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Reverse Balayage: 20 Trends & Complete Styling Guide

If you’re in search of a hair color that’s unique and trendy, go for reverse balayage! As indicated by the name, this technique is just the opposite of a regular balayage.

Where balayage is a French word meaning to hand paint the hair turning it lighter, especially towards the tips, the reverse balayage focuses on darkening the roots and underlayers with low lights resulting in a more lived-in look.

It is ideal for blondes who want to rock a darker hair color and for those who wish to blend their natural base shade seamlessly with their remaining lightened locks.

So, what is reverse balayage, and how can you achieve it?

What is Reverse Balayage?

Reverse balayage is the process of adding some depth and dimension to light tresses. While the results may be similar to a conventional balayage, the technique involves hand painting a dark hair color to cover up lightened portions of the hair, beginning from the roots and stopping at mid-length.

No bleaching is required and the style is easy to maintain, making it ideal for those who want to go dark naturally.  

Difference Between Balayage and Reverse Balayage

Difference Between Balayage and Reverse Balayage
Balayage vs Reverse Balayage

Balayage is a technique that focuses on adding lightness to hair, while reverse balayage uses dark colors to give hair dimension.

Balayage is perfect for giving your hair a summery, sun-kissed glow. Many women ask their hair stylist for balayage to be summer ready. It adds light colors to hair through a ‘painting’ or a ‘sweeping’ motion.

Because hair needs to be lightened, balayage pretty much always involves bleach. The most commonly seen colors in balayage are honey, caramel, and chestnut.

Reverse balayage creates dimension in hair by painting in dark strands or dark lowlights. The most commonly used colors in reverse balayage are caramel, cool brown, and mahogany.

Who Should Try A Reverse Balayage?

Many hair colorists will say that reverse balayage is the easy way for blondes to go brunette. While it’s typically blonde-haired women who try reverse balayage, it’s also a good option for women who already have dark hair and just want to give it a new twist.

The nice thing about reverse balayage is you don’t even need a certain hair type or length to try reverse balayage, as it’s extremely flexible and tailored to skin tone, eye color, etc.

How Long Does Reverse Balayage Last?

Reverse balayage is considered both low maintenance and low commitment. What makes it an even more fabulous hair trend is that it can last up to three to four months.

You can always get partial touch-ups if you see any fading color at your roots. A partial touch-up just recolors those areas.

How to Take Care of Reverse Balayage

How to Take Care of Reverse Balayage

Maintain these to make your reverse balayage long lasting.

Cut Down on Hair Washes

One of the best ways to maintain your new color is by making sure you aren’t washing your hair too frequently. Two to three times per week is enough. Like with a regular hair coloring job, the more you wash your hair, the faster the color fades.

Use Sulfate-Free Products

Also, make sure your shampoo and conditioner are both sulfate-free and meant for color-treated hair. Sulfates are in a lot of shampoos because it’s what cleans the hair and washes away dirt and oil. However, it also strips away the color from hair, which is what you don’t want for your new balayage hair.

Avoid Heat

Similar to other color jobs on hair, you’re better off avoiding direct sun exposure to your hair. Not only does the sun’s rays damage hair, it also fades hair color. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, pick up a cute hat to protect your mane.

You also want to avoid using hot styling tools a lot. You can still use a curling iron or hair straightener, but don’t use them every day.

Use a Hair Mask

Even if you didn’t have balayage hair, a hair mask would still be a good idea. Use one once a week to restore shine and keep your hair healthy. They’re low-cost and can easily be picked up in any store that sells hair products. You can also make one at home by mashing together two bananas and mixing in a teaspoon of olive oil.


Lastly, getting partial touch-ups every three to four months is another way to keep your color vivid and shiny. This is optional, of course, but if you want that ‘just left the salon’ look every day, touch-ups are a must.

Remember that you will end up with a darker mane rather than a lighter one when getting a reverse balayage. Here are some trendy reverse balayage hairstyles you can try in 2024.

1. Warm Brunette

wavy reverse balayage hairstyle

Gone are the days when dark roots were considered a problem. Liven up those plain caramel locks by adding a dark brown color to the roots and blending it into the layers beneath. The more the hair grows, the better it’ll look.

2. Spicy Bronde

straight reverse balayage hairstyle

A reverse balayage is ideal for those with a naturally light hair shade who wish to go a little darker without seeming too obvious.

Play with some medium brown tones and add further dimension with delicate platinum blonde highlights. It is incredible how such an elaborate look turns out to be low-maintenance.

3. Gray Gradient

reverse balayage bob

Apart from experimenting with blondes and browns, you can also refresh a worn-out gray hair color by adding ashy brown tones on the roots that extend till mid-length.

A darker shade of gray will look gorgeous too for those who want to stay on the same color spectrum.

4. Fine Lowlights

long reverse balayage hair

Keep it low-key by adding subtle streaks of medium golden brown close to the scalp rather than darkening the roots completely. The brown tinge extends up to chin-length while the remaining pearl blonde tresses are left untouched. An ideal way to tone down the hair a tiny bit!

