The hair trend for 2018 – reverse balayage – what’s it all about?

Balayage took the hair world by storm towards the end of last year so what’s will replace it?
Well – turn the balayage upside down and you have the new trend – reverse balayage.

Just as the classic balayage was a lightening the ends of the hair, the reverse balayage leaves the light section at the top of the head and fades gently to a darker colour toward the end of the hair strands.

What is balayage, why is it different?

The word ‘balayage’ is French and means to sweep, scan or brush. It refers to the technique used to apply the colour rather than the colour or cut.

The colour is applied freehand using brushes and there’s no foil masking or meche used to create the highlights. The dye goes on the surface of the hair strand rather than being saturated through the hair.

This creates a very natural look with gradual changes from light to dark. The lighter colour is at the end of the hair but occasionally it’s also used at the front, particularly where people have a side swept fringe or long hair with a parting.

It became popular last year, seen on red carpets around the world with Chrissy Teigen, Jessica Alba and Gisele Wearing it. It was also seen on Jessica Biel, Amber Heard, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.

Reverse balayage

So this year the hot new trend in hair colouring is the reverse balayage – the lighter hair is on the crown and to the rear of the head, with darker hair faded in toward the ends. Deryn Daniels at Colorado’s Chrome Salon is credited with bring the trend in with an Instagram shot at the end of January. “In a world full of blonde balayage, be a reverse”, he stated on the post, which featured a bouncy wave with colour infused midway down from the crown, getting darker as it went.

Again the difference between reverse balayage and a more normal technique like dip dying is the freehand application method. The darker tone is painted on with the amount of dye and the dying time varied so that the shades blend subtly in, rather than the sharp lines you’d get with traditional dip dying

How to apply the reverse balayage look

If you’ve already lightened your hair, the reverse balayage is the perfect way to completely transform your look without completely changing colour.

If you have dark hair, either natural or coloured, then the starting point will be to bleach the colour out, then either leave it as is or apply the blonde of your choice. Our ‘how to’ Youtube on dip-dying watch here

Then mix up the darker shade that will be used towards the ends of your hair. Applying that is easier if you have someone to help – it’s perfect for mother-daughter bonding

Sweep in the colour

Using a brush, sweep the colour into the hair. If you want to protect the upper reaches of your hair from over-enthusiastic sweeping, apply a conditioner to it. Put more colour at the bottom and reduce the amount as you go up so that the colour fades gently away, leaving blonde at the top.

Take it easy at first and don’t leave the colour in for too long. After all, you can always apply more, but it’s difficult to take it out if you overdo it!

Be different!

Of course don’t have to use a blonde/brunette combination. Another Instagram user posted pictures of an electric blue over platinum reverse balayage.

It’s also interesting to note that the hair was cut to shoulder length so it’s a technique that’s not restricted to people with very long hair.

If you fancy giving this great new look a go, be sure to let us know how it goes. Post a pic on our Facebook page or tweet us so that we can take a look too

Michael Rushby


This blog has been created for anyone interested in creative hair colouring. From celebrity styles to useful hints and tips, our aim is to give inspiration and offer you useful information to help you colour your hair at home, safely but adventurously.

We would love to hear your feedback, and any suggestions on topics you would like us to cover.

Happy hair colouring

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