How to balayage hair at home | The ultimate guide.

Balayage hair is on the up and up as a recent trend that keeps on growing. It’s no surprise as it’s a super low maintenance, high impact effect that lasts longer than most other colour treatments. Can you learn how to balayage hair at home? Here’s everything you need to know!

This style has become the new go-to hairstyle for many women. It’s easy to maintain, low maintenance and can be done at home with a little practice and know-how.

This is great news for those of us who love the look but don’t have time or money to visit our local salon every few weeks!

However, it can be tricky to know how to balayage if you haven’t had professional training – especially if you’re not sure what products are best for your specific hair type.

We’ve created this guide to help you learn everything there is to know, including which tools and products will give you the best results when trying out this trend yourself at home.

You’ll also discover some of our favourite styles from Instagram so that you can see exactly what’s possible (and maybe even copy them!). Let’s dive in…

What is balayage hair?

This is a popular hair colouring technique that has been around for years, but it seems to have really taken off in the past year or two.

Balayage is a technique, not a colour or a style.

The word “Balayage” comes from a French word meaning “to sweep”. And indeed, that’s how the colour is applied to your hair – hand painted in small triangular sweeps cascading downwards. There are darker strands left on the bottom to create an added dimension and a natural sun kissed look.

The beauty is in the blend of colours that glisten like natural highlights to make you and your hair look shinier, healthier and more lustrous.

It’s a hair trend look that looks gorgeous on short hair or long hair and suits any hair type – the multidimensional tones add depth and texture to thick or fine hair. It looks particularly good with blonde shades like dark blonde and brown balayage or caramel balayage. What’s not to like?

Check out the latest looks for ideas and inspiration.

balayage hair color ideas pinterest

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What’s the difference between balayage hair and ombre hair?

balayage and ombre comparison colors

Ombre hair is a style, and also a technique, one where the lower section of hair is lightened which gives a more horizontal, band effect. It looks less natural, but just as fabulous.

Because of the banding and the fact that the ends of your hair should be getting trimmed regularly, it’s more high maintenance and you’ll need to have it done again more often.

What’s the difference between balayage hair and highlights?

balayage and highlights comparison colors

Highlights aka foils are a process, (although Balayage can also use foils too). It produces a more patterned,  all-over lightness in your hair from root to tip.

It’s less natural looking and these days you’ll find many colourists will suggest transitioning towards balayage for a more up-to-date look. 

Balayage is also much less high maintenance than highlights so you’ll need fewer trips to the hairdressers to top it up. 

However, you do need to keep lightening already lightened hair with balayage, whereas highlights focus on new growth. So despite the extra processing with highlights, they’re pretty even stevens in terms of damaging your hair.

What hair colours are best for balayage? 


Because it’s a technique, not a colour, in theory you can have a blend of any complementary colours you like!

But it’s most suited and effective with colours that look great with natural highlights, especially browns, reds and blondes – so think ash browns, light natural brown, auburns and chocolates mixed with caramel and light blondes.

In Light Brown Hair Shades you need in your life right now, you’ll find all the colours that work fantastically with this style, and can learn more about if they’ll suit you.

Will balayage hair suit me?

The hair colours used are extremely versatile. So whether you have cooler or warmer tones, or a light or dark base colour, there should be a blend there for you.

If you’re unsure what tones you have, you can take our quiz! Which will point you in the right direction of the hair colours that are right for you. 

Just answer a few quick questions on topics like your skin tone, eye colour and natural hair colour and all will be revealed! Just click on the image below!

which hair colour suits me

Is balayage damaging for my hair?

The way the style is created and the technique it uses means you’re less likely to end up with brassy, over processed tresses.

Many colourists say that the hand-painting treatment is less damaging than the usual colouring techniques that use foils and heat to set colour. But really, you’re re-lightening already lightened hair which is never good for your poor old locks.

To help strengthen and prepare your hair before, during and afterwards, use a good deep conditioner that will replenish your hair bonds and restore some moisture and elasticity to your hair. 

Can I balayage my hair at home?

Yes, you sure can. But disclaimer: you may not get the same effect as a trained professional. 

We always advocate talking to a colourist about your own hair as the success of at-home products depend on many factors that are specific to your and your hair.

But if you’re feeling confident, getting the look at home is absolutely achievable once you know how!

We recommend buying a kit that’s specifically for this technique, and following the instructions to the letter! You can check out most recommended ones in Best balayage kits for hair dyeing at home. This one came out top.

L’Oréal Preference Balayage

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What do I need to get the balayage look for my hair?

  • A good paddle hair brush.
  • An at-home balayage kit
  • A hair dye kit with brushes and bowl.
  • An old towel to protect your clothes and surfaces.
  • Barrier cream to apply to your ears and hairline to stop the dye getting on your skin.
  • A pin tail comb and sectioning hair clips to hold back sections of your hair to apply the lotion more precisely.
  • And your hair dye kit of choice! You can read more about each of these in our Best balayage kits reviews.

