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Reverse Balayage: The Complete Color Guide Plus 15 Looks To Try In 2018

photo of woman with sleek blonde balayage hair
For the last few years, balayage has dominated the hair world. Your favorite celebrities, influencers, and even your best friends have hopped on the balayage train. Balayage not only looks good on almost everyone but also is a reasonably easy-care color technique.

However, it’s beginning to look like 2018 may mark the end of balayage as you know it. After years of coveting artfully highlighted hair, women are now opting to cover their previously processed locks with a technique called reverse balayage.


What is reverse balayage?

Like traditional balayage, reverse balayage uses the same hand-painted technique which creates natural-looking highlights. Instead of painting your strands with blonde or ashy brown, stylists are using dark colors near the roots and throughout your strands to bring depth to your look.

If you were a natural brunette or dark blonde before your traditional balayage, reverse balayage has the added benefit of being even easier to maintain than conventional balayage. Because the colors used are typically closer to your natural shade, it’ll be even less noticeable when your hair grows out. That means you might head back to the salon for a haircut before you need a root touch-up.

Reverse balayage is perfect for anyone who loves the look of balayage but is no longer interested in maintaining their bottle blonde ‘do. Reverse balayage can not only reduce the amount of time spent maintaining your hair color, but also help ensure your hair’s health. If you’re a natural brunette who’s spent years lightening your locks, your hair will appreciate the much-needed break from bleach.


How do you care for reverse balayage?

If you think you won’t have to switch up your hair care routine just because you had balayage before, think again. Unlike your previous balayage—in which your colorist most likely used bleach to achieve lightened strands— your newly darkened strands have different needs. Lucky for you, caring for dark shades is typically much more low maintenance than caring for blonde hues.

First, swap out your regular shampoo and conditioner for a system formulated to care for your new color. We recommend Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner. The system is formulated with Redken’s exclusive RCT Protein Complex, which treats hair from the root to the core to the tip and gives colored strands the custom nourishment they need.

Color services can still make your strands look and feel dry even if your colorist doesn’t use bleach to create your new hue. We suggest giving your strands a little extra TLC by incorporating a weekly deep conditioning mask into your hair care routine. Try Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics Mega Mask, a dual chamber mega hair mask that's intended to provide deep, intense conditioning, and act as a care extender to provide ultimate vibrancy that lasts up to three washes.

Plan to head to the salon for touchups every six to eight weeks if your natural hair color is nowhere near your reverse balayage shade or if you want to make sure your color looks its best at all times. If you’re not sure which timeline is appropriate for you and your hair, your stylist will be able to suggest the best schedule for a follow-up appointment.

Interested in reverse balayage, but not sure if going dark is the right move for you? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite reserve balayage looks to give you some major inspiration.

Auburn to Golden

You don’t have to be a brunette to slay reverse balayage. The technique looks just as amazing on ladies with auburn colored locks.

Grey to Platinum

Subtle grey is the perfect way to tone down yellowing platinum roots for a fresh new look.

Rooty Vanilla

Are you a natural blonde or brunette? No one will ever be able to guess with this perfectly blended reverse balayage.

Brunette to Golden

This perfect mix of brown and gold looks fantastic no matter the season.


Reverse balayage creates depth at the roots, allowing you to hold on to some of your golden highlights.

Brunette to Crimson

Reverse balayage can bring depth to even the most bright and vibrant colors.

Brunette to Rose Gold

If you’re searching for the trendiest style of the season, look no further than reverse balayage on millennial pink.

Black to Platinum

Platinum is one of the most high maintenance colors you can dye your hair. Reverse balayage gives the colors some much-needed depth and also makes the color much more straightforward to maintain.

Black to Caramel

Reverse balayage can bring dull, lifeless color back to life.

Black to Ice Blonde

Reverse balayage will allow you to slay the salt and pepper look better than your father ever could.

Brunette to Sand

The best reverse balayage looks natural enough that your locks look deep, rich, and just slightly sunkissed.

Chocolate Brown

Chocolate brown hair is the perfect way to take advantage of a low maintenance brunette shade without getting rid of the warmth you’ve come to know and love from blonde hues.

Smoky Gray

If you’re looking to go dark but want a shade that’s a bit edgier than your typical black or brunette, opt for a smoky gray.

Black to Purple

Reverse balayage is the perfect way to try out the fantasy shade you’ve been dreaming about, without committing to the constant upkeep of touching up your roots.


Wine isn’t just for girls' night! It also looks stunning on your strands.

Looking to make an appointment to get reverse balayage? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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