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Last updated: May 25, 2021

Watch: Brunette Balayage & Gray Coverage Tutorial

Here’s How To Give Brunettes Dimension In 15 Minutes

Have you ever over-highlighted your brunette clients to the point that they looked blonde? RUSK Artistic Director Laura Gibson (@lgibsoncolorist) shows how less is more when it comes to balayaging brunettes after a gray coverage service. Keep scrolling to get her expert tips on covering grays and applying highlights in one appointment, plus how to avoid your clients looking too blonde. 


Watch the full tutorial above! Don’t forget to check out the finished look and grab the formulas below!


CLICK HERE To Purchase RUSK Ruskin10 Permanent Creme Color!


Check Out The Before & After!

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Gray Coverage In 10 Minutes

Before Laura got started on the highlights, she covered the model’s grays using RUSK Ruskin10 Permanent Creme Color. The model was at least 55 percent gray with almost two years of new growth. She started by applying the color on the midlengths and ends first and then applied it at the root to achieve an even application. Ruskin10 provides gray coverage in 10 minutes, so Laura can immediately jump into the balayage application on the same day. The total service with base color and balayage should take around 35 minutes behind the chair. 


Note: Laura stresses the importance of breaking up the base coverage and balayage service. Applying the base color and highlights at the same time could be a lot for the hair to process, so it’s safer for the client’s tresses to move in sections.


Balayage Vs. Hair Painting

“Balayage is more of a visual application. Where you paint it, it will go,” says Laura. There’s a difference between the balayage technique and classic hair painting. Hair painting is when you cover an entire panel with lightener leaving no points in between, so the lightener is feathered and blended out. Balayage is when points are created when painting to leave depth in between. This is when you see angled, v- or w-shaped panels of lightener, versus an entire painted section.


Tap The Beaker For The Formulas!

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  • Formula A (base)

    RUSK Ruskin10 Permanent Creme Color 5N + 20-volume developer 

  • Formula B (highlights)

    RUSK Deepshine® Ultimate Blonde Blue Powder Lightener + 40-volume developer

  • Formula C (gloss)

    RUSK Deepshine® Gloss Demi-Permanent Color 6n + RUSK Deepshine® Zero Lift Balancing Lotion


Do This To Make Fine Hair Look Fuller

If the client has fine hair, take larger sections when balayaging to help the hair look denser and avoid over-highlighting. Laura prefers to use two-inch sections if the clients ends look thin. If she applied lightener to a one-inch section on fine hair, it would be see-through and the client would turn out more blonde than brunette from too many highlights.


Remember this technique isn’t about blending, but keeping the brunette base and adding in highlights for dimension. Avoid placing highlights directly next to each other or you’ll lose the base color and end up with… You guessed it! More blonde.


Check Out The Toning Process For The Finished Look!

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A post shared by Laura Gibson (@lgibsoncolorist)


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