The Ultimate Guide to Subtle Balayage on Brown Hair: Tips and Techniques

June 22, 2023

Balayage has long been a trendy coloring technique and in 2023, it will continue to be one of the most requested due to the versatility and endless color possibilities that it brings! Clients are more in the know than ever but, if you still have a color shy client who thinks that their only ‘natural’ choice is fine weaved highlights, it’s time to put the foils, tail comb down and educate them on the art of subtle Balayage on brown hair.

Benefits of Subtle Balayage on Brown Hair

One of the most appealing aspects of a Balayage is its low maintenance nature. This makes it an ideal choice for busy clients or those that just prefer a more subtle, sun kissed look rather than the uniform highlights from the 00’s that can look a little too ‘perfect’ these days. The gradual transition between the darker base and the lighter Balayage pieces helps disguise regrowth lines, allowing clients to enjoy longer periods between salon visits. This way, clients can focus on their busy lives without compromising their unique style. A subtle Balayage on brown hair will give them the dimension and movement they may be lacking and can be tailored to suit each and every hair texture. Win-win!

Choosing the Right Shades for Subtle Balayage

When selecting shades for subtle balayage, it’s important to consider the client’s existing base color and to assess key elements such as skin tone, hair history, and desired results. Have an in depth consultation to make sure you are on the same page.

A client’s skin tone plays a significant role in determining the most flattering shades for subtle balayage. Warm skin tones typically pair well with golden or honey tones, which add warmth and radiance to the complexion while cooler skin can be complemented by creamy, cool tones. Choosing hues that are one to three shades lighter than the base, results in a harmonious blend that looks natural and seamless. For example a natural or colored base of a 6 would look the most natural with caramel or honey tones in a level 7 or 8 to create a warm and sun-kissed effect. Ash blonde shades can give a cooler, more modern look but these create more contrast which will result in a less subtle result.


Creating Subtle Balayage on Brown Hair

The key to getting subtle Balayage on brown hair is to utilize the classic freehand painting technique and to avoid any foils that could lift the hair too light. Strategically apply the chosen prelightner or hair color to the chosen areas that would naturally lighten in the sun, such as those around the hairline and on the surface of the mid-lengths and ends. Focus on creating soft, delicate sweeps of color that mimic natural sun-kissed highlights. Keep the color product consistent and saturated at the ends then gradually blend it towards the mid-lengths for a seamless transition. Take note of the hair’s natural movement and the client’s desired level of intensity, some areas may require more color such as around the crown where the hair is naturally thicker, while the hair around the face may need a more delicate touch. Remember, subtlety is key in achieving the desired effect.

Once the Balayage application is complete and the desired lift is achieved, it’s time to process, rinse, then tone! This is where you can really blend the hair color and enhance the subtle Balayage on brown hair and make that natural (or colored) brunette come alive! A toner will add glimmer and shine, neutralize unwanted tones, and personalized the color to bring the end result together.


Styling and Maintaining Subtle Balayage

You’ve achieved the perfect subtle Balayage on brown hair but, to keep it looking that way, you still need to be consistent with home care! Over time, just like any color, the Balayage may experience some brassiness or unwanted warmth. Scheduling regular toning sessions (ideally every 6 -12 weeks) will help neutralize any undesirable tones and keep the color looking fresh and balanced. To maintain the vibrancy of the subtle Balayage, using care and styling products that are formulated for color-treated hair is key. These products help preserve the richness of the hues and extend the lifespan of the Balayage between visits. Educate your clients on how to maintain their subtle Balayage at home with color enhancing masks like Nutri Color™ Filters. These can help intensify the richness and saturation of their brown color or easily adjust their hair color temperature with a direct, permanent hair toning filter. This will help keep the look as low maintenance as possible but ensure that their Balayage looks flawless until their next salon visit.

Clients may be concerned that hair will be damaged by a lightening service but this can be managed by using Magnet™, our high performing professional  range that contains exclusive BondIN System™ technology. This helps minimize damage and combat the effects of external aggressors. The results that go beyond what’s visible, so you can overcome any technical problem with confidence.

Now all that’s left is to showcase that stunning bespoke subtle Balayage on brown hair with some styling! We recommend letting the natural hair texture shine through as the dimensional color will work best with movement. For great results, choose a styling range that rethinks hydration from root to tip.

Revlon professional styling products

Ready to try your own subtle brunette or even blonde Balayage? Then head to our 24/7 educational platform #AlwaysOn (for customers only, so click the link to become one!) to discover more trending colors and tips. You can also shop our entire product range by logging on to the Revlon Pro Shop.


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