Getting balayage on mixed race hair requires a little expertise and specific shades to get the best results. Learn all about getting balayage color with your natural hair texture, whether it’s big, soft ringlets or kinky coils and curls.
You’ll see gorgeous examples, learn helpful tips to balayage natural hair, and find out which shades will suit your base color best. It’s all here in our guide!
Getting Balayage on Mixed Race Hair
- Make your balayage as subtle or bold as you like
- Warm blonde, red, or brown shades flatter your natural color
- Balayage is the least-damaging method for natural hair textures
Balayage on mixed race hair has so many possibilities and options. Your winding, curly hair texture really makes the bright glow of hand-painted balayage color pop!
It’s impossible not to appreciate how a touch of light, gradient color highlights and accentuates the bends and curves in your lush mane. And there are so many ways to approach this look! You can opt for a subtly sun-kissed light brown balayage look that creates natural-looking, gradient highlights throughout your mane.
You might like classic all-over balayage with reddish or blonde strands for a more noticeable result, or a high-contrast blonde ribbon balayage for the biggest wow factor! It’s all about your desired result and how “loud” you want your balayage look to be.
But getting balayage on mixed race hair – which is usually type 3 (curly) or type 4 (coily) – means you need to study up a bit before you commit. Your hair type and balayage color/shade choice are the most important things to get familiar with ahead of time.
Once you’ve determined your hair type and settled on the perfect balayage shades to suit you, you’ll be ready to browse some color inspiration photos to start dreaming up your new look!
Read Next: How Much Does Balayage Cost at the Salon?
Determine Your Hair Type
“Mixed race hair” ranges widely in texture and type, so it’s hard to define outright. In general, you’ll probably have hair that is curly, fitting under one of the type 3 subtypes (3A, 3B, 3C), or coily, fitting under one of the type 4 subtypes (4A, 4B, 4C).
Your hair type matters before getting balayage on mixed race hair because it determines how long your hair will take to lift and how much the stylist will need to stretch it to evenly apply the bleach. The coarser your hair type is, the longer it will take to lift to your desired level.
Coarse hair is thicker in diameter and bleach/dye doesn’t easily penetrate it. If you have medium-coarse hair (like 3C, 4A, and some 4B types), you may take a little longer to lift than fine or medium strands – about 20 minutes.
If you have coarse hair (4B or 4C), expect your strands to take up to 30 minutes to process when you get balayage. Knowing this ahead of time will put you ahead of the game!
Tip: Skip the reading and take our Hair Type Quiz to find out your hair type with just a few questions!
3A Hair Type
- Soft, big ringlets with fine-medium texture
- Curls with wine cork circumference
- Tons of body, some frizz
3B Hair Type
- Smaller, defined curls with medium texture
- Curls with Sharpie marker circumference
- Bouncy, somewhat frizzy curls
3C Hair Type
- Tight corkscrew curls with medium-coarse texture
- Curls with pencil circumference
- Springy, tight, and frizzy curls
- May take longer to lift due to coarser texture
4A Hair Type
- Tighter corkscrew coils with medium-coarse texture
- Coils with defined S- or O-shape
- Lots of definition with dryness and frizz
- May take longer to lift due to coarser texture
4B Hair Type
- Zigzag-shaped coils with medium-coarse texture
- Tighter but less definition than 4A coils
- Kinky coils with dryness and frizz
- May take longer to lift due to coarser texture
4C Hair Type
- Ultra kinky z-shaped coils with coarse texture
- Little definition with angular coil shape
- Very textured and dry with significant shrinkage
- Takes longest to lift due to coarse texture
Once you know what your hair type is, it’s a lot easier to get the results you want for balayage on mixed race hair. It’s a lot different to work with type 3A hair, which is fine to medium in texture with big, loose ringlets, than it is to work with kinky 4C coily hair, which is coarser in texture (read: harder to lift) and more fragile.
Everything from the way your stylist will apply the bleach to the developer volume they’ll use hinges on your hair type. It’s so helpful to show up at the salon knowing exactly what your hair does – and doesn’t – need!
Read Next: 20 Cute Hairstyles for Curly, Mixed Race Hair
Determine Your Perfect Balayage Shade
Your skin color and undertones can also range widely as a mixed woman. Since your balayage color and shade needs to work with, not against, your skin color and undertones, it’s important to know where you lie on the spectrum.
