17 Reverse Balayage Hair Styles to Add Dimension to Your Do

Updated on September 14, 2023
Lauren Long By Lauren Long
17 Reverse Balayage Hair Styles to Add Dimension to Your DoPIN

Table Of Contents

    17 Reverse Balayage Hair Styles to Add Dimension to Your Do

    Give yourself to the dark side…

    It’s that time of year. Sunny nights get shorter, leaves change colors, and everything gets slightly darker. After a season of fun in the sun, maybe you’re ready to change your blonde hair and dig those chestnut and cinnamon hair colors of fall.

    Or it might be any time of the year when your sun-kissed hair looks too bright and brassy, and you need a few lowlights to tone down your hairdo.

    Welcome to the dark side of balayage! Reverse balayage is the hottest technique for adding depth and tone to light hair.

    What Is a Reverse Balayage

    Reverse balayage is just like it sounds; reversing the balayage technique. Rather than sweeping in lighter colors to your top layer of hair, it sweeps in darker colors into your underlayer and roots to create more dimension.

    Adding lighter colors to darker hair is considered highlights, whereas adding darker colors is lowlights.

    It is a common misconception that reverse balayage would mean going from light to dark, where the colorist adds highlights to your roots. Reverse balayage is not the opposite of traditional balayage; instead, it takes away some of the lightness from your roots to mid-shaft.

    The reverse balayage technique involves:

    • Lowlights
    • Dark colors at the roots
    • Dimension to light hair
    • Blending effect

    Reverse Balayage to Blend Roots

    Reverse balayage’s primary purpose is to blend in the client’s roots with their lighter base color to create a smooth transition. The colorist sweeps in lowlights from the base of the roots down into the lighter shade for a bespoke fusion of dark and light colors.

    Reverse Balayage vs. Balayage

    It can be tricky to tell the difference between reverse balayage and regular balayage. Both involve the same hand-painted technique, where color is swept onto the hair to create a blended effect. While you might be able to tell the difference by looking at a picture, reverse balayage vs. balayage depends on the starting color of the client’s hair.

    The chart below compares reverse balayage vs. balayage.

    Reverse Balayage Balayage
    • Hand-painted lowlights
    • Blending color into the roots down
    • Making hair darker
    • Bespoke on each client
    • Hand-painted highlights
    • Blending color into the mid-shaft down
    • Making hair lighter
    • Bespoke on each client

    If your hair is already light and you want a darker, multidimensional color, you will want reverse balayage. You’ll choose traditional balayage when you want to change up your hair with blended highlights.

    Are you ready to check out some awesome reverse balayage ideas? We’ve gathered 17 reverse balayage ideas to inspire your next trip to the salon.

    Reverse Balayage Blonde

    When you’ve been a blondie for so long and feel ready for a change, reverse balayage blonde allows you to subtly transition into a golden brunette.

    Blonde hair can be high maintenance, so the reverse balayage technique transitions your natural roots into a bespoke blended balayage effect when you’re ready for a break.

    Reverse Balayage Brunette

    Take your beautiful brunette hair to a new level. Reverse balayage brunette hair creates a multidimensional effect on caramel, amber, and chocolate shades. Blending in darker browns towards your roots with hand-painted brush strokes creates a natural-looking multicolored bronze color.

    Reverse Balayage Light to Dark

    Keep your light blonde locks and subtly transition to the dark side. Reverse balayage light to dark allows the blonde to keep its precedence while layering in lowlights of caramel and amber. The technique creates a mouth-watering melted toffee blonde balayage color.

    Brown Reverse Balayage

    If you have a stunning copper brown or cinnamon hair color and want to add dimension, brown reverse balayage allows you to keep your brunette color while adding tasteful lowlights. This gorgeous coppery cinnamon balayage takes a reverse twist by blending mocha and chocolate tones into the roots.

    Dark Reverse Balayage

    It can be challenging to do reverse balayage on existing black hair without adding too much darkness and not enough dimension. To achieve the perfect dark reverse balayage, your colorist will likely perform a series of highlights, lowlights, and root shadowing.

