Balayage ideas for brunettes looking for a luminous lift, or blondes looking to take their color down a shade. Let’s start with the different balayage techniques that work well on a brunette base, then take a look at the best balayage colors for brown hair.

Brown hair natural balayage

All hair artists are unanimous: the traditional balayage technique is perfectly suited to medium and light brown hair. Typically, the ends are saturated in color and loaded in the mid-length (face level) before being feathered up to the root and brushed all the way down on the surface. Lift certain sections by two tones, and the result is a beautiful sunkissed glow on brunette hair.

French balayage for brown hair

The French balayage is one of the best balayages for brown hair if you don’t want the hair to look at all colored. How does the French balayage differ from the classic balayage? This type of balayage for brown hair is even more subtle than the regular balayage technique: a multidimensional sombre more than an ombre finish, where the end result is chic, elegant and never over-the-top.

For this, the key is in the application. Use a two (V) or three (W) point application technique on teased sections and lift by only a tone or two. 

Foilyage on brunette hair

Outside the hair color world, not many people know what “foilyage” is. If faced with a quizzical look, explain to your client that foilyage combines the traditional highlighting technique of using foils with the sweeping freehand technique of balayage. Hence foil plus balayage = foilyage!

Foilyage can be one of the best balayages for brown hair if you’re working with a darker brunette base, and especially on thicker hair types. You can use your artistic balayage creativity on the hair, but then leave the foils to get more lift.

Best balayage colors for brown hair

Firstly, let’s start with a balayage idea for brown hair on the lighter end of the color spectrum. For cool skin tones, an ash brunette balayage looks especially good on a shorter haircut like a chin-length bob. Apply the French balayage technique (1:1 mixing ratio) using Blond Studio 9 Oil Developer 20-Volume and Blond Studio 9 Oil Developer 30-Volume.

Then rinse with INOA Post Color Shampoo and gloss the hair with DIA Light in Deep Ash Milkshake & DIActivateur Developer.

For considerable lift — from a 1 (darkest black) to anything 6 (medium light brown) and above, for example — Blond Studio 9 is a professional favorite. Explain to your clients that their dark hair can become light brunette and even blond with a gorgeous balayage, and their color possibilities are endless!

From dark brunette to light brunette with balayage

Your client has dark brown hair and wants to lift it to a light brown shade? You’ve decided to use the balayage technique to make the hair look more natural. Use the Blond Studio 9 Lightening Powder + 30-Vol Blond Studio 9 Oil Developer and apply in feathered zig-zag patterns on the lengths and ends, starting at the nape and finishing on the money pieces (face/fringe). Process until reaching a yellow undercoat, then mix 9.11 DIA Light + 9-Vol DIActivateur Developer, rinse hair and tone for up to 20 minutes.

The best balayage for brown hair should look as if your client has spent a few weeks in the sun. For an in-depth tutorial of how to do balayage on dark brown hair, check out our article on “How to Balayage Brunette Hair”. (lien: Balayage brunette hair)

Reverse balayage for light brown hair on a blond base

Or, from the opposite perspective, what about a client with a blond base who wants to drop down to an ashier light brown shade? This is called a reverse balayage, and is a popular balayage option for blondes, especially looking to grow out existing highlights.

Select one or two colors that are a tone or two darker than the existing blond, then paint using the balayage technique, ensuring that the darker sections sit below and above the light sections, not side-by-side (to prevent stripes). These darker spaces are called “negative space” and are essential for all truly natural-looking balayages to create depth. Leave plenty of root space untouched, to allow for seamless grow-out.