48 Looks That Prove Balayage Is Still the Chicest Hair Trend Out There

As a brunette with very dark eyebrows, over the years, I’ve felt a little limited in what I can actually do colour-wise with my long locks. I used to find that when I embraced my natural colour, I felt as though the cool dark-brown shade washed me out, yet going blonde was never an option, as I was so conscious of my jet-black brows. But that was a long time ago. In fact, it has been eight years since I last had to worry too much about my hair colour.

That is because in a bid to try and find the right balance between dark and light, eight years ago, I stepped foot into my local suburban salon with an inspiration picture that showcased a hair trend that made the stylist scrunch up his face. "Leave that picture with me and come back in an hour. I need to think about this one,” he said. I returned a little while later, sat down in the chair and watched on as one of the juniors rolled out a trolley full of different dyes. The stylist came over and explained to me that after a lot of research, he was convinced he could do something that was going to get me closer to my desired colour, but I was going to have to trust him because he was going freehand. Young and prepared for any hair disaster about to come my way, I accepted.


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

The result was everything I’d hoped for. Subtle hints of blonde shone through the lengths, blending seamlessly into my natural colour at the roots. A couple of years later, and it seemed this new hair colour trend had a name: balayage. While for decades, hair-colouring techniques in the UK had been based solely around a strict menu of block colour, full-head highlights, half-head highlights or T-section highlights, leading UK hairstylists were starting to adopt more tailored, international techniques, and balayage was the first big movement.

Since that moment, I’ve more or less stuck to my balayage roots (pun totally intended) and only really switched up my colour to experiment with other forms of balayage. And in all honesty, I’m not sure I’ll ever look back. When it comes to going to the hairdresser, I’m the worst and often it will be six months between visits. Luckily, balayage makes this all possible. I don’t have to worry about roots, and an impressive selection of purple conditioners (I’m obsessed with Redken Blondage Express Anti-Brass Mask) to keep the blonde cool and fresh along with nourishing treatments to keep bleach damage under control (Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair is my weapon of choice) makes balayage just about the most low-maintenance hair trend going.

Above all, balayage comes in a whole heap of different forms, each one as chic as the next. From thick highlights on already-blonde tresses to superfine caramel flecks through deep brunette lengths, there’s not a single variant I’m not on board with. Sound like something you might want to consider? Read on for everything you need to know, including all of the best inspiration out there.

What Is Balayage?

Without getting too technical, balayage is actually a term that refers to the way in which a stylist applies colour. Rachel Todisco, lead colourist and balayage specialist at Aveda UK, reveals, "Balayage is a freehand technique that creates soft dimension, mimicking how the hair would naturally lighten in sun. The dye is applied to the mid-lengths and ends as opposed to directly to the roots like a full-head colour or foil highlights might.”

The most wonderful thing about it, however, is that how each and every stylist chooses to carry out the technique is totally up to them. "If you took to Instagram and typed in ‘balayage,’ you’d see so many artistic interpretations. Originally, it was a French technique that comes from the word ‘to sweep’ colour onto the hair,” says Todisco.

What Are the Benefits?

For lazy girls like me, the best thing is that you really don’t have to worry about regrowth. Although in some situations, the colour might be taken up close to the root, the idea is that any regrowth will blend in seamlessly.

"Choosing balayage really works with the hair. It creates a totally customisable, personalised colour finish compared to any other technique, and it looks natural,” explains Todisco. "The ability to dial up or down the colour has made it a popular choice for the ‘colour shy.’ You can be as subtle (or bold) as you like with the ability to curate a completely tailored finish that is low-commitment.”

Who Does It Suit?

If you’re waiting for the negatives, you’re going to be waiting for quite some time. Balayage more or less works for every hair type, every skin tone and every length. "That’s the magic of it,” says Todisco. "However, you will likely find that the longer your hair is, the more you’ll get out of the low-maintenance element compared to shorter, pixie styles.”

However, just because balayage suits everyone doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all situation. Because it requires a level of tailoring and personalisation, it’s important to know exactly the sort of style you want before you sit down in the salon chair.

Not sure where to start? Keep scrolling for all of the balayage inspiration you might need.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley with blonde balayage

(Image credit: @cwoodhair)

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's ribbons of balayage create a face-framing halo.

Alexis Foreman with blonde balayage

(Image credit: @alexisforeman)

A couple of subtle balayage pieces is enough to give lift to a darker hair colour base.

Jennifer Lopez with short hair and bronde balayage

(Image credit: @jlo)

How beautiful are these caramel tones in J.Lo's bob?

Lily James with short hair and bronde balayage

(Image credit: @cwoodhair)

Balayage is a great technique to achieve graduated colour from root to ends.

Beyonce with honey blonde balayage

(Image credit: @beyonce)

Queen B shows how good honey-toned balayage can look with darker roots.

Cass Dimicco with blonde balayage

(Image credit: @cassdimicco)

Balayage helps to achieve a sun-kissed effect, which is really showcased when tied back into a ponytail.


Celeste van Joost
(Image credit: @CELMATIQUE)

Balayage looks amazing on every texture and hair type. I'm obsessed with Celeste's honey lengths.


Tia Ward
(Image credit: @MISSTPW)

Tia's caramel balayage blends seamlessly with her short brunette crop.


Ada Oguntodu
(Image credit: @ADA_OGUNTODU)

Ada's silver-tipped braided balayage is just about the coolest interpretation of the hair look we've seen.


