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Last updated: June 07, 2024

Try These 7 Tricks To Master Reverse Balayage

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Photo via Instagram @coloredbycaitlin

Reverse Balayage Techniques For Dimensional Brunette Clients 

The perfect transition after a long summer of blonding, reverse balayage introduces depth back into the hair. Try out these reverse balayage tips on your brunette clients who want to switch things up without compromising any of the long hours previously spent foiling!



What Is Reverse Balayage?

You guessed it, painting on lowlights and darker tones instead of lightening! Reverse balayage is a versatile way to add huge dimension for a natural looking, dark toned twist on color your client already has.


Perfect for:

  • Clients who want easy root maintenance
  • Clients looking to move away from solid blonde
  • Over-highlighted hair that needs dimension
  • A transitional phase from blonde to dark(er)


1. Lift Past The Warm Stage

Lightening brunettes can be like watching paint dry…be patient! The key is lifting your clients as close to pale blonde as their hair can handle before adding dark colors. Lifting past the “brassy stage” (even if it seems counterproductive) allows for a super natural fade and lasting dimensional color on dark tones.



2. Use A Demi-Permanent Color

Try out this tip on your balayage clients for an adjustable coverage on a base color, lowlights, or even a glaze to avoid a harsh contrast when painting a reverse balayage. 


“I don’t like using permanent color on anyone unless I absolutely have to—especially my balayage girls because lifting through permanent color when highlighting is not always fun,” says BTC Team Member Marina Warrington (@colorbymarina). Check out Marina’s formulas for covering gray while adding depth for the finished pic below!


Formula breakdown with Alfaparf Milano Color Wear Demi-Permanent Color:

Base: Color Wear 5 + 10-volume Oxid’o Developer
Lowlight panels: Color Wear 4 + 6.3 + 5-volume Oxid’o⁣ Developer
Glaze: Color Wear 8 + 7.12 + dash 6.3 + 5-volume Oxid’o⁣ Developer


FREE Of Any Ammonia Or Alcohol—Shop The Alfaparf Milano Color Wear Demi Permanent Color Line HERE!


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A post shared by MARINA • PA BALAYAGE (@colorbymarina)


3. Create A Mid-Tone Shade

“I like to add a mid-tone on my girls that have super long hair to avoid it looking TOO contrast-y or highlight-y. Remember not to be afraid of adding that WARMTH in your formula, especially on your bronde babes,” says BTC Team Member Marissa Mae (@maeipaint). Check out how she uses only 16 foils to create the perfect mid-tone shade formula below!


Color melt formula with Color Wear Demi-Permanent Color:
Base: Color Wear 6.32 & 6  (gold violet and natural)
Mids: Color Wear 8.02  (natural gold)
Ends: Color Wear 9.3 & 9 (gold and natural)


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A post shared by Marissa Mae | Color Educator (@maeipaint)


4. Create A Custom Pre-Tone Shampoo

This pre-tone tip from @colorbymarina is a great way to get your clients to a high dimensional blonde in any tonal range. Marina mixes Alfaparf Milano Pigments Color Additive in Violet Ash with Semi Di Lino Moisture Nutritive Shampoo to create a custom toning shampoo for her client before beginning a color melt! 


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A post shared by MARINA • PA BALAYAGE (@colorbymarina)


5. Add Depth To OverSaturated Hair

If the hair is really blonde or obviously oversaturated, consider how to add luster without further damage. An ammonia- and alcohol-free demi-permanent color like Color Wear is a great choice because it takes the worry out of further damage.


Oversaturated hair tends to be super dry and can soak up pigment quickly. Strategic color selection is super important when adding depth back into oversaturated hair to avoid dark shades pulling an unexpected tone.



6. Quick Grey Coverage

BTC Team Member Caitlin Dugan (@coloredbycaitlin) explains how to use demi-permanent color to customize a full grey coverage formula OR use as part of the toning process for a root shadow!


Formula breakdown:

Zone 1: Color Wear 7 + 6.32 + 7.1 + 5-volume Oxid’o Developer
Zone 2 and 3: Color Wear 10.21 + 10.31 + 5-volume Oxid’o Developer


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A post shared by CT HAIR ARTIST | EDUCATOR (@coloredbycaitlin)


7. Avoid Toning Too “Ashy”

Heavy ash tones can take away the brightness in a multi-dimensional color palette. When doing a reverse balayage with cool tones, incorporating a small amount of cream or golden based shades is key to maintain vibrancy. 


Don’t be intimidated by warmth, try it out! These tones help the hair to not look dull and allow the cooler tones to contrast against the peeks of warmth throughout the reverse balayage.


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