Blonde balayage has officially earned evergreen trend status – we’re all agreed, it’s above reproach and will never go out of style. Get inspired to add hand-painted gradient blonde to your mane with these 20 blonde balayage color ideas!
We’re showing you some of the prettiest blonde balayage examples, before and after photos, and tips to keep your blonde bright and beautiful in this photo guide. Check it out and get inspired to finally try this trend!
What Is Blonde Balayage?
Balayage is a highlighting technique that involves natural-looking, hand-painted color that begins around the midshaft and gradually lightens toward the ends.
It achieves a sun-kissed effect with darker pieces left in between the highlighted strands to create dimension. When we talk about blonde balayage, we’re referring to a bleach and developer mix that is hand-painted (not foiled) onto the hair.
Thin sections are used to keep the color graduation natural. Skilled stylists will “flick” the color brush upward lightly around the midshaft to achieve a soft, blended gradient.
This subtle, graduated color creates the sun-lightened effect blonde balayage is known for. The result is a natural, dimensional result that is worlds away from basic blonde foil highlights.
Because the color doesn’t begin at the roots, blonde balayage enables you to achieve a lighter look without bleaching your entire head or getting root-to-tip highlights that make new growth terribly obvious.
Interesting fact: The term balayage actually comes from the French word balaye, which means “sweep.” When you consider that balayage creates a “sweeping,” natural color effect throughout the hair, the French root word makes a lot of sense.
15 Blonde Balayage Color Ideas to Inspire Your Next Look
Getting blonde balayage is a great way to lighten and liven up your look without undergoing a complete hair transformation. Not only does it look great on almost any length, it’s also a perfect option for all hair types and textures.
One of the best things about blonde balayage is how incredibly low-maintenance it is compared to fully bleached or foil-highlighted hair. Since balayage highlights begin a few inches away from the roots, you won’t need as many touch ups to keep the look fresh and appealing.
Now that you’re familiar with blonde balayage and what makes this trendy type of highlight unique, let’s look at some gorgeous examples to inspire your next color.
1. Chocolate Brown to Champagne Blonde Balayage
We’re big fans of a dark chocolate base with blonde balayage. The color adds so much dimension and depth to the look!
Here, you’ve got a stunningly done balayage with gradient color that really lightens up the ends. Tendrils of champagne blonde reach up into the midshaft and toward the roots for that natural look we love.
2. Warm Auburn to Strawberry Blonde Balayage
Natural reds and ladies with warm undertones, listen up – this is the look to try. A warm auburn base incorporates a little brown and red with golden undertones to blend perfectly into the strawberry blonde balayage color.
This look straddles the line between ombre color and balayage, but you can make it a little more natural by incorporating more thin strawberry blonde strands up toward the roots.
3. Subtle Dark Blonde to Wheat Blonde Balayage
Dark blonde looks a lot like light brown without the reddish undertones. This is a beautifully subtle blonde balayage example that really takes on a naturally sun-lightened look.
Thin tendrils of neutral wheat blonde weave up through the hair with perfect, natural placement to look like they’ve been kissed by the sun.
4. Deep Espresso With Caramel Blonde Balayage
Caramel blonde is such a unique warm color for balayage. It makes blonde possible for darker hair colors that don’t want the high contrast look of white-blonde against a deeper base.
With warm caramel highlights sweeping through the style in a sun-kissed pattern, the look is subtle yet instantly transforms your style.
5. Chunky Chocolate Brown to Honey Blonde Balayage
Balayage can take on so many different looks, depending on how heavy a hand your stylist uses to apply the color and how far the blonde is taken up toward the roots.
This chunky balayage blends a lot of warm, honey blonde color into the deeper chocolate brown base for plenty of lightness and dimension throughout. With big, glam curls to set it off, this look is perfection.
6. Golden Blonde Dimensional Balayage
With platinum and white blonde shades dominating hair color trends lately, it’s so refreshing to see a warm golden blonde with the balayage technique!
