39 Cool Balayage Ideas for Every Hair Color and Texture

So many hair-color trends come and go before you can even book your colorist, which is why it’s a big deal when one has staying power. Balayage hair—which first became popular in 2014 and has stayed that way ever since—happens to be one of those. In fact, the technique is pretty much the most defining hair trend of the past decade, and it’s responsible for the beachy, effortless color all over red carpets and Instagram. It’s easy to understand its popularity; it’s super natural, an instant pick-me-up for your hair, and a great way to stretch the amount of time you need between appointments. Here’s why.

What is balayage? 

Simply put, balayage is a highlighting technique that doesn’t use foils. Instead, your hair colorist will hand-paint color directly onto your hair, creating more natural, blended, sun-kissed color. Despite being a softer effect, it also allows your colorist more control, and it’s crucial for creating all those blended-drink-inspired hues like brown ale and raspberry bourbon. “My favorite thing about balayage is that it can be soft and subtle, or it can be amped up through bold and bright coloring, all the while having a universally flattering effect,” says celebrity colorist and Matrix brand ambassador George Papanikolas

In addition to its versatility, balayage is beloved by clients and colorists alike since it not only looks more effortless, it actually takes way less maintenance than traditional highlights. “Balayage tends to give you a better grow-out period,” says Nikki Lee, co-owner of L.A.’s Nine Zero One salon. “Whereas a traditional highlight client might need to touch up her regrowth every eight weeks, you can stretch it to 12 weeks or longer with balayage.”

Into it? We rounded up some of of favorite examples of the technique, below. Scroll on for the best balayage hair ideas to try this year.

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