We’ve already rounded up our favorite blonde balayage looks for summer (and beyond) then we moved on to a slightly different color technique and put together a list of our favorite brown ombré looks. What’s the difference between balayage and ombré, you ask? Ombré hair starts off dark and transitions to a lighter shade at the ends. Balayage, on the other hand, is characterized by intermittent highlights dispersed throughout the hair, almost like subtle strokes of paint.
As stylist Janna Velasquez of Bomane Salon in Beverly Hills once put it, “Balayage is a freehand painting technique, usually focusing on the top layer of hair, resulting in a more natural and dimensional approach to highlighting.” Basically, they may look somewhat similar, but not the same.
CHOOSING A SHADE: It’s a good idea to keep your base shade close to your natural color and to not go too light with highlights for less up-keep.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL: Low. Since the base shade is usually in the brunette or dark blonde family, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about grow-out.
GOES GREAT WITH: All complexions and undertones. This look can easily be customized to work for anyone.
SIMILAR SHADES: Ombré, tiger’s eye
PRICE: Depends on how many highlights required to get the desired look.
Creamy Blonde Highlights
Nikki Lee is an expert colorist in Los Angeles and co-owner of Nine Zero One Salon. Just take a simple scroll through her Instagram to see some ultimate balayage inspiration, like the image above.
Ask your colorist for creamy blonde highlights that gradually go up to your dark brown roots. This intermingling will give a dimensional and summery effect.
Dark Brown Base
Lee is also responsible for this balayage look, which uses a base of dark brown hair to make caramel blonde highlights pop. The color is vivid, saturated, and eye-catching.
We can’t decide what we love more, Janibell Rosanne’s jaw-droppingly beautiful, kinky curls or her gorgeous blonde-to-brown color meld. Yep, we’re going to have to go with both.
This balayage look, also by Lee, is equal parts brown and blonde (let’s call it bronde then, yes?). The highlights are perfectly placed in a natural-looking and sun-kissed pattern.
Here’s the deepest brown shade we’ve seen yet. Lee kept the roots dark brown (so brown that they almost look black) before expertly painting subtle highlights down through the mid-lengths and ends. If you’re not big on a lot of contrast or bold highlights, then this soft look is for you.
Bronzed and Bouncy
Raven from Helllo Sunshine shows us how bronzed balayage (and bouncy, natural texture) is done. There’s not much to say about this look other than the fact that her hair looks fresh, modern, and healthy. We don’t know about you, but we want our hair to inspire those very same adjectives.
Light Brown Balayage
Anyone who has naturally light brown hair (or wants light brown hair, for that matter), take note. This is the ultimate sun-kissed balayage look. It’s another look that’s all thanks to Lee, who interspersed golden blonde highlights throughout her client’s loose waves.
Highlights and Lowlights
If you want a bolder color contrast between the lowlights and highlights in your hair, take heed of this look. A base of dark brown accentuates the golden blonde streaks.
Shades of Brunette
We also love this brown balayage style, sported by former Byrdie assistant editor Maya. Her rich brown hair is accented with super-subtle auburn highlights. We’re obsessed.
Johnny Ramirez is an expert colorist based in Los Angeles. He’s also the co-founder of the ever-buzzy Ramirez Tran Salon. Though his Instagram is filled to the brim with amazing hair color inspo, we took a special liking to this rich brown balayage. It’s so glossy and golden, it almost appears to emit its own light.
Matt Rez is an expert colorist at Mèche in Los Angeles. His is another Instagram feed we classify as a “must-follow.” He excels at creating gorgeous balayage hair color, and while there were many images we could have included, we chose this one since it demonstrates one of the best things about balayage hair—its effortlessness. This photo was taken after four months of grow-out, yet the color still looks perfectly blended. That’s just another reason we love balayage hair so much. It’s incredibly low maintenance.