14 Balayage Ideas for Every Hair Color | Hair.com

Color Techniques

The Ultimate Guide to Balayage: 14 Highlights For Every Hair Color

28 August 2017
Guide to Balayage
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Perfect hair isn’t easy to achieve. After weeks of poring over photos, you may come across the perfect chocolate base shade, only to find that it reads a little flat once it’s on your head. Likewise, a bright blonde may overwhelm your complexion. What’s a well-coiffed woman to do?

The answer, my friends, is balayage. The French-inspired highlighting technique is the trendiest thing in hair studios right now because it’s so universally flattering. If you’ve thought about adding more depth to your ‘do, stay tuned. There’s an ideal highlight shade for everyone.

What is balayage?

Balayage is a hair technique in which highlights are painted on by hand. Instead of being applied in a uniform pattern, these strands blend into the base hair color much more organically. In place of stripes or chunks, balayage results in color that looks like the sun just happened to bleach pieces of your hair in the most flattering way possible.

I/f you’re thinking about getting highlights, read on to learn more about your options. Balayage is perfect for the girl who wants to look like she was born with radiant, multifaceted color.

True Blonde

If you’re in the market for highlights and are anything like us, your gut reaction is probably to go blonde. This sunny color will brighten up your hair, bringing an element of Cali girl to any hair color.

Best for: All hair colors.

Caramel

Blonde is an excellent choice for a highlight, but we’re partial to the buttery tones caramel adds to any hairstyle. Because the color is so warm, it adds subtle depth to one note hair colors. It also does wonders for your complexion—trust us.

Best for: All hair colors, particularly warm tones.

Strawberry Blonde

Strawberry blonde is a bit unconventional as a highlight color, but we love the summery lightness it brings to the hair. If you’re working with blonde or medium brown hair, consider adding orange-blonde notes to your look.

Best for: Blondes and brunettes.

Honey Blonde

Like caramel, honey blonde is one of those colors that can do no wrong. No matter your base color, honey adds shimmery texture and depth. We particularly love it on women with wavy or curly manes.

Best for: All hair colors.

Auburn

The only think lovelier than rich brown hair is the kind that has a hint of red to it. If you’re looking for brown hair that has a bit of reflective red, ask your stylist for auburn highlights. They’ll emphasize any texture you may have while making your skin glow.

Best for: Dark brown hair.

Copper

Are you seeking a highlight color that’s more dramatic than auburn? Copper is the best choice for you. The cheery orange-red is stunning against black, brown, red, and blonde hair, brightening the ends in a truly summery way. Paired with a few honey or caramel highlights, copper is a game changer.

Best for: All hair colors.

Silver

Silver is truly a standout among highlight shades, adding icy brilliance to any hair color. We particularly love it on dark gray, black, and cool blonde, especially because it’s always unexpected. The brighter the silver, the better the ‘do.

Best for: All hair colors.

Purple

There are many ways to wear purple balayage, and we’d be remiss to exclude cool lavender, neon violet, or deep plum. It all depends on the tone of your hair, something your stylist can help you understand. The most flattering shades will be somewhere between pastel and very dark.

Best for: Blondes and brunettes.

Rainbow

Admittedly, rainbow highlights aren’t for everyone. If you’ve been looking to try a social media trend on your hair or get a little out of the box, balayage is the best way to do it. Rainbow streaks will add a splash of color to your hair without entirely taking over—and, of course, there’s less maintenance than there would be for an entire head of neon.

Best for: Anyone, but easiest on blonde hair.

Ash

Some ladies prefer a beige tinge to their lengths, as opposed to a shiny, warm finish. If that’s something you’re interested in, ash highlights will do it. We’ve seen at least a dozen different versions of ash balayage, and every single one is gorgeous. Plus, ash is a fantastic choice for spring and fall.

Best for: All hair colors.

Burgundy

Dark-haired ladies, get vampy. Brown and black hair are always appreciated, but we love to take the color to the next level with very subtle burgundy balayage. The purple-red shade is a particularly punchy breath of life in winter, when dry air can make hair dull and limp.

Best for: Dark brown and black hair.

Blue

You have two options here: extremely subtle balayage on dark hair or very vibrant balayage on light hair. Whatever you choose, blue is the new pink when it comes to hair (we’re calling this one).

For the best results, choose a shade of blue that compliments your base tone. On blonde hair, we like to see a very washed out a shade of cornflower. Brown hair, on the other hand, looks fantastic with a hint of navy or turquoise at the ends.

Best for: Very dark brown or very light blonde hair.

White

When summer rolls around, we love to see blondes exaggerate their color with white highlights. These are also an extremely sneaky way to make thin hair seem thicker, because the brilliant color next to darker shades emphasizes texture.

It’s important to note that white hair is more high maintenance than, say, caramel, so be sure you’re ready to take on the commitment before strapping on a salon gown.

Best for: Blonde and auburn hair.

Chocolate

If you have darker hair, you probably understand the feeling that only blondes can try out new hair colors. That’s patently not true, especially when it comes to black hair. We love the look of inky hair with chocolate (and caramel, if you’re feeling adventurous) highlights.

To make sure you get the best result, be sure your hair stylists understands how subtle or obvious you’d like your highlights to be.

Best for: Black hair.

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