    To get dark reverse balayage, your colorist may take the following steps:

    1. Blend a very dark color into the roots.
    2. Add subtle highlights through the mid-shaft
    3. Add lowlights from the roots to mid-shaft

    Balayage Reverse Ombre

    If you’re unfamiliar with reverse balayage, you may be picturing a hairstyle like reverse ombre. Reverse balayage is a hand-painting low light technique where the colorist sweeps in darker tones to lighter hair. Reverse ombre is a fading technique where the hair color starts light at the roots and transitions into a darker color.

    The chart below shows a comparison of reverse balayage vs. reverse ombre.

    Reverse Balayage Reverse Ombre
    • Sweeps lowlights into the hair
    • Hand-painted sections
    • Gives hair a multidimensional look
    • Makes hair darker
    • Transitions hair from light to dark
    • Multi-colored sections
    • Gives hair a gradient look
    • Makes roots lighter

    Now, it is possible to combine the two techniques to create balayage reverse ombre. If you like the look of light roots transitioning into darker ends but want the multidimensional effect of balayage, your colorist would apply a reverse ombre technique, then sweep lowlights into your roots to create a balayage appearance.

    Reverse Balayage on Bleached Hair

    Going from bleached blonde hair to a darker color will almost always create a drastic change. Fortunately, reverse balayage on bleached hair allows a gradual transition to a darker blonde shade by focusing on blended lowlights at the roots. Plus, it creates a pretty awesome contrast between ash blonde and brown.

    Try a conditioning treatment like K18 Biomimitec Hairscience repair hair mask to restore your bleached hair’s softness and shine.

    Short Hair Reverse Balayage

    When you have short hair, playing with highlighting techniques isn’t as easy as with thick, long tresses. With reverse balayage, you get the same multidimensional results as you do on long hair. Hair stylists recommend short hair reverse balayage to require less maintenance between color services for shorter hairstyles.

    Short hair reverse balayage works well on:

    • Pixie cuts
    • Bobs
    • Crew cuts
    • Choppy layers

    Reverse Balayage Blonde to Brown

    When you’re ready to take your hair from blondie to brunette, reverse balayage blonde to brown is the perfect progression step. For those who love silvery grey tones, this stunning reverse balayage transitions ash blonde into ash brown balayage.

    Platinum Blonde Reverse Balayage

    One of the most popular reasons to get reverse balayage is when a client wants to transition their hair from blonde to brown. Platinum blonde reverse balayage creates a smooth progression between ultra-light hair and multidimensional sandy hair color.

    Reverse Balayage Brown to Black

    Changing your look from a honey or caramel balayage to black doesn’t have to be done in one shot. Reverse balayage brown to black allows your colorist to sweep in darker shades of mocha and milk chocolate into your mid-shaft and rich brown near your roots.

    The result is a beautiful multidimensional effect and a smooth transition as you make your way back to black hair.

    Zohna Tip

    Pre-book your reverse balayage brown to black sessions with your colorist four weeks apart to get your hair back to black faster.

    Reverse Balayage Bleach and Tone

    People with bleached blonde hair love their ultra-light color. If you have bleached hair and want to mix up your hairdo, reverse balayage bleach and tone is for you. Your colorist will leave the ends of your hair bleached blonde and blend in dark ash color to match the cool bleach tone.

    Light Brown Reverse Balayage

    Are you looking to transition from a light golden or caramel brown to a slightly darker hue? Light brown reverse balayage is an excellent way to progress your lighter brunette hair into richer tones.

    Multicolored brunette hair is an attractive way to give your hair dimension with a blend of spice and chocolatey tones.

    Reverse Balayage for Grey Hair

    Whether you’re embracing grey hair naturally or you love silvery shades, reverse balayage for grey hair creates stunning salt and peppery tones. By adding dark brown or black, rich-pigmented color to your roots and sweeping it through grey hair, your silver and dark colors will blend to get an intended effect.

    Reverse Balayage Black Hair

    If you’re ready to get back to your raven-dark hair but don’t want such a drastic change from blonde or dark brown, reverse balayage black hair is a beautiful way to transition. Your colorist will likely apply dark brown to your roots and sweep in medium brown to create a blended effect.

