30 Stunning Brown Hair Balayage Ideas to Show Your Stylist

Get all the balayage inspo you need before your next hair appointment.

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@JANIBELLROSANNE / Design by Bailey Mariner

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.

We're focused on the best examples of balayage highlights for brown hair, whether light caramel or deep mahogany.

Choosing a Shade: It's a good idea to keep your base shade close to your natural color and to not go too light with highlights for less up-keep.

Maintenance Level: Low. Since the base shade is usually in the brunette or dark blonde family, you shouldn't have to worry too much about grow-out.

Goes Great With: All complexions and undertones. This look can easily be customized to work for anyone.

Similar Shades: Ombré, tiger's eye

Price: Depends on how many highlights required to get the desired look.

Keep scrolling to see 30 absolutely stunning examples that will make you want to call your colorist immediately.

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Creamy Blonde Highlights

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.

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Layered Hues

This style is proof that you don't necessarily need dramatic layers to show off color. Here, the ends are wispy but somewhat blunt. The real key is the addition of waves for further depth.

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Dark Brown Base

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.

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Caramel Balayage

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.

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Natural Balayage

We can't decide what we love more, Janibell Rosanne's jaw-droppingly beautiful, kinky curls or her gorgeous blonde-to-brown color meld. Yep, we're going to have to go with both.

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Sun-Kissed

Natural brunettes can perk up their color with the addition of painted-on balayage highlights, as seen here, which offer a sun-kissed look without being overly blonde.

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Hint of Balayage

This gorgeous, shiny brunette balayage treatment on short hair is perfect for enhancing waves and adding texture.

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Bronde

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.

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Sun-Kissed Balayage

Sun-kissed balayage is the best on this brunette beauty. Celebrity master hairstylist Justin Anderson's color gives us all the feels.

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Two-Toned Blonde

We adore this summery blonde balayage. It's less high-contrast than the balayage looks with a brunette base, which makes it feel fresh.

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Before and After

Here you can really see the overall effect of balayage on the hair. The after photo shows way more dimension, with blonde streaks that bring light to the complexion.

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Honey Balayage

Honey-toned balayage created by Eva Lam gives this brunette a sweet pick-me-up that perfectly flatters her natural color.

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Mahogany Balayage

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. 

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Bronzed and Bouncy

This is 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.

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Natural Highlights

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.

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Light Brown Balayage

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.

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Highlights and Lowlights

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.

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Cool Contrast

Cool, blonde tones mix with deep brunette color to give a different take on balayage that makes the perfect statement.

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Shades of Brunette

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. 

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Rich Brown

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. 

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Cool Brunette

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.

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Blended Balayage

Balayage never fails to make hair look healthy and naturally voluminous, as demonstrated here with this flawless blend of brown and blonde tones. 

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.

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Cream Soda Balayage

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.

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Short Balayage

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. How perfect are those undulating highlights?

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Voluminous Balayage

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.

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Copper Balayage

For brunettes who don't want to go the high-contrast route with blonde highlights, there's always copper or auburn streaks.

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Classic Balayage

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. That's just another reason we love balayage hair so much. It's incredibly low maintenance.

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Dark With Baby Balayage

Here's a super-subtle take on the look, featuring a deep, rich base, and just slightly lighter balayage on top.

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Dark on dark

Another darker take on the trend, this look is almost sun-kissed. The addition of layers help add depth to the hue.

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A mix of blonde and brown balayage

This look was achieved by mixing bronde and blonde highlights. The waves draw further attention to the balayage, too.

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