For sun-kissed, lived-in color, the hand-painted highlight technique known as balayage is the way to go. Celebrity hair colorist and Olaplex ambassador Tracey Cunningham says balayage is great for fall. "It allows a colorist to add multiple colors to the hair, resulting in a multidimensional, low-maintenance, and beautiful look without the need to come to the salon every three to four months like with a bright balayage touch-up."
According to Rachael Thomas, manager of education and product development at Madison Reed, balayage involves painting lighteners along the hair's surface, which creates softly blended highlights focused on the mid-lengths and ends of the hair. "It is perfect for fall as it gives that natural, fresh-from-summer and sun-kissed look with a bit more depth at the root."
What's nice about transitioning from a summer color to one for fall with hair already treated with balayage is that it doesn't require a complete redo. Tiffanie Richards, master colorist at Louise O'Connor Salon, explains that balayage easily transitions into a fall look because it most likely began with a lived-in, shadowed root. "Adding lowlights or a deeper gloss or toner can easily transform the existing balayage into a richer, cool weather hue." Almost every hair type and color can pull off natural-looking highlights with balayage, which is why Cunningham says it is a universally loved technique. So, if you're considering revamping your balayage color in time to make a statement for fall, consider these looks as the ultimate source of inspiration.
Meet Our Expert
Tracey Cunningham is a celebrity hair colorist and Olaplex ambassador.
Ashy Bronde Fall Balayage
Richards says Jennifer Lopez's ashy bronde color is the most difficult for brunettes to achieve with balayage due to the lightness and ash of the highlight. "To get this tone, the colorist must lift the highlights to the lightest pale blonde. While it is technically a very light blonde, it is muted enough with ash tones to be wearable for the fall."
Honey Fall Balayage
A classic, effortless California honey brunette, Richards says this color has the perfect amount of golden blonde highlights to pop but allows the natural base of Jessica Alba's brunette color to be the star. "This color is wildly complementing on just about any natural brunette. The warmness of the highlights will keep the skin looking glowy during the cooler months."
Golden Champagne Fall Balayage
"The blend and softness of Sofia Vergara's highlights are incredible," Thomas shares. "This is another beautiful example of a golden champagne tone. However, if you wear your hair in a color similar to this one, you'll most likely need to keep up the tone, so it doesn't lean too far warm as it starts to wear over time." Toning glazes and glosses such as IGK Color Depositing Hair Mask ($25) helps counteract excess warmth in the hair while preventing the color from looking brassy and dull.
Copper Fall Balayage
Richards says this lived-in look on Olivia Jade is perfectly achievable with balayage. “Balayage naturally tends to lift warm, so it will very easily bring brunette hair to this complementing copper tone,” she explains. “Red and copper undertones are famously beautiful in the fall since they pair well with the skin.”
Blonde Fall Balayage
Blonde balayage can vary in shades from light to dark as long as it complements the skin tone—that’s the key. As shown on Lily-Rose Depp, “This color combo, which consists of a warmer blonde with a hint of red, is a nice option for a natural blonde,” Cunningham says. “To achieve this type of look, focus on the first third of the face. The color should be painted starting from an inch or two from the root.”
Babylights Fall Balayage
Sometimes, balayage is mixed with other highlighting and color techniques to achieve a desired look. Case in point: Lo Bosworth's ashy blonde shade, which Richards says looks like tiny baby highlights over balayage. "This shade will complement pale skin tones in the fall," she adds. "Remember that balayage is likely concentrated on the ends of the hair to give a lived-in look, so to keep the hair nice and healthy, moisturize it often." Deep conditioner masks like HAIRtamin Biotin & Botanicals Deep Condition and Repair Hair Mask ($36) help strengthen the hair while boosting hydration.
Moonlit Gold Fall Balayage
"Diana Aragon's moonlit gold balayage incorporates the very loved "money piece," Richard says. "The freehand highlights are concentrated more around the face and spread out throughout the back, giving lightness around the face while allowing contrast throughout the rest. This golden hue is the perfect transition from summer to fall because it gives richness while holding onto that summer blonde."
Cool-to-Warm Fall Balayage
Cunningham calls Hailee Stienfeld's balayage color "a fun look for fall because it mixes a cooler base color with a warmer balayage. The warmer tones bring out the natural features in her skin." To achieve this look, she recommends that the balayage be colored on thin strips of hair, focusing on the front third of the hair.