Best at home balayage kits at a glance.

KitLooks likeBest forRatingBuy now
Garnier Nutrisse Hair Highlights Kit Multi-Lightsq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0045X82LM&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage kits garnier nutrisseLighter shades. You’ll have to ignore the instructions which are for highlighting your hair. four star icon Edited
L'Oréal Preference Balayageq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00PL7Q1VE&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage kits l'oreal preferenceBronde colour. More golden hues. five star icon Edited 1
L'Oréal Colorista Effect Ombre Hairq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00PL7Q1VE&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage hair kitEasy use and great results.This is our pick of the bunch. five star icon Edited 1
Jerome Russell Bblonde Maximum Highlighting Kit.q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00DCPFX1Q&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage kits BblondeCool tones. No hint of brassiness. three star icon Edited 1
Schwarzkopf Live Intense Lightenerq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00D870FMK&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage kits schwartzkopfWarmer tones. If you’re after warmer colours, this is for you four star icon Edited
Schwarzkopf Professional BlondMe Premium Brightener.q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B06X6K4X19&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbest at home balayage kits schwartzkopfGoing a few shades lighter than your base. This is powerful stuff. four star icon Edited

How to balayage hair at home.

The technique is a super easy 6-step process!

STEP 1: Section your hair.

Divide your hair into sections using the ‘hot-cross bun’ technique. This means parting your hair down the middle and then width-ways to section your hair into quarters. 

STEP 2: Paint the tips of your hair.

Let’s balayage! The easy way to do this and produce a natural looking effect is to paint very tips of your hair brush and run the brush downwards through the mid to end lengths of your hair.

STEP 3: Stagger the strokes.

Make sure you stagger where you start brushing downwards to avoid the dip dye/ombre effect. If you want lighter ends, you can freestyle with the paintbrush to apply it where it’s needed. If you feel there’s too much product anywhere, just wipe it off.

STEP 4: Leave it to develop.

Once all of your sections have been brushed with the dye, leave your hair to develop as instructed on the hair dye box. This should be around 30 mins. Keep an eye on it to avoid going too light. You want the effect to be natural.  

STEP 5: Rinse and condition.

Wash it out and condition your hair with a really good nourishing conditioner

STEP 6: Dry and style!

Dry your hair with a hair dryer and fall in love with your new do. If you find the colour too bright or brassy, you can use a purple shampoo or toner to dull it down. 

How to balayage hair at home instagram

Watch and learn: How the professionals do it.

If you want to know how to get it absolutely right, it’s useful to watch the pros in action, step by step.

YouTube player

How can I care for my balayage hair?

Once you achieve the look you love, you’ll need to maintain it just like any other hair colour. You can check out How to look after coloured hair and keep it luscious for longer for top tips.

The good news is that this is a high on gorgeous, low on maintenance look. It wears the growing-out roots look really well, especially if you’re a brunette naturally and go for on-trend browns and deep red tones for your balayage effect. 

The secret is to make sure you look after your colour with products that are made specifically for coloured hair. They’ll contain ingredients that are not so harsh on your hair which will help your colour last longer and restore it’s natural lusciousness. 

If your hair is showing signs of red or orange brassiness, you can keep it cool in between colours with a good blue shampoo for brown hair. These are toning shampoos that eliminate unwanted brassiness.

Use an at-home keratin treatment.

A keratin treatment repairs the hair bonds that are destroyed by colouring and heat.

Also known as Brazilian hair treatments, they’re a semi-permanent, hair-smoothing, curl-softening professional chemical treatment that make hair straighter, shinier and look healthier. 

We’d recommend including a keratin treatment in your hair care plan to lock in the colour and restore the condition of your hair. 

Are keratin treatments safe for coloured hair?

Keratin is perfectly safe to use on coloured hair and a long-lasting way to lock the colour and shine in. 

Wait at least a couple of weeks for your new colour to set and then follow our own most brilliant guidance to do your keratin treatment at home here: How to do a keratin treatment at home.

Cheat the look with balayage hair extensions.

If you are worried about the condition of your hair, you can’t choose between ombre and balayage, or you’re just not ready to take the plunge yet, hair extensions are an awesome trick.

We recommend the Googoo Clip in Hair Extensions for versatility and range of available tones. They’re real hair too so won’t have that plasticky edge. At the fraction of the cost of a salon do, they’re worth a goo (!) if you’re still feeling unsure.

Just make sure you match your natural hair to the base colour of the extensions so it all blends in. 

Googoo Clip in Hair Extensions Chocolate Brown to Caramel Blonde

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Parting words

Let’s face it, going to the salon can be expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient.

If you’re looking for a low maintenance hair colour treatment that offers high impact result, balayage may just be your best bet!

What are you waiting for?!