This flaxen blonde shade shimmers with copper and rose gold tones with the bright, warm gold undertones stealing the show. The color is faintly painted near the temple zone and becomes bolder near the midshaft through the ends.
7. Bold Contrast Blonde Balayage
If you’re not after a subtly sun-lightened look, you’ll appreciate this bolder take on the technique! Leaving more dark sections in between your blonde highlighted pieces creates a little extra depth and contrast in the style.
The balayage highlights start close to the roots (more touch ups required) and thicken up near the ends for an almost-ombre effect. This look is perfect for dark-haired ladies who don’t want to go full-on blonde.
8. Coffee Base With Warm Blonde Balayage Curls
Curls can really take balayage to a whole new level. With so much texture, curls add extra dimension, depth, and light reflections that set off the lighter-colored highlights.
This hand-painted color takes additional skill and time to perfectly apply to intensely curly strands like these, but the results are oh-so worth it.
9. Soft Waves on Ash Blonde Balayage
Ash blonde is one of the most popular blonde shades for balayage color. With its cool tones and metallic sheen, ash blonde is perfect to create dimensional, lightened color on an ash brown or light brown base. Add brushed-out waves to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for gorgeousness.
10. Espresso to Honey Blonde Balayage
Balayage makes it possible to pair two wildly contrasting colors together in a visually appealing way. Deep, espresso brown creates a nice shadow effect at the roots while adding dimensional dark tones in between the honey blonde balayage.
We like how this example begins closer to the roots for a lighter overall effect, but know that it may lead to more frequent touch ups to keep the same look.
11. Strawberry and Champagne Blonde Balayage
Golden blonde with hints of coppery red tones creates a strawberry blonde look on alternating pieces with a neutral wheat blonde mixed in for extra dimension.
We love a double-blended balayage look like this – you can bring two colors together without clashing or creating too much contrast.
12. Coily Caramel Blonde Subtle Balayage
Balayage doesn’t have to change your hair color overall. Subtle pops of color are a great way to achieve a more natural look, especially on highly textured hair where the color appears to pop out in random spaces. The brightest caramel tones are placed around the face for a sun-kissed lift.
13. Warm Brown to Yellow Blonde Money Piece Balayage
Warm skin tones and undertones can rock a yellow blonde balayage without it looking accidentally brassy. The money piece – lighter strands directly around the face – highlights make the limited highlights look a lot more widespread than they really are.
If you want a big impact with fewer highlights, consider a face-framing look like this.
14. Top-Heavy Chunky Blonde Balayage
An easy way to achieve an all-over blonde look without actually bleaching your mane is a top-heavy balayage like this. Thick, chunky pieces are highlighted in the top layer and less so in the layers underneath.
This is a higher-maintenance color with the balayage highlights reaching almost to the roots on top, but it’s much lower maintenance than a full bleach and tone.
15. Almost-Ombre Blonde Foiliage
Foiliage is balayage color done with foils instead of the traditional hand-painted technique. It creates slightly more regular, patterned highlights than balayage, but if you’re going for an overall lighter or ombre look, it can be a great option.
This almost-ombre look is much lighter at the ends, but still features the sweeping hints of color up toward the roots from the balayage technique.
5 Blonde Balayage Before and After Examples
It’s helpful to see real before and after photos to see just how big a difference a good balayage color can make. Here are some of our favorite before and after examples – behold the beautiful transformations!
1. Brassy Balayage to Gorgeous Gradient
The before here is a good example of what badly-done balayage looks like. With brassy, yellow-orange tones in the blonde, grown-out roots, and an uneven color gradient, it’s in definite need of a fix from a skilled stylist.
In the after, you can see how lifting the blonde to a lighter color and toning with blue-violet creates a sensual ash-to-platinum balayage to dye for.
2. Basic Black to Graduated Tri-Color Blonde Balayage
Black hair can feel a little heavy and lack dimension if done with a box dye, like we see in the before photo here. Graduated color leads the dark roots into a silvery, violet-toned brown and a light champagne blonde at the ends for a much-needed lift.
