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Balayage highlights have been a popular trend in the hair color world for years now. The hand-painted technique makes maintaining lighter hair a breeze thanks to its customizable and low-maintenance nature. Still, going lighter—especially when that means going blonde—requires its share of upkeep. That’s where balayage’s new counterpart comes in: reverse balayage. Ahead, we’re breaking down what this hair coloring technique is, how your colorist can use reverse balayage to blend your roots, and how to maintain your reverse balayage for fewer trips to the salon.
The first thought that may pop into your mind is reverse balayage simply means going from light to dark. It’s a common misconception that this term is the opposite of traditional balayage—instead of lightening your ends, a colorist will lighten your roots. However, reverse balayage is actually not the opposite of the traditional balayage highlights, but instead it works to reverse some of the lightness from your roots to mid-lengths. For example, in order to reverse balayage blonde hair, your colorist will hand-paint a hair color similar to your natural base to add depth and create a more lived-in, natural hair color. This not only adds more dimension to your mane, but also helps extend time between touch-ups for a more low-maintenance ‘do.
If you’re interested in trying out the trend, but you’re not sure how to ask your stylist for exactly what you want, no worries—we’re laying out the differences between balayage and reverse balayage. It’s not as complicated as it seems, there are just two main differences between the techniques.
Balayage involves lightening your strands, which means your colorist will need to use bleach in order to highlight your hair. Reverse balayage is all about creating depth and dimension throughout your hair by painting darker strands and creating lowlights. Your colorist will use a permanent hair dye to do this, no bleach required. With balayage, the pigment will be lifted from your hair (in order to lighten it) whereas with reverse balayage, color will be added.
The overall look and outcome of balayage versus reverse balayage is very different. Balayage will leave you with an overall lighter mane, while reverse balayage will have you leaving the salon with a darker head of hair that might more closely resemble your natural strands.
Almost anyone can get reverse balayage, but it tends to be an option that’s most popular amongst blondes or people with lighter brown hair. This is because it’s an easy way to make blonde hair appear more natural as well as extend time between touch-ups. That said, your colorist could use the same technique on brown hair by painting espresso or other deep brown hues at your roots and mid-lengths. Anyone who wants an overall darker mane and low-maintenance hair color should consider giving reverse balayage a try.
Like we mentioned, reverse balayage is pretty low key in terms of maintenance. Still, you’ll want to make sure you’re using a hair-care system that’s formulated for color-treated hair to keep your mane looking vibrant and healthy. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Protecting Shampoo, L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Protecting Conditioner, and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Repair and Protect Balm. Another great way to maintain hair color is to use a hair gloss. The L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss is an incredible option for mirroring the salon color touch-up toning experience right at home. In just one step, it provides the hair with a boost of shine and conditioning, while enhancing the hair color and tone.
Photo Credit: Hair By Erin Stewart, Minneapolis
Next: What Is Wet Balayage?
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