Brown hair balayage | The ultimate guide for 2023.

Brown hair balayage is a stunning, natural-looking style that’s one of the hottest hair trends this year.

The low-maintenance look is perfect for a whole range of gorgeous brunette colours – from light brown, caramel, chocolate, ash brown and chestnut.

If you’re thinking of going for this beautiful, on-trend look, here’s everything you need to know about how it’s done.

Get ready to find some inspiration and work out if it’s the most fabulous hairstyle for you!

brown hair caramel balayage funny tweet

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What is brown balayage hair?

This on-trend look isn’t really a style, it’s more of a technique.

Balayage” is a French word meaning “to sweep” and that’s exactly how the colour is applied to your hair – hand-painted in small triangular sweeps moving from the top of your head downwards.

It’s often confused with ombre because they both use a two-tone blend of complimentary hair colours, typically shades of brunette and blonde.

But ombre is a lighter band around the ends of your hair, whereas this technique leaves darker sections of hair at the ends to create a more natural, multi-dimensional look.

What is the difference between balayage and ombre hair?

What brown hair colours are best for balayage? 

This multi-dimensional style works great with any complementary colours, but nothing beats brunette blends.

There are so many brown and blonde hair shades you can use to get that stunning, timeless, natural hair look.

Dark brown balayage colours like warm chocolate and cool dark ash brown blend beautifully with lighter shades like warm caramel and light ashy brown.

If your hair naturally draws warm or red tones, try blending in dark copper for a metallic look. These are great warm autumn colours for the darker months that give richness, depth and shine.

Light brown balayage is the natural perfect partner for mixing with mushroom blondes, warm honey blonde and cool ash blonde can add fresh, sun-kissed highlights to any light brown base.

Even icy platinum blonde can make a fabulous blonde statement if you’ve got the right colouring for it.

Try blurred or shadow roots to knit contrasting shades at the top of your head and make your style last even longer. The blend of blonde and brown gives a natural on-point vibe for summer months.

In Light Brown Hair Shades you need in your life right now, you’ll find all the colours that work fantastically in this stunning style.

Check out the latest looks for ideas and inspiration.

balayage hair color ideas pinterest

Will brown hair balayage suit me?

The hair colours used for brunette balayage are extremely versatile.

So whether you have cooler or warmer tones, or a light or dark base colour, there should be a shade or tone that works for you.

Do I have warm or cool undertones?

Use our checklist below to find out your undertones.

If you have cool undertones:

  • Your skin tone is pink or pale.
  • You blush easily!
  • Jewel and pastel colours are so your thing.
  • The colour yellow washes you out and does not look good on you.
  • You have blue not green veins in your wrist.
  • Pearls and silver jewellery look awesome on you.

If you have warm undertones:

  • You have red or golden tones in your natural hair.
  • Your skin tone is golden, tan or olive.
  • You might have freckles.
  • You have green not blue veins in your wrist.
  • You suit bright or rich shades better.
  • Gold jewellery looks awesome on you.
cool or warm undertones infographic

Which hair colours suit me?

You can also find out which hair colour suits you by taking our quiz!

Just answer a few quick questions to find out what other hair colours most suit you! Click on the image below.

which hair colour suits me

You can also try on some virtual hair colours with the Best hair colour changing apps you need to use in 2022!

Can I balayage my hair at home?

Balayaging your own hair is not easy. There’s a reason professionals are trained to it! It’s not just the technique that’s tricky, it’s knowing what colours you can use on your hair to get the best effect. 

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

But if you’re feeling confident, or if you already have a similar style and want to refresh it, doing it yourself is absolutely do-able, 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.

balayage hair natural color instagram
light brown and blonde balayage instagram post
chocolate brown hair instagram post

Which is the best at home balayage kit?

There are a few at-home kits that you can buy with instructions on how to get the look. Essentially, these are all lightening kits with special instructions.

This means, you can also use any ombre or blonde highlighting kit to achieve the effect as it’s all in THE TECHNIQUE.

“The biggest difference between salon and at-home colour is that in a salon, we’ll mix two or more different shades to create a totally customised hue.”

~Elena Rossi, Professional Colourist.

