We’ve already rounded up our favorite blonde balayage looks for summer (and beyond). Then we moved on to a slightly different color technique when we put together a list of our favorite brown ombré looks. What’s the difference between balayage and ombré, you ask? To make a long story short, 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. Read more about the difference between the two techniques here.
What we’re concerned with today is the balayage technique. But not just any balayage. We’re focused on the best examples of balayage highlights for brown hair, whether light caramel or deep mahogany. Keep scrolling to see 15 absolutely stunning examples of this hair color that will make you want to call your colorist immediately.
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. We love how the creamy blonde highlights climb up her dark brown hair, intermingling for a dimensional and summery effect.
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-dropping bouncy 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.
Lee gave her client a fresh textured cut and a gloss, and we can’t stop staring. We like how the base color is a little bit richer and darker than others we’ve seen, yet just as summery.
Speaking of richer and darker, check out this mahogany brown color that Lee created for one of her clients. It’s so rich and glossy, it looks like actual melted chocolate. Yum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We also love this brown balayage style, sported by Byrdie’s very own 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.
Balayage suits almost every single hair texture. Whether you have fine, thick, curly, straight, or wavy hair, a few well-placed highlights are sure to do the trick. It never fails to make hair look healthy and naturally voluminous, as demonstrated here by one of Ramirez’s clients.
Just like how it suits every texture, balayage is a hair color technique that suits almost any hair length as well. For proof, look to this photo, which Ramirez recently posted on his Instagram. How perfect are those undulating highlights?
Matt Rez is an expert colorist at Mèche Salon in Los Angeles. His is another Instagram feed we classify as being 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.