Elizabeth Olsen
(Image credit: GETTY IMAGES)

Elizabeth Olsen brightens up her mousy brown locks with superfine blonde balayage.


(Image credit: @LAURENNICOLEFK)

Lauren-Nicole's caramel balayage is nothing short of delicious.


Camille Charrière

This style perfectly demonstrates how regrowth can become a worry of the past.


Chrissy Teigen
(Image credit: GETTY IMAGES)

Chrissy's caramel balayage is so subtle it's like a work of fine art.


Suki Waterhouse
(Image credit: @SUKIWATERHOUSE)

On first look, it might be difficult to spot Suki's balayage, but when you look closely, you can spot the different colours running through the lengths. Subtlety is key for the laid-back style.


Tricia Stoecklin

Ask your stylist to focus your balayage to the front sections of your face to brighten your complexion, just like Tricia. So glowy.


Jessica Alba
(Image credit: @JESUSHAIR)

Jessica's dark roots blend seamlessly into her blonde lengths.


Ambrosia Malbrough
(Image credit: @BROSIAAA)

Ambrosia's braids look even more beautiful with the addition of her balayage lengths.


Annabel Rosendahl
(Image credit: @ANNABELROSENDAL)

Those with bobs can rock balayage too, as demonstrated perfectly here with Annabel's wavy blunt cut.


Jasmine Tookes
(Image credit: @JASTOOKES)

Jasmine's face-framing balayage streaks look amazing styled into beachy curls.


Lotte Williams
(Image credit: @LIVINGWITHLOTTE)

Lotte's borderline-peach tones bestow her balayage locks with a glowy finish.


Arlette Jeanett
(Image credit: @ARLENETT_)

Curls always show off balayage in the most beautiful way.


Renata D'Agrella
(Image credit: @RENDAGRELLA)

Take your balayage close to the root to create a cool '90s aesthetic.


Sofia Ziadaa
(Image credit: @SOFIAZIADAA)

The side parting, the waves, the gloss—this is glamour in hair form.


(Image credit: @THE_OLUWASEUN)

The blended blonde and copper tones are so beautiful.


Danielle Oreoluwa Jinadu
(Image credit: @DANIELLEJINADU)

This subtle blend of redish ends and darker roots is sublime.


Jill Wallace

Create a subtle balayage look by choosing a colour that's close to your natural shade. Jill's soft, reddish ends look beautiful with her almost-black roots.


Victoria Beckham
(Image credit: GETTY IMAGES)

Even VB can't get enough of the balayage trend with caramel locks.


Lelet NY
(Image credit: @LELETNY)

Balayage might be at its most effective on loose tresses, but we think it looks chic swept up in a bun, too.


Lauren Crowe
(Image credit: @LAURENCROWE88)

We couldn't love this bubble pony/balayage combination more.


Renia Jaz
(Image credit: @VENSWIFESTYLE)

Renia's subtle balayage makes her impressive corkscrew curls look even more impactful.


Gisele Bündchen
(Image credit: @GISELE)

Gisele's voluminous locks are my hair-goal inspiration every day of the year.


Amaka Hamelijnck
(Image credit: @AMAKA.HAMELIJNCK)

Amaka's lighter ends will help transition her beauty look from winter to spring with ease.


Lizzy Hadfield

Yes, balayage looks just as chic when channelled in a short, choppy hairstyle.


Margot Robbie
(Image credit: @BRYCESCARLETT)

Margot's retro curly 'do really shows off her honey-coloured balayage in the best way possible.


Aimee Song
(Image credit: @AIMEESONG)

It may be subtle, but Aimee's golden balayage ends show that this look needn't be a thing of contrasts.


Jourdan Dunn
(Image credit: GETTY IMAGES)

Jourdan's blunt bob is kind of making me want to go short.


Emili Sindlev
(Image credit: @EMILISINDLEV)

Emili's chunky blonde balayage looks so great in her thick waves.


(Image credit: @BEYONCE)

Beyoncé shows off face-framing balayage at its finest.


Caitlin Miyako Taylor
(Image credit: @CAITLINMIYAKO)

If you're worried about how balayage might look with a full fringe, you can just stick to lengths and avoid your fringe completely. It's all low-maintenance.


Marissa Cox
(Image credit: @RUERODIER)

Marissa's darker roots make her lighter ends look even glossier (if that was even possible).


(Image credit: @CIARA)

Keep things low-key like Ciara and only opt for bleach at the very ends.


Gergana Ivanova

We love the contrast between Gergana's dark roots and blonde lengths. Don't even get us started on the Chanel clip.


Nnenna Echem
(Image credit: @NNENNAECHEM)

Balayage lengths needn't be blonde—here, Nnenna shows just how beautiful warm auburn tones can be.


Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
(Image credit: @ROSIEHW)

Of course, Rosie's blonde lengths-to-dark roots balayage is nothing short of seamless.


Celeste van Joost
(Image credit: @CELMATIQUE)

Who says balayage hair can't be bright?


Rachel Nguyen
(Image credit: @THATSCHIC)

Having previously been platinum blonde, Rachel's dark-to-gold balayage is a stark contrast—but one we love.


Jennifer Lopez
(Image credit: @JLO)

Can J.Lo ever do wrong? Not when it comes to her hair.


Marie Wibe Jedig
(Image credit: @MARIEJEDIG)

Marie ups the retro feel of her balayage hair with a sweeping fringe and blown-out ends.

Shop The Best Products For Balayage:

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.