If you’re looking for a new style to switch up your hair this year, why not look at it in reverse?
Don’t worry, no inversion or headstands necessary—save that for yoga. We’re talking about reversing a popular hair trend, balayage.
Balayage hair has dominated the hair scene for several years now. The term is a French word that means to sweep, or to paint, referring to the technique used to create the balayage look. To create the balayage hairstyle, hair dye is painted onto the hair to give it a natural transition of lighter colors without streaks or harsh lines.
Balayage gives hair that sun-kissed, just came from Cabo look while adding various light tones and dimension of color that blends into the hair. While balayage has been very popular among blondes, the technique of painting or sweeping hair color onto the strands make it customizable for any hair color and hair type.
What is reverse balayage?
Essentially, the same techniques are used, however instead of concentrating on sweeping or painting on lighter colors on the top layers of the hair, the focus is on the deeper ones underneath. Reverse balayage goes deep, meaning the low-lights and undertones are darker and the highlights that are painted on top are a deeper shade than you’d choose with a regular balayage. The darker strands that are painted on sit just below the lighter sections helping to give off a smudged look, making the light and darker tones blend more seamlessly.
What’s the difference between reverse balayage and regular balayage?
The biggest difference between balayage and reverse balayage is basically light vs. dark. Regular balayage gives that sun-kissed, lighter look, whereas reverse balayage plays off the darker tones, giving your hair a more lived-in look with lighter tones.
Both styles blend light and dark tones for more dimension, which separates them from ombré hair which has darker tones on top that transition to lighter tones towards the mid-shaft and ends of hair.
So, who should try a reverse balayage? Anyone! Just like a regular balayage, this style is customizable to all hair colors and hair types. As the highlights and lowlights play off your base or natural color, this style can be made unique to you.
If you’ve typically gone lighter when looking for a new color or style, reverse balayage may be a good alternative. If you’re looking to give your hair more dimension, the reverse balayage is definitely for you.
If you have darker hair and are hesitant to go too light too quick, reverse balayage is a great style to test drive how you feel about lighter colors. If you have blonde or brunette hair and want to play off natural tones without going too bright, this is also the style for you.
If you’re looking for other unique styles to start off the new year, why not go based off your zodiac sign?
Reverse balayage: a low maintenance alternative
Another bonus of reverse balayage is that it not only looks good, but it’s also low maintenance. When the color grows in it blends in with the darker or natural tones. As the darker shades and low lights sit under and in between the lighter colors, the dimension of the style remain in tact for weeks longer after your original appointment.
To help keep reverse balayage or regular balayage look better for longer, make sure you’re maintaining a healthy hair routine for color-treated hair. While nothing feels or looks as good as new color or balayage, damage, dryness and breakage are never good looks. As coloring the hair increases the chances of these hair issues be sure to follow some simple rules:
- Use shampoo and products specific to colored hair
- Wash and shampoo less often (maximum 3 times a week)
- Use a deep conditioner and hair mask once a week or as needed
- Avoid heat styling when you can
- Get regular trims to avoid breakage and split ends
For more tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Colored Hair Care.
Another way to get the reverse balayage look or play with color without the commitment, dye, and potential hair damage is to use hair extensions. Try Balayage Hair extensions that cover a range of colors from black to blonde that will help you get the look without the dye. Using hair extensions to create the reverse balayage look also helps to add length and volume to the hair.
Now that you’re familiar with reverse balayage, how to get the look, maintain the look and even get the look without the dye, it’s time for a little style inspiration. Check out these reverse balayage looks and see how you can make it your own.
1. Long Brown and Caramel Locks
This look is a whole mood. The caramel tones blend into the dark brown and black undertones and the length of this beauty’s hair make the reverse balayage really pop. The dimension in the colors also show how nicely the color will grow in even weeks or months later.
2. Blonde, but reverse balayage
Blondes can definitely have fun with this style, with the darker tones the sun-kissed look is more spread out throughout the hair and not just concentrated on top.
3. Play up your pony
The beauty of balayage without the dye, could you even tell? Get the look with a Dark Ash Brown Balayage ponytail extension.
4. Reverse balayage with short hair
Playing with color is not reserved for just reverse for long hair. We like that the reverse balayage technique can translate to shorter styles as well. Talk about versatile!
5. Seeing red
Move over traditional hair colors, reverse balayage can go for any tone, as proven with this fiery red look.
6. A touch of bronze and browns
We love this refreshed take on browns and bronze, the reverse balayage creates softer brown tones with pops of light.
7. Mid-length mood
Dark roots and mid length hair but make it reverse balayage. We love how this trend makes the color look lived in, yet fresh.
8. Dark and subtle
Reverse balayage can be considered balayage’s subtle sister, but not any less pretty. Case and point, this dark look.
9. Layer love
Love lots of layers or the shaggy look? Yes, reverse balayage works for this cut too.
10. Silver lining
Grey/silver is still a popular pick and using it to highlight or low light a reverse balayage is a refreshing take on the popular color.
11. Beautiful Brunette
The shine, the dimension, that caramel color perfection – this reverse balayage is perfect for brunettes who want to go lighter without going blonde, playing up the best of brown tones.
If the new year has you dyeing to try a new look (see what we did there?) it has to be reverse balayage. A color treated look that looks great on all hair types and is low maintenance? Not many styles have time and color pay-off. Are you willing to give reverse balayage a go this year?
Written by: Rosalyn Solomon