You might have a very fair skin tone, a medium skin tone, or a deep, rich skin tone. Here’s how you can identify where you are on the skin tone spectrum.
- Fair/light: You burn easily and struggle to tan. Your eye color is likely lighter and you may freckle significantly after sun exposure.
- Medium: You tan easily but sometimes burn. Your eye color may be a little deeper and your skin has a year-round lightly bronzed or tan color.
- Deep: You tan easily and rarely burn. Your eye color is deeper and your skin has a year-round deeply bronzed, brown tone.
The color temperature (warm, cool, or neutral) of your undertones is also important to identify the perfect balayage color and shade for you. Here’s how you can determine the warmth or coolness of your undertones.
- Warm: You look better in yellow gold than silver. Your eye color is brown, green, or hazel. You look better in cream than pure white.
- Cool: You look better in silver than yellow gold. Your eye color is blue, pale brown, or gray. You look better in pure white than cream.
- Neutral: You look great in all jewelry tones. Your eye color can vary, but may feature a mix of warm and cool colors, like blue or green with golden flecks.
With these things in mind, you can pinpoint the colors and shades you should use in your balayage easily. Note that neutral undertones can choose colors from both the warm and cool spectrums, so you can choose any options below that match your skin tone!
- Fair/light with warm undertone: Warm honey, golden, or strawberry blonde; light golden or light chestnut brown; light auburn, light copper, or copper blonde
- Fair/light with cool undertone: Cool platinum or ash blonde; light to medium ash or medium mushroom brown; rich true red or raspberry red
- Medium with warm undertone: Warm honey, medium to dark golden, caramel, or butterscotch blonde; light to medium chestnut or golden brown; light to medium auburn or copper
- Medium with cool undertone: Cool platinum or light to dark ash blonde, light to medium ash or mushroom brown; medium mahogany or burgundy reds
- Deep with warm undertone: Deep honey, dark golden, caramel, or butterscotch blonde; rich chocolate, golden, chestnut, or espresso brown; dark auburn, maroon, or dark copper red
- Deep with cool undertone: Medium to dark ash or silver blonde; medium ash, mushroom, or mocha brown; rich true red, medium mahogany, or deep burgundy red
10 Examples of Balayage on Mixed Race Hair
Now that you’ve got a sense of the colors and shades that are perfectly suited for you, it’s time for a little inspiration!
Take a look at some of our favorite examples of balayage on mixed race hair textures. You’ll see warm and cool-toned examples on a range of curly hair types. Which ones are you screenshotting to show your stylist?
1. 3B Copper All-Over Balayage
Using balayage to bring a new color in all-over is one of our favorite looks on darker hair! You get the low maintenance benefit of off-root color with the brightening benefits of highlights or all-over, light color. Copper is a gorgeous shade for warm undertones and looks great with bouncy 3B curls.
2. Relaxed Curls With Caramel Chestnut Balayage
We don’t recommend bleaching relaxed hair, but if it’s been a while since your last process, you can definitely make it work! Rich, reddish chestnut brown in a medium shade is a great transition color to bring in a brighter caramel blonde tone with balayage.
3. 4A Golden Brown Gradient Balayage
Tight 4A coils are the perfect foundation for a gradient, seamless balayage color. With a rich, light golden brown brightening the midshaft to ends like a naturally sun-kissed color, this is a subtle look that won’t overwhelm your strands with too much brightness.
4. 3C Butterscotch Caramel Ribbon Balayage
A medium skin tone with a warm undertone looks amazing with a rich butterscotch caramel blonde balayage. This balayage technique weaves thicker ribbons of color through the look for a little more concentrated pop of color.
5. 3C Dip-Dyed Blonde Balayage
The tips of these 3C curls are dyed blonde for a high-contrast, standout balayage look. This look wouldn’t work with straight or wavy hair, but with a labyrinth of curls, it’s absolutely perfect. Bleach is applied to the tips only and blended upward for a gradual color transition.
6. Relaxed Curls With Light Golden Brown Balayage
Relaxed hair should be 100% healthy before you even think about processing it again, but if everything checks out, this light golden brown color is a beautiful option to consider. It creates enough contrast with the darker root and base color to stand out without looking too stark or out of place.
