How to balayage for brunette hair

The balayage technique is a favorite request from clients looking to lighten their brown hair. From color choice to types of balayage and application techniques, here are some balayage ideas for brunettes to share with your clients. 

“Brunette” is not only trending on social media, it’s made its way into the salon! Explain to a client asking for a balayage for brunettes: “hair color labelled as brunette is dark brown, even black”. Recommend they look at a hair level chart to check: 1-3 are brunette shades, 4-5 are brown and 6-10 are blond. Then, if they confirm, you can explain the different balayage styles for brunettes. Dealing with a brown base? Read our article dedicated to brown hair color balayage.

Balayage hair color for brunettes: complement your client’s skin tone

For a complexion with warm undertones, stay on the warm side of the color spectrum when doing a balayage for brunettes. This means paying close attention to how long you leave your lightener on (you want warm, not brassy blond), and likewise with your toner (don’t cool the tones down too much). Dark blond highlights (shade 6) with copper or gold reflects (.4 or .3) look great on brunettes with a warm skin tone.  

For a cool complexion, toner is your best friend for neutralizing and cooling those warm tones. For example, try Blond Studio 8 Bonder Inside with 20 vol for just 15 minutes to reach a level 5 or 6 using a three-point balayage application technique. Then, gloss with Dia light to give the hair a cool shimmer (.1 or .2) to complement the skin. 

Balayage hair color for brunettes is growing in popularity

If your client has asked for a balayage for brunette hair, i.e. she wants to stay or become brunette, not blond, you still have a wide range of color options. This season, cool ash shades (from 4.1 to 5.2) remain the most on-trend brunette colors. Ash balayage is also popular because it allows the client to subtly transition between blond and brunette, and is a cross-seasonal shade. 

But don’t forget the timelessness of warm mahogany highlights, especially on very dark brunettes (between 2.2 and 3.3). Blond Studio 9 is perfect for lifting even the darkest bases. The closer your highlights are to the natural hair color, the less subtle you need to be with your balayage application technique, just don’t forget the money pieces around the face. 

If, however, you’re adding blond highlights to a very dark base in order to lift the ensemble up to a brighter brunette, opt for the three-point application technique avoid a stark contrast — that’s not the goal of a balayage for brunettes’ hair. 

How face shape affects a balayage

The aim of a balayage is to create the impression of light around the face in the most flattering places. So, on a long or narrow face, focus your balayage for brunette hair around the sides so that the highlights fall around the cheekbones. For square and round-shaped faces, however, apply your highlights towards the top and jawline to slim and balance the dimensions. 

Long balayage styles for brunettes

If you’re asked how to make brunette hair lighter on long hair, explain that a chic  French balayage technique can subtly lift the overall color. For a more obvious color effect, the balayage technique can also be used to create a beautiful ombre effect on long hair where the color transitions from brunette to blond along the lengths.

Balayage for short hair brunettes

Contrary to preconceptions, balayage on short hair for brunettes is achievable. To prevent a stark contrast between the lightened sections and the base color, use a multi-point balayage technique to create babylights from the root, paying extra attention to only saturate at the ends.