But what happens if you just have what’s in the box? In terms of shade, the rule from our expert colourists is always to go for a colour only one shade lighter than your natural hair to avoid any orange mishaps.

Without further ado, here are our top recommends for achieving that gorgeous on-trend look at home!

You can read more about each one in Best at home balayage kit 2021.

Don’t forget to do a strand test before you start!

Best at home balayage kits at a glance.

KitLooks likeBest forRatingBuy now
Garnier Nutrisse Hair Highlights Kit Multi-Lights

Garnier Nutrisse Haircolor - Multi-Lights H2 Golden Blonde 1 Each (Pack of 2)

Lighter shades. You’ll have to ignore the instructions which are for highlighting your hair. four star icon Edited
L'Oréal Preference Balayage

L'Oreal Paris Preference Techniques Les Balayage Shade 3 for Highlights for natural dark blonde to light brown hair

Bronde colour. More golden hues. five star icon Edited 1
L'Oréal Colorista Effect Ombre Hair

L’Oréal Paris Colorista Bleach, Ombre

Easy use and great results.This is our pick of the bunch. five star icon Edited 1
Jerome Russell Bblonde Maximum Highlighting Kit.

Bblonde Highlighting Kit, Permanent Lightener, Permanent Blonde Bleach Hair Dye, Professional Results, With Avocado Oil, Lifts 8-9 levels – Blonding Kit No 2

Cool tones. No hint of brassiness. three star icon Edited 1
Schwarzkopf Live Intense Lightener

Schwarzkopf LIVE Intense Lightener, Permanent Blonde Bleach Hair Dye, With Brigtening Oil Booster, Lifts Hair Up To 8 Levels - Absolute Platinum 00A

Warmer tones. If you’re after warmer colours, this is for you four star icon Edited
Schwarzkopf Professional BlondMe Premium Brightener.

BlondMe (Bleach 450 gram)

Going a few shades lighter than your base. This is powerful stuff. four star icon Edited


L’Oréal Preference Balayage

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00PL7Q1VE&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=colouredhairc 21&language=en GBbronding hair kit

BEST FOR: Bronde balayage colour.

We LOVE the little ‘bronding brush’ in this one, it made it so easy to control how much solution is going on your hair. The colour is lovely with one application which was enough to lift our previously dyed brunette colour a shade without making it orange.

However, this did come out a little more golden than we would’ve liked. But after a few washes with purple toner, we’re happy with how it looks. If you’re looking for a warmer shade and your hair has naturally golden tones, this is for you.

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.

How to do balayage hair at home.

The technique is an 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 do it! 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. 

Watch and learn: How the professionals do it.

If you want to know how to get it right at home and get it absolutely right, it’s useful to watch the pros in action to see how they master it, step by step.

Does balayage ruin your hair?

The good news is that balayage doesn’t ruin your hair any more than any other hair style that involves a lightning process.

It’s kinder to your hair than highlights or ombre for example, as the bleach isn’t so concentrated or heavy in one particular area.

The trick is to make sure the subtle painted highlights look natural, so you really don’t want to lift your base colour more than a couple of levels. Any more and you’ll end up looking stripey – and nobody wants that!

As with any hairstyle that involves bleach, ammonia or hair dye, your hair may be a little drier afterwards. So it’s important to care for your hair before, during and after you have it done.

How do I care for my balayage brown hair?

Once you’ve got the perfect on-trend look, you’ll need to maintain it to stop it fading away. But luckily, it is a brunette style that can keep well with the right care.

Our top tips for making hair colour last longer include protecting your hair against sunshine, heat damage and sea and pool water with the right products.

Also try washing your hair less frequently, ideally once a week if you can.

You can lengthen the time in between washes by touching up your roots with a good root cover up and freshening up your hair without washing it with a good dry shampoo that’s suitable for coloured hair.

The good news about brown balayage is that it still looks good while it’s growing out. Darker root styles and root blurs are all the rage and blend well with all kinds of face framing brunette shades and hues.

To keep your brunette tones cool and stop them turning orange, you need a good blue shampoo to stop your colour becoming too warm or brassy.

Once a week, use a deep conditioner to replenish your hair with moisture and soften your locks.

And don’t forget you can check out all the best coloured hair care tips How to look after coloured hair and keep it luscious for longer for top tips.

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!