We've already rounded up our favorite blonde balayage looks for summer (and beyond) then we moved on to a slightly different color technique and put together a list of our favorite brown ombré looks. What's the difference between balayage and ombré, you ask? 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.
What Is Balayage?
"Balayage is a freehand painting technique, usually focusing on the top layer of hair, resulting in a more natural and dimensional approach to highlighting," says stylist Janna Velasquez of Bomane Salon in Beverly Hills.
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 25 absolutely stunning examples 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.
Ask your colorist for creamy blonde highlights that gradually go up to your dark brown roots. This intermingling will give 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.
This gorgeous, shiny brunette balayage treatment on short hair is perfect for enhancing waves and adding texture.
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.
Sun-kissed balayage is the best on this brunette beauty. Celebrity master hairstylist Justin Anderson's color gives us all the feels.
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.
Honey-toned balayage created by Eva Lam gives this brunette a sweet pick-me-up that perfectly flatters her natural color.
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.
L.A. balayage specialist Christine Silverman makes the whole process look effortless, as the color waves in the most natural way throughout her locks from top to bottom.
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.
Cool, blonde tones mix with deep brunette color to give a different take on balayage that makes the perfect statement.
We also love this brown balayage style, sported by former Byrdie 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.
The transformation on this color is jaw-dropping, and the cool tones of balayage prove that using colors that aren't so warm for brunettes can still be extremely flattering.
Balayage never fails to make hair look healthy and naturally voluminous, as demonstrated here by one of Ramirez's clients.
Balayage suits just about all hair textures. Whether you have fine, thick, curly, straight, or wavy hair, a few well-placed highlights are sure to do the trick.
These balayage tones work together to bring soft, lighter brown hues to naturally dark hair. A stunning example of how multi-tones can really enhance brown hair.
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 also from Ramirez's Instagram. How perfect are those undulating highlights?
A subtle take on brunette balayage, this look is ideal for someone wanting to add highlights but with a natural finish. The way the color is blended shows there is depth and dimension without looking overdone.
Matt Rez is an expert colorist at Mèche in Los Angeles. His is another Instagram feed we classify as 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.
A milk chocolate bayalage tone that looks delicious, you can see how effortless it wears from every angle. The tones of highlights and lowlights merge together to create this flawless color.
Warm caramel balayage gives texture and life to the dark brown color pictured here, it's a perfect example of how color can transition throughout long hair and still look natural.
Now that you have some extra summer hair color inspiration, find out about the best products to care for your strands. More specifically, be sure to check out our favorite 12 smoothing serums for healthy, happy hair all summer long.