When you spot someone with two-toned hair that doesn't look like an ombré or your foil highlights, chances are, they had a balayage. This coloring technique is a combination of those two styles, and it's very popular for achieving a natural-looking blend. If you're considering trying it out, you've come to the right place. Keep scrolling for our ultimate balayage guide!

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What is a balayage hair color?

Balayage is a freehand highlighting technique that doesn't use foil. The term is derived from the French word for "sweeping," which reflects the method's hand-painted effect that creates a more blended look on the hair.

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To do a balayage, stylists would manually apply bleach to lighten specific areas of the hair. This would usually be the face-framing sections, the mid-section, and the ends. In general, a balayage hair color relies on a vertical placement for a more natural finish, making it different from an ombré that has a horizontal placement.

Why are balayage hair colors so popular?

Balayage hair colors are well-loved for a variety of reasons. First, because the colors are hand-painted by a stylist, the end result looks more natural and gives the hair a sunkissed effect. It's perfect for people who want to veer away from the high-contrast look (a.k.a. harsh lines) that foil highlights tend to have!

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Another perk to a balayage color is the maintenance, or lack thereof. Thanks to the freehand application, you won't need frequent touch-ups with the balayage because the colors are meant to fade subtly. Re-growth is also less visible with this color since stylists usually leave the roots of the hair bleach-free, allowing your natural hair color to blend seamlessly with the lightened areas.

Perhaps the only "downside" to the balayage is that it can cost a bit more than your average coloring session. That said, as a highly specialized technique, that's already expected. The benefits of the color are definitely worth the investment, though!

Interested? Screenshot the balayage hair color ideas below for your next hair appointment!

1. Espresso brown balayage

If the concept of hair lightening intimidates you, a brown-based balayage can help you shake off those nerves for your first try. A warm, espresso hue blended into black or dark brown locks, for example, will always look gorgeous!

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2. Multi-dimensional brown balayage

For a multi-dimensional look, you can opt for skip the solid colors and have your balayage done in this gorgeous face-framing style. Here, the front sections are specifically lightened more than the rest of the hair to accentuate the client's features. If you love the effect, consult your colorist for the best way you can pull it off!

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3. Sunkissed balayage

This dye job is the "no-makeup" makeup of balayage hair colors. It achieves a dimensional, sunkissed look by lifting your natural shade to a near undetectable light brown. The way the lightened strands are blended add to the effect as well, so make sure to reach out to a pro for this one!

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4. Chestnut brown balayage

The vibrant, sun-loving shade of chestnut brown will give you standout locks without leaving the neutral spectrum. It's a great pick for morenas who want to highlight their golden-toned complexion and fair-skinned folk looking for a subtle pop.

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5. Ash blonde balayage

An ash blonde balayage is one of the most fuss-free ways to pull off blonde tresses. It'll give your hair a fresh, beachy look, and because it won't require you to bleach your locks all the way, it can easily suit a wide variety of skin tones. What's not to love? (Head to these influencer-approved salons to give it a try!)

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6. Light blonde balayage

If you already have voluminous curly hair, consider going partially blonde for your next makeover! It'll help add even more bounce and dimension to your locks, to the point where it'll hardly need extra styling.

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7. Ash gray balayage

The balayage technique can make any bold hair color appear more effortless—ash gray included! Not only that, the vertical application will guarantee a subtler fade and less visible re-growth.

8. Vanilla blonde balayage

If you don't want your blonde to be super icy, a balayage 'do with traces of light brown would be right up your alley. The warmth this brings to your locks will keep the color from washing you out, too.

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9. Purple blue ombré balayage

This stunning two-toned color fuses the perks of ombré and balayage for a unique feel. Notice how the blue is splashed onto the purple strands as an accent color? So cool!

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10. Copper red balayage

Balayage colors aren't just for blending one light color into dark tresses. You can maximize its benefits when combining two light colors as well! Just check out this gorgous copper dye job with light blonde streaks for proof!

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