too light. It will make you looked washed out, which you’d probably want to avoid.

Blonde Balayage Jessica Biel

Blonde Balayage Jessica Biel

Caramel Balayage Highlights

You have dark hair and you’re looking for a subtle change of color? Caramel balayage highlights are almost definitely you’re go to look.

Caramel Balayage Anna Kendrick

Caramel Balayage Anna Kendrick

Countless models and actresses with olive skin tone have picked up on the trend and went caramel instead of blond to enhance their hair color without changing it dramatically.

Eva Longoria Balayage

Eva Longoria Balayage

Check out Eva Longoria, Sandra Bullock, Shay Mitchell or Anna Kendrick to name a few.

Caramel Balayage Shay Mitchell

Caramel Balayage Shay Mitchell

Red Balayage Highlights

In my opinion, red hair has the most to benefit from subtle highlights and lowlights, as this vibrant color tends to overpower your features and color block.

Red Balayage Julia Roberts

Red Balayage Julia Roberts

By adding a few highlights to frame your face, you’ll look like a million dollar baby.

red hair balayage rihanna

Think honey blonde if you’re sporting a strawberry blond hair color or a soft cinnamon shade, mix vanilla and spice if you want a hint of blonde without the full commitment or go for cooper highlights if you’re hair color is a more vibrant red.

Strawberry Blonde Balayage

Strawberry Blonde Balayage

DIY Balayage Highlights at home

So you’ve fallen in love with the trend and you want to learn how to do balayage highlights at home. Nothing more simple! I’m going to teach you the balayage highlights technique as I’ve learned it from the top hair stylists I work with.

As opposed to traditional highlights, for the balayage look you don’t need to coat your strands in foil. You’ll only be needing a hair dye brush and some bleach to lighten the hair, plus a little know how about framing the face depending on your face shape.

Brunette Balayage

The most popular way of doing this is generally highlighting the strands that frame your face, the ones that tend to already be lighter than the rest of the hair and also follow the curvature of your hair from the shoulders down, if you have longer hair. Wherever your hair catches light, that’s the area where you want your highlights to show.

Start by sectioning your hair and secure the top section of the hair as you would to with a Half Updo. The bottom section is where you want to concentrate your highlights, especially on the sides of your head. After you finish with the sides, apply a few balayage highlights on the crown, focusing on the ones that frame your face, near the forehead.

Rose Byrne Balayage

Rose Byrne Balayage

You should leave the back section last, as your highlights in that area should start further down from the crown – where you want depth and closer to your ends. If you have a layered haircut, the highlights should be on the longer sections of hair, that are underneath. You need to study the movement of your hair to visually identify the best placement of your highlights. Hey – nobody said this is easy, but you’re the one that wants to attempt it at home!

First off, comb and section the hair in 4 – 2 sides, the crown and the back. Start with one of the sides and then mirror the look on the other side. Grab the strand that starts from the temples towards your ears. Comb it and secure it with your hand so that it’s horizontal to your shoulder line.

Mila Kunis Balayage

Mila Kunis Balayage

Gently dip your brush in the bleach/hair dye to coat just the tips of the bristles and use random light strokes on the whole section, without coating each hair completely. You should place less product on the top part, avoiding the roots and sticking to a V pattern and use more as you approach the ends of the hair. This is sort of like a more subtle ombre effect, to describe this in a more visual way.

After you’ve finished with that section, instead of coating it in tin foil, place a sheet of plastic foil to protect the strand when you work on your next section of hair. It clings to the hair easily so you don’t have to worry about wrapping it like you would tin foil. Also, because it’s transparent, you’re able to see how the dye is processing and when it’s time to wash it off.

Jennifer Lawrence Balayage

Jennifer Lawrence Balayage

Next, it’s time for the crown. Work your way through the top section of the hair on either sides, following the same balayage highlights technique I explained above. When it’s time to work on the back section, you should start further down from the roots, in order to have more depth at the crown and lighter sections towards the ends.

When you’ve finished applying the highlights and your entire head is covered in plastic foil, allow the dye about 15-20 minutes to process. Remember it takes 72 hours for the cuticle of your hair to close after it’s been opened during a coloring process, so try to wait that long before shampooing. You can rinse and condition your hair, but don’t wash it with shampoo. There you go – the complete DIY balayage highlights technique to use at home!

Now that you know more about the technique and how it differs from the Ombre style, saw the inspirational photos from your favorite celebrities sporting the look and you’ve learned how to do balayage highlights at home, there’s no stopping you from achieving this awesome look yourself. Go pretty!

 

About the author /


As a professional make-up artist and beauty enthusiast, Luiza's expertise has become highly prized over the years. As owner of this site, she set her mind to create a publication for those who are focused not just on beauty trends and popular brands, but also on the industry's most well-kept secrets.

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