    At your next session, black and more dark brown tones can be added to subtly transition you over to the dark side.

    Reverse Balayage Straight Hair

    Reverse balayage undoubtedly looks flawlessly blended on wavy hair, but the technique seems multidimensional on straight hair too. When you get a reverse balayage treatment, don’t think you’ll be committed to a curling iron; reverse balayage straight hair looks ultra-sleek and dramatic.

    Reverse Balayage Curly Hair

    Those with tight curls are lucky because your hair blends existing and new colors much more subtly than straight hair and loose waves. When you want an even smoother transition between colors, go for reverse balayage curly hair.

    How to Reverse Balayage

    The biggest pro of reverse balayage vs. traditional balayage is that you skip the most significant step: bleaching your hair. Not only is bleaching damaging to your hair, but skipping the step cuts the reverse balayage technique by less than half the time.

    If you want blended reverse balayage hair, you have three options:

    1. Book an appointment for reverse balayage with a hair colorist
    2. Purchase clip-in balayage extensions that are darker than your hair color.
    3. DIY reverse balayage hair at home.

    When done correctly, DIY reverse balayage can be applied and developed in as little as 35 minutes: 15 minutes for the application and 20 minutes for development.

    Our tutorial will demonstrate how to get honey brown reverse balayage on light sandy blonde hair.

    Here is what you need for DIY ash brown balayage:

    Step #1

    In your mixing bowl, combine equal parts of honey brown hair dye and developer. For medium-length hair, half a cup of each should be enough.

    Step #2

    Split your hair directly down the middle. You do not need to clip up your hair for this tutorial.

    Step #3

    Start with the right half of the hair. Dip your hair dye brush into the mixture and paint your roots. Apply the most color at the base of the roots and blend the color down one of two inches in a back-and-forth sweeping motion. Cover your roots from the front of your forehead to the base of your neck. Repeat on the left side.

    Step #4

    Repeat the process along your hairline around your forehead and temples. Cover each side.

    Step #5

    Take the right half of your hair and section out a one-and-a-half vertical section. Paint the hair from the roots down in a back-and-forth sweeping motion. Paint two inches or more, depending on how far down you want the honey-brown color to cover the blonde.

    Step #6

    Repeat the process using one-inch sections of hair and leaving one-inch sections untouched between the colored sections.

    Step #7

    When you reach the back of your hair, pull your hair forward to paint on the color.

    Step #8

    Once you have finished with the right half, you may repeat on the left half.

    Step #9

    Allow the dye to develop on your hair for approximately 20 minutes. Rinse and blow dry your hair.

    Now, you should have a beautiful honey-brown reverse balayage on sandy blonde hair.


    • How Much is a Reverse Balayage?

      Most salons charge less for reverse balayage since the hair does not require bleaching, and the process takes less than half the time. You can expect to pay a similar price to partial balayage, which starts at approximately $70-90, depending on the length of your hair.

    • How Long Does a Reverse Balayage Take?

      Reverse balayage should take your colorist at most 45 minutes to apply the color and allow time for processing. Additional time will include washing, blow-drying, and styling your hair before you’re ready to leave the salon with a beautiful reverse balayage do!

    • How to Touch Up Roots on a Reverse Balayage?

      Touching up roots on a reverse balayage is a simple process to DIY at home. All you need is a hair color closely matching your reverse balayage roots and the tools to apply it.

      Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to apply reverse balayage root touch-ups:

      1. Split your hair down the middle.
      2. With a hair dye brush, paint your roots from your forehead to the nape of your neck. Blend in a back-and-forth sweeping motion about one inch down.
      3. Repeat the second step along your hairline.
      4. Section your hair into vertical one-inch sections and repeat the sweeping technique.
      5. Leave one-inch sections untouched in between the dyed sections.
      6. Repeat the sweeping hair dye procedure on both halves of your hair.

    Reverse Balayage: The Dark Side of Balayage

    Are you ready to give into the dark side of balayage hair? Reverse balayage is a beautiful hair technique for all seasons.

    Whether you are transitioning your summer strawberry blonde into a cozy caramel brown or want to add dimension and drama, the reverse balayage technique is the makeover you’re looking for!