3. Mahogany Brown to Golden Honey Balayage
Reddish-brown mahogany is a beautiful color, but this look needed some lift to really take off. Golden honey balayage is the perfect solution.
Matching those warm, dimensional tones without the flat, one-color look in the before photo. Bright honey strands seem to shimmer against the warm mahogany base for a truly stunning transformation.
4. Chestnut Brown to Subtle Cool-Toned Blonde Balayage
Subtly can make a major difference when the color is applied strategically to the right sections and pieces. This natural-looking cool blonde balayage turns a warm chestnut brown base color into a sun-lightened, gradient look with luxe vibes.
We love seeing a beautiful balayage before and after on straight hair – no waves or curls to hide the color application and placement!
5. Warm Honey Blonde to Cool Champagne Balayage
Warm blonde tones don’t work for everyone – ladies with cool undertones and some with neutral undertones will find that yellow-based blondes just don’t flatter them.
We’re obsessed with the icy cool tones in the after photo here – what an awesome transformation! The champagne blonde color lightens to almost white at the ends with only the slightest hint of warmth for dimension.
Balayage Tips and Things to Consider
Blondes might have more fun, but balayage blondes are the life of the party! This is a versatile look that can be universally flattering when properly done. Before you get balayage color or highlights, we’ve got a few things for you to think over.
- Your stylist’s skill level matters. This isn’t the technique to leave to a fresh beauty school grad or your cousin who’s dyed her own hair a few times. You need a stylist with skill and experience to get a perfectly blended, natural-looking balayage – especially with blonde. Since the color is applied by hand without foils, it takes skill to apply it properly without creating obvious streaks or heavy-handed chunks a la 1998. A good stylist will easily apply the color with perfect placement, lift your hair to the level of blonde you want, and tone it to the shade you want while removing any brassiness.
- Maintenance is still a thing. Balayage is much lower maintenance than all-over bleach or root-to-tip foil highlights, but maintenance will still be required to keep it looking good. Expect to be in the salon every 3-6 months, depending on how long you’re willing to let your roots grow out between touch ups. You might need toner more often than that, but you can always use purple shampoo to keep your blonde bright and pure at home between visits.
- Blonde can suit anyone. If you’re thinking blonde won’t be possible for you or will clash with your skin tone, think again. There are so many different shades of blonde to choose from, from warm to cool and neutral shades. In general, if gold jewelry looks best on you, opt for warm or golden blondes (strawberry, honey, caramel, gold). If silver looks better on you, check out cool or silvery blondes (platinum, champagne, ash). Neutral – if both silver and gold look good on you – should try neutral blondes (wheat, taupe, beige, and sandy blondes).
- Check your hair’s condition before balayage. Balayage with blonde color involves bleaching sections of your hair, which can cause serious damage if your hair isn’t in a healthy, strong condition. If you’re seeing lots of breakage, split ends traveling upward, weak or gummy strands, or more frizz than usual, it might be wise to wait to get it done and start using these tips for fixing damaged hair. Likewise, if you’ve colored or bleached your hair within the last 2 months, wait a little longer before getting balayage to prevent unnecessary damage.
- Balayage placement determines the maintenance level. Where your balayage color is painted has everything to do with how much maintenance it’ll require. Go closer to the roots for a lighter overall color, but know that the tradeoff is more touch ups to keep the style fresh. Keep your highlights further away from your roots – at least 2-3 inches – for less maintenance, but a less blonde look overall.
Is the Blonde Balayage Look Right for You?
Blonde-toned balayage looks are one of our favorite styles for a reason. They’re super versatile, universally flattering with the right shade of blonde, and completely customizable depending on how blonde you want to go.
Whether you’re out for a natural, sun-lightened effect that looks casually chic or a bolder, high-contrast balayage that adds lots of dimension with darker color peeking through, we support your decision to try a blonde balayage 1000%.
This is one trend that will never go out of style because we all realize how universally flattering, low-maintenance, and transformative it is.
I mean, did you see those before and after photos? Make sure you’ve got a great stylist lined up, save your favorite inspiration photos to show them, and get ready to start having a lot more fun.