Fellow brunettes, if you're anything like me, you probably let your locks hibernate all winter, only to find yourself jonesing for a color refresh come spring. This year, the occasion to apply some fresh color feels even more merited—especially for those people out there who went sans-salon through the entire pandemic. (Props, TBH.) If you're not quite ready to return to your high-maintenance highlights or all-around blonde from before times, we have the perfect alternate: balayage brown hair, a low-lift, high-reward color placement option that will ease the transition from spring to summer.
For those who aren't familiar, balayage started as an unfussy coda to 2013's ombré trend; one that hasn't cooled down for the better part of a decade. To accomplish the natural, sun-kissed appearance of balayage, stylists hand-paint each strand with a sweeping technique, hence its moniker, which means "to sweep" in French.
There's a reason this hair-color trend has amassed so many brown-haired fans (myself included—six years strong!): It requires little-to-no maintenance. Once finished, you can have it touched up if desired, but it will never leave you hanging with an unsightly growing-out phase.
To get the 411 on the color-placement trend, we consulted Antony Bui, master colorist at the celeb-favored salon, Rob Peetoom NYC. "I think people want to liven up their natural hair with the balayage coloration for a combination of the reasons, but mostly because people are ready to try something they haven’t before—especially coming out of a period of isolating indoors," he tells Who What Wear. As far as placement options go, he has some advice. "I usually suggest not going too light towards the roots, but enough to shift their overall color to the next level. Lately, clients want a more diffused lightness in the front." Anyone else sensing a shift in the on-trend money piece highlights that have taken over the hair game for the last year?
Though upkeep is minimal, Bui does have a few tips and tricks for keeping that brunette balayage in tip-top shape. "My top tip is finding the right hairbrush and brushing in the morning and at night, to distribute natural oils. Also, using a mild and color-safe shampoo and a hydrating conditioner for the ends. Thermal protectors and leave-in conditioners are always great."
Voilà! You're (almost) ready to hit the salon. First, peruse our assortment of inspo-worthy images to take right to your colorist.