12 Balayage Hair Colors to Inspire Your Next Trip to the Salon

Balayage Hair Colors to Inspire Your Next Trip to the Salon

Getty Images/ InStyle

So, you want natural-looking highlights that don’t require frequent salon visits for upkeep? That’s where you turn to balayage. 

Balayage, which has been touted as the easy go-to way to get that sun-kissed hair look, has been a popular highlighting technique for years because of its low maintenance and it’s one of the most customizable ways to give your hair some natural-looking dimension. Suitable for any haircut or hair type, these highlights give anyone that lived-in color that is super easy to grow out. 

Before you call your colorist to get it done, there are a few things to take note of — and obviously hair inspo photos from some our favorite celebs. Scroll down to learn everything you ever needed to know about balayage. 

What is balayage hair?

Balayage, which is also the French word for “sweeping,” is a technique used to highlight hair. As L’Oreal Paris’ celebrity hairstylist and colorist Jonathan Colombini explains, balayage involves the use of long sweeping strokes to apply highlights. It’s the broad stroke application, Colombini says, that makes it different from the traditional foiling and weaving technique with a chemical comb on selected pieces of hair we see in other forms of highlighting. 

Laura Gibson, Joico’s global artistic director of hair color, adds that balayage is used to create a versatile range of colors and shades. “[It’s] great for anyone who’s looking for more natural blends and low maintenance color,” Gibson says. “It’s great for any hair color or type because it can be customized.” 

What is the balayage hair coloring process like?

Gibson says you’ll first consult with your colorist (you’ll want to see someone who specializes in balayage for best results) to go over details like how you part your hair and how you normally style it so that they can customize your shade. Then, she says balayage is achieved by the painting color on the top of your head and it getting more saturated towards the ends. Colombini explains that the color’s saturation is applied more liberally towards the ends for a lighter effect. The colorist will either use plastic or cotton in between the lightened sections to keep color from bleeding and drying out. It will take longer to lighten hair than foil highlights, but once hair has been lightened to your desired level, it’s then shampooed and glossed. 

Both Colombini and Gibson say that prices for balayage can vary depending on where you get it done. Gibson says on average, you can expect to pay at least $300 or more for treatment. But consult with your colorist before booking that appointment. 

How to maintain balayage hair:

While you can technically do balayage at home (Colombini recommends the L’Oréal Paris Balayage At-Home Highlighting Kit which he says has a user-friendly application brush and a toning system to make it easy), it is a challenging application that should at least be done by a professional the first time around. Gibson says that it can have far more complications if not done properly. 

Your at-home routine should focus on the maintenance of your new balayage color. Gibson says that touch-ups will depend on the shade you get, but a good rule of thumb is that lighter colors will need more attention. She recommends using the Joico Defy Damage Shampoo and Conditioner in between appointments to keep hair healthy and to keep color looking fresh. Colombini says something like L’Oréal Paris EverPure Collection helps with any hair coloring service and is free of sulfates and parabens. 

Celebrities with balayage hair:

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Blonde balayage hair

balayage hair


Ciara’s balayage incorporates a natural-looking mix of dirty and bright blonde to elevate her layered bob. Add subtle waves throughout to dress it up for a night out. 

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Dirty blonde balayage hair

balayage hair

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Dirty blonde and golden highlights are an unbeatable pair when it comes to balayage. Jessica Biel wore this combo for that subtle sun-kissed glow for her long layers.

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Golden balayage hair

balayage hair

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

This balayage look is one of the more natural two-toned looks out there. Halle Berry’s golden highlights provided a nice contrast against her darker roots, but blended in seamlessly throughout.

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Brunette balayage hair

balayage hair

Instagram @chrisappleton1

One of the easiest ways to elevate long layers is to add some balayage. Jennifer Lopez’s golden highlights instantly brightened her brunette strands. 

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Honey balayage hair

balayage hair

Jenny Anderson/WireImage

Another example of two-tone hair, Sarah Jessica Parker balanced her brunette base with honey highlights placed throughout. There’s contrast that looks a little more lived-in and natural-looking.

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Light Brown Balayage

balayage hair

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Jessica Alba’s light brown balayage started at mid-length and flowed effortlessly towards the ends. This gave her brunette shade a natural-looking ombré effect. 

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Bright blonde balayage hair

balayage hair

Instagram @rosiehw

Opt for face-framing balayage like Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Here, her dirty blonde shade is mixed with bright blonde highlights in her front layers that really opened up her face. 

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Beachy balayage hair

balayage hair

Instagram @gigihadid

Gigi Hadid channeled her inner beachy spirit animal for the ultimate blonde look. A mix of honey and golden blonde highlights make for subtle dimension that just looks stunning.

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Dark balayage hair

balayage hair

 Steve Granitz/WireImage

Who says balayage always needs to incorporate some shade of blonde? If you’ve got darker hair, you can easily lighten up the ends with something like this bright copper shade seen on Selena Gomez. This color combo really brightened up her blunt bob for something more dynamic. 

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Bright balayage hair

dirty blonde hair kourtney kardashian balayage hair

Instagram @khloekardashian

Khloe Kardashian’s bright blonde balayage added dimension to her dirty blonde shade. Add this with long layers for a real beachy effortless vibe. 

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Copper balayage hair

balayage hair

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Rihanna’s copper balayage gave her that natural-looking lived-in color. Placed throughout her long brunette hair, this all-over balayage look is a great option to give your hair some depth. 

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Subtle balayage hair

balayage hair

Kevin Mazur/MG21/Getty Images

Hailey Bieber wore her golden blonde balayage subtle towards the ends to brighten up her dirty blonde shade. Mixed in with slightly layered waves, it’s the perfect “I-just-got-back-from-a-tropical-vacation” hair look. 

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