7. 4B Medium Chocolate Brown Balayage
Proof that balayage color doesn’t have to be blonde or super light to look great! This medium chocolate brown tone is light enough to contrast a bit with the richer root tone but still takes on a subtle look overall. It’s natural and oh-so-flattering for warm undertones.
8. 4A Platinum and Copper Blonde Balayage
This mix of warm (copper) and cool (platinum) shades is absolutely perfect for neutral undertones! It can also work for warm undertones since the primary color is that rich, vibrant coppery blonde. Strategically placed platinum ribbons liven up the color and add a shimmering brightness that stands out.
9. 3A Copper Tip Balayage
Balayage is just the color technique, and you can use it so many ways to achieve different looks! Applying the light color just to the tips of the hair is a great option for big, loose curls like the 3A type. You highlight and accentuate the swirling shape of the curls for a gorgeous, flattering result.
10. 4A Golden Caramel Balayage
It’s hard to pinpoint this hair type since it’s been heat-styled with tiny spiral curls, but this pretty golden caramel balayage look would work with any curl type. The warm undertones in the golden caramel shade mirror the gold and peachy undertones in the skin for a cohesive, flattering effect.
Color Tips and Things to Consider
Want to make the most of balayage on mixed race hair? Then you need these tips and pointers! Here’s how you can keep your hair healthy after processing, preserve and lock in your new color, and achieve the best results with your balayage.
- Make sure you’re using the right developer. Your stylist ideally knows how to bleach and color naturally textured hair, but it’s a good idea to make sure they’re using a low volume developer. Since type 4 hair is fragile and susceptible to damage, higher-volume developers (like 40-vol) are a no-no if you want to keep your strands healthy. Opt for a weaker 30-volume developer and a “low and slow” approach instead.
- Don’t use hair products before your appointment. Leave-in conditioners, heavy styling products, and oils will all prevent the bleach and color from penetrating your hair properly. As a result, you won’t get the desired level of lift. Wash and condition your hair before your appointment, but avoid adding any moisturizing or styling products to get the best lift and results.
- Treat your hair like royalty afterward. After a chemical process, your hair needs plenty of rich moisture and nutrients to rebuild and repair any damage sustained. Try a nourishing hair mask for damaged hair (the link contains a few store-bought options and a recipe to DIY) and supply extra protein to rebuild any broken keratin bonds. You don’t want to introduce more protein if your hair doesn’t need it, so take this quiz first to find out: Does My Hair Need Protein? Quiz | It’s Only 5 Questions!
- Help your balayage last longer. Switching to a sulfate-free shampoo for colored hair is a simple way to preserve color. Washing less often helps, too. Aim to shampoo once a week or even less, conditioning your curls in between washes to keep things supple and soft. Purple shampoo once a week or so can keep blonde balayage from turning brassy. Avoid spending tons of time in the sun without a hat or scarf to protect your strands from UV rays. All these things will help your balayage last longer and resist fading!
- Try some balayage-accentuating hairstyles. After you get your color done, you’ll definitely want to show it off! While wearing it down and loose is the best way, you’ll want some pretty options for in between wash days. Wearing your hair up with a high ponytail, doing protective braids, and trying half-up clipped looks are all cute ways to show off your balayage when you don’t want to wear it down. Here are some of our favorite styles to try: 20 Mixed Race Cute Hairstyles for Curly Hair for 2022.
Getting balayage on mixed race hair does present a couple challenges. If your hair is medium-coarse or coarse, it will take a little longer to lift to your desired level of blonde, red, or brown (up to 30 minutes).
When you use a lower volume developer to avoid damaging your fragile strands, that can result in you needing 2 sessions to lift your hair to a bright blonde tone. If you’re going for a medium/dark blonde or brown/red tone instead, you should be able to get it done in one visit.
But these challenges are miniscule in the scheme of things. Going to a skilled stylist who works with curly and coily hair will ensure they’ll know exactly how to get you glowing! Your swirling curls and coils will be accentuated with the natural-looking brightness balayage color brings to your strands.
And you’re going to love the low maintenance, easy-to-care-for nature of balayage! You won’t go back to basic highlights or all-over color once you see how flattering and luxe good balayage color can be.