Tone-on-Tone Fall Balayage
Elizabeth Hurley’s tone-on-tone balayage is classic, beautiful, and extremely complementing. “Her highlights are lifted just one shade lighter than her natural color and toned with a beautiful rich caramel,” says Richards. “This look will keep the hair nice and healthy since it is minimally lifted. It also sports a flirty contrast with deep, rich hues for fall.”
Subtle Bronde Fall Balayage
A subtle bronde balayage, like Mandy Moore's, is perfect for fall without committing to too much lightness. Thomas says that Mandy's haircut showcases her color perfectly. "By keeping the roots dark and having a balance of blonde and light brunette highlights, you'll have people in awe of the color complexity," she adds.
Traditional Fall Balayage
To add brightness around the face, consider a more traditional balayage look with a deeper root and lighter ends. "Serena William's mix of lighter beigey blonde with chocolate mahogany lowlights adds rich dimension," Thomas says. "Lightening the hair can cause the bonds within the hair to break down, but plenty of products are developed to help reverse and minimize future damage by repairing bonds within the hair." Try a serum-based bond builder like Avon x CHI Essentials Revive Keratin + Bonding Serum ($49), which relies on natural bond builders and keratin for smoother, better-hydrated hair.
Two-Tone Fall Balayage
Cunningham says to attain color like Heidi's, keep the roots a natural, dark color and only touch up the roots to cover any grays, if needed. "The balayage here consists of two colors blended seamlessly throughout, with the brighter color framing the face. The darker roots work well for fall because you won't need to go into the salon for a root touch-up as often as if the roots were a lighter color vastly different from the hair's natural color."
Subtle Fall Balayage
Fall balayage tends to be a little less bright and poppy. "Lily Aldridge's balayage is subtle with lighter colors just at the ends of the hair," Cunningham says. "It's moody and dark but has warm undertones that make it perfect for fall." A weekly bond builder treatment like Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector ($30) should be a staple product in your haircare routine to keep the hair healthy and relink its bonds to maintain health and strength.
Red Fall Balayage
Zoey Deutsch's look "is an example of balayage with a pop of red," Cunningham says. "Red, especially lighter, dustier reds like this color, are trending for fall. If your hair isn't a natural warm brunette, start by coloring most of the hair to achieve the base color and leave out some pieces to hand paint for balayage. Then I'd mix a lighter, dusty red color, focusing on the front sections of hair starting from the cheekbones down."
Amber-Maple Fall Balayage
“Joan Smalls’ color screams fall. This is the perfect amber maple shade, which works great for darker bases since the hair will naturally lift warm and expose similar tones,” Thomas says.
Amber Fall Balayage
With a fresh bob cut and hints of golden amber tones throughout the hair, Thomas says this darker balayage on Zoe Saldana is natural and not overly warm, making it easy to maintain. "A colored gloss, like Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss in Amaretto ($25), is great for brunettes who want to see tones like Zoe's show through on darker hair."
Caramel Fall Balayage
Well-done balayage should always be perfectly blended without any harsh demarcation lines and sport a skin-tone flattering hue that’s a touch warmer and deeper than what’s worn during the summer. Thomas says, “Kaia Gerber’s yummy caramel color is a great example of how to transition a lighter summer balayage into something a little deeper for fall without losing all of the lightness you’ve invested in.”
Sun-Kissed Fall Balayage
Cunningham likes this version of balayage for a natural blonde like Dorit Kemsley, who wants to extend the summer vibe a bit longer into the fall. "The front third of the hair is much lighter than the rest, but it is blended well to appear as the hair has naturally lightened from the sun." To maintain the integrity of the color, avoid exposing it to the sun and keep brassiness and dullness at bay by washing the hair with a purple toning shampoo and conditioner, such as Olaplex No. 4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo ($30) and Olaplex No. 5P Blonde Enhancer Toning Conditioner ($30). “These products also strengthen the hair with the brand’s patented bond-building technology.”
Related: The 30 Best Ways to Wear Bronde Hair
Classic Fall Balayage
"Lucy Hale sports a prime example of a classic balayage," says Thomas. "She still has an overall brunette base with golden balayage swept through the front and ends." Invest in conditioning masks and treatments like Kenra Professional Platinum Rapid Hydration Mask Rich ($30) to keep the color fresh and shiny, like Lucy's, which helps keep the hair hydrated and supple.
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