5. Reverse Balayage with Platinum Money Pieces

reverse balayage on wavy hair

Reverse the radiance of those platinum blonde tresses by covering them with a dirty brown to blonde nuance sparing only a hint of them on the top portion of the hair. Couple the look with luscious money pieces to frame the face, and you will love the outcome. 

6. Golden Brown Curls

curly reverse balayage hairstyle

Dip the layers beneath in a soft golden brown hair dye leaving pops of brightness on the top layers creating a lived-in look that won’t be ignored at any cost. The shadowy pieces will make those highlights stand out without much effort.

7. Red Interplay

reverse red balayage hairstyle

For those thinking of touching up their orangey-red tresses, here is a look worth a shot this time. Go for deep burgundy roots and lighten the ends to a coppery tinge resulting in a three-toned hair color that will surely receive some praise.

8. Multi-Tonal

reverse honey balayage hairstyle

As mentioned above, a reverse balayage can be multi-tonal, featuring more than two basic shades.

Take this style, for example, where warm brown roots turn golden blonde with a hint of platinum that concentrates toward the tips.

So if you can’t decide between dark, medium, and light shades rock them all together!

9. Heavy Darkening

short reverse balayage hairstyle

Women blessed with natural blonde hair can go dark for a change without giving up on their base shade completely. How?

Ask the hairdresser to paint the mane brown leaving only a hint of blonde that’ll look like babylights with those money pieces giving a chic finish as usual.  

10. Blonde Beauty

updo with reverse balayage hairstyle

It is still possible to go dark while staying blonde in case you are a bit reluctant to sport a color from the opposite spectrum.

Choose the darkest shade of blonde available and get it hand-painted on the roots with lowlights on the remaining length.  

11. Natural Appeal

reverse balayage for fine hair

Small changes go a long way sometimes. Go a tone or two lighter on the roots while some dark ends pop against the lighter ones with a brightened portion of hair in between.

This look creates a natural highlighted appeal that is perfect for adding a subtle glow to the face.

12. Just The Roots 

reverse balayage on blonde hair

Reverse balayage can be personalized in whatever way you like. Those who want to get a shadow root effect with their light blonde hair can have dye placed on the roots only and have it blended to avoid a prominent line of distinction between the two colors.

13. Mocha Lowlights

reverse balayage on dark brown hair

A sandy blonde balayage looks gorgeous without a doubt. Get it touched up at the hair salon but with a different technique this time. Instead of going heavy on highlights ask for a head full of mocha lowlights resulting in an overall darker mane. 

14. Caramel Crush

reverse balayage hair with bangs

These prominent highlights extending from the roots to the tips are surely a game changer. Ladies who don’t like the idea of mere dark roots and light tips can bring them together with fine streaks of caramel blonde on a caramel/toffee brown base shade. Problem solved!

15. Vivid Chunks

reverse brown balayage hairstyle

Remember those chunky highlights from the ’90s? Recreate them but instead of highlighting your auburn tresses add some depth by opting for chunky lowlights instead. Get a deep brown hair shade and paint thick stripes alternating them with lighter ones all over the head.

16. Seamless Color Melt

medium length reverse balayage hairstyle

Another seamless color melt to turn around some heads. If you’re not sure what color melt is, read the differences between color melt and balayage here.

Set step into the world of brunettes without leaving the blonde community with medium brown roots that turn ashy bronde before transitioning into a light blonde nuance at the ends. Pull the look together with some face-framing highlights.

17. Sun-Kissed

reverse caramel balayage hairstyle

Both balayage and reverse balayage aim at creating a natural sun-kissed look that never disappoints.

Apart from the usual dark roots, these blonde tresses have a prominent warm brown undertone that is difficult to overlook.

You won’t be able to pull out a single pure brown strand and that’s what the magic is all about!

18. Dark and Subtle

reverse blue balayage hairstyle

Go super dark to wow everyone once you get out of the salon. Choose a deep brown to black hair shade and get it smudged on the roots while extending downward. That leaves only a tiny bit of your previous blonde hair color, whether natural or not, for an ultra-modern look.

19. Chocolate Brown and Toffee Sweetness 

half up reverse balayage hairstyle

Enhance the sweetness of your beautiful toffee locks by grabbing a dark chocolate brown dye and having it painted from roots to mid-length.

An important benefit of getting a reverse balayage is that you don’t need to bleach the hair saving it from damage for once.  

20. Ginger Glam

reverse copper balayage hairstyle

Blondies can enjoy being a pretty redhead by covering their light strands in a fiery copper-auburn tinge. Spare fine chunks in between that broaden toward the ends while hand-painting the hair to create a flawless dark to light gradient. Brunettes may require regular touch-ups though to cover their emerging dark roots!  

There are very few hair colors that don’t have any cons and reverse balayage is one of them. So if you want to spice up your mane a bit or want to blend the demarcation between those emerging roots and your remaining hair, a reverse balayage is all you need!

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