What is a Reverse Balayage? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

by , Reviewed by

Evidence Based

Fact Checked

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest hair trends, you may have heard of reverse balayage. It’s a look that has been growing in popularity over the past few years and is becoming increasingly popular among stylists and their clients. But what exactly is reverse balayage?

We’re here with everything you need to know.

What is a reverse balayage?

Reverse balayage is the opposite of balayage – instead of using balayage highlights to lighten your hair, it uses lowlights to darken it!

hues at the root area and gradually melting them into darker tones towards the ends.

Unlike regular balayage which typically requires lightening the mid-lengths and ends, reverse balayage does not require any lightening at all.

Instead, stylists use one or two shades lighter than the natural base color and apply them at the roots for an effortless yet eye-catching look.

It looks amazing with blonde and brunette hair colors – we love ash blonde, honey blonde, chocolate browns, and coffee colors for reverse balayage.

But it works just as well with alternative colors too – metallic trends like copper, silver and gold are rocking the reverse balayage look hard this year.

Check out the latest looks over on our reverse balayage Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration. 

what is a reverse balayage pinterest board ideas and inspiration

What is the difference between a balayage and a reverse balayage?

Balayage and reverse balayage are both professional hair-coloring techniques, but there is a distinct difference between the two.

Balayage hair gives you those beautiful beachy-blonde locks that people love; featuring subtle highlights at the ends of the hair for a sun-kissed look.

Reverse balayage darkens up the tips of your hair while lightening near your roots, helping you rock more of an ombré hairstyle with ease.

Balayage vs reverse balayage hair

In a nutshell: Balayage is a technique that brightens your hair, reverse balayage is a technique that darkens it too add more depth and dimension!

Why get a reverse balayage? 

Reverse balayage is a great way to transition out highlights or tone down hair color that’s too bright.

It’s also a great option for those looking to darken their hair without having to commit to an all-over color change.

It requires less maintenance since there isn’t as much bleaching involved as traditional highlighting techniques.

So you don’t have to worry about too many touch ups in between appointments.

Plus, you’ll never have to worry about roots showing since reverse balayage starts at mid-shaft! 

Reverse balayage before and after.

Does reverse balayage use bleach?

No, reverse balayage doesn’t have to use hair bleach. That’s the beauty of it.

The wonderful thing about this hair coloring technique is that it can be done with any color, including natural colors. This means that you can add highlights and lowlights without bleaching your hair.

Reverse balayage adds darker lowlights to a lighter base, but for extra dimension, the hair towards the ends can be lightened to give a more sun-kissed look.

Is a reverse balayage better for your hair?

If you’re looking for a more gentle way to transition your look without compromising the health of your hair, a reverse balayage is definitely the way to go.

By darkening the roots of blonde or highlighted hair, you get all the drama and wow-factor of traditional balayage, minus all the bleach, dryness and damage!

What’s even better? Small tweaks can be made over time to give you an on-trend, blonde hair with dark roots look that fits with ever-changing fashion and beauty trends.

A root blur, color melt and ombre styles are a natural transition from this look.

Can I do a reverse balayage at home?

If you’re interested in trying out reverse balayage, we recommend heading to your local salon!

This is a complex coloring technique that should be done by a professional.

However, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are some tutorials online that can walk you through the process step-by-step.

Always do a test strand first to make sure you like the results before coloring your entire head!

Watch and learn: How to reverse balayage your hair at home.

If your hair color is feeling too bright and you fancy a natural-looking change, here’s a great tutorial that shows you how to do a reverse balayage at home step-by-step.

YouTube video

How long will a reverse balayage last?

Reverse balayage is essentially the opposite of a normal balayage and it will last a good while longer. How long that is, totally depends.

It all comes down to your hair care routine.

You can expect your reverse balayage to last anywhere from 2-4 months before needing a refresh if you give it plenty of TLC.

How to care for reverse balayage hair.

Here are some top tips to keep your color look fresh for longer.

Parting words.

By following the right techniques, reverse balayage can be a great way to tone down too bright hair or highlights, switch up your style and give you a natural, sun-kissed look.

Remember that it’s best done by a professional hairdresser and to take extra care of your hair afterwards with deep conditioning treatments and heat protection products.

But overall, if you’re looking for low maintenance color that’ll last longer than traditional highlights – reverse balayage could be the one for you!

Happy coloring!


  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.