Balayage hair ideas for every color and texture
by Bella Cacciatore
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So many hair-color trends come and go before you can even book your colorist, which is why it's a big deal when one has staying power. Balayage hair—which first became popular in 2014 and has stayed that way ever since—happens to be one of those. In fact, the technique is pretty much the most defining hair trend of the past decade, and it's responsible for the beachy, effortless color all over red carpets and Instagram.
What is balayage?
Simply put, balayage is a highlighting technique that doesn't use foils. Instead, your hair colorist will hand-paint color directly onto your hair, creating more natural, blended, sun-kissed color. Despite being a softer effect, it also allows your colorist more control, and it's crucial for creating all those blended-drink-inspired hues like brown ale and raspberry bourbon.
In addition to its versatility, balayage is beloved by clients and colorists alike since it not only looks more effortless, it actually takes way less maintenance than traditional highlights. We rounded up some of of favorite examples of the technique, below. Scroll on for the best balayage hair ideas to try this year.
Golden Peach Balayage
Peach hair is trending hard right now, but for a more natural take on the trend, go for a pretty swirled ginger like this one.
According to Chicago colorist Rex Jimieson, his clients have been moving away from the more defined ombré they’ve been loving in recent seasons. Instead they’ve been asking for a look that Jimieson dubbed tweed hair, essentially subtle highlights that are evenly distributed. “A contrast is still present, but not as ‘overachiever’ as seen in recent seasons,” he says. One of our favorite versions of the look? This rich brown with golden balayage pieces from Simplicity Salon in South Florida.
When the weather heats up, you can never go wrong with classic face-framing highlights like these by Cherin Choi, colorist at Nova Arts Salon. Even if you go for higher-contrast shades, the placement feels natural, since the sun is most likely to lighten the pieces by your face.
If you’re still thinking about Zendaya’s Emmys hair but don’t want to go full auburn, add some red tones to darker hair. Red is notoriously high-maintenance, but done like this, it’s easy to keep up. “Even if you have a base color for gray coverage, you can add highlights once or twice a year,” says Elisa Barnett, a colorist at D.C.’s Ian McCabe Studio. She recommends asking for half-head highlights in sun-kissed caramel and golden tones.
Brown ale hair has a deep mahogany base and swirls of amber highlights. “It's different from traditional brunettes because of the richness and the depth it provides,” colorist Colin Caruso tells Glamour. “It’s warm without the brassy or mousy undertones some people associate with traditional brunettes.” He says the shade is perfect for this time of year since it's a great way to go deeper and richer for the cold weather ahead while still offering a touch of warmth.
“Lived-in color creates a look that has a natural regrowth with no noticeable grow-out line, since the darker regrowth blends into the lighter hair with no stopping or starting point,” says Ramirez, who's behind this color. Think of it as a really blended, even more natural, and low-maintenance version of balayage—with all the perks.
Starbucks has nothing on this gorgeous shade. Just be prepared to sit in your colorist's chair for a while. “This process usually takes four to five hours from start to finish,” says Orlando colorist Gerilyn Ghaisarzadeh, who paints on color in a series of V's and W's, which she says creates the natural lightened appeal of a balayage.
Pastels Purple Balayage
Forget sun-kissed. This blend of unicorn pastels, seen on lifestyle blogger Tala Samman of MyFashDiary, is the stuff of our Lisa Frank dreams.
Bangs can get in on balayage too. Incorporating the tone into long, grown-out bangs, like Ciara's, gives hair color a cohesive look.
Rainbow tones are a growing trend in balayage. "Colorists are realizing that you can go beyond the basics," says Ortega. "Picking key pieces of hair to paint for each individual based on your specific needs creates a unique, one-of-a-kind outcome."
A naturally bold hair color, like red, doesn't eliminate you from playing with color. Going from true strawberry to strawberry blond is basically foolproof—and bonus, it makes red look more natural.
Long Waves and Balayage
Brushed-out waves, glossy hair, and that multitonal look? Olivia Wilde knows how to make the most of balayage.
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