Dark Balayage Hair Color Ideas That Are Surprisingly Low Maintenance

  • This season, give your brown hair a refresh with a dark balayage hair color.
  • The color technique is perfect for brunettes looking for a low-maintenance style.
  • See our favorite examples of the look, from caramel brunette balayage to dark brunette balayage.

Each fall, our to-do list to prepare for the new season looks a little something like this: hunt for Halloween decorations, stock up on autumnal-scented candles, pull out our favorite neutral eyeshadow palettes and dark lipsticks, and think of what seasonally appropriate hair color we're going to debut next.

While classic hair-color choices like dark balayage never go out of style, we like to keep it on the back burner until the weather starts to cool down because the warm brown and beige hues mixed with a brunette base lend themselves so nicely to fall — they practically mimic the sweet swirls of a grande Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. For anyone who doesn't know what exactly balayage is, Jenna Perry, celebrity hair colorist and owner of the Jenna Perry Hair Studio in NYC, explains that it's "a French hair-coloring technique that is painted on the hair without using foils." Unlike highlights, balayage is more freehand.

Because of the way the different dye — typically in various shades of caramel, chestnut, honey, and chocolate — is painted onto the hair, it can be customized to your specific hairstyle, making it look very natural. It's also incredibly low maintenance. "If performed properly, anyone can have balayage," Perry tells POPSUGAR. "It lifts your hair to its highest potential. Although, it can take a few sessions to get the desired level of lift and contrast."

If you adhere to the age-old "lighter in the summer, darker in the fall" beauty rule when it comes to your hair color, dark balayage for brown hair could be a great next move for you. Perry's tips for trying the look for the first time: "Research and find realistic references of what you would like to show your colorist."

To get you started, we rounded up a handful of examples of dark balayage for brunettes ahead.

Caramel Brunette Balayage

Swirls of caramel hair color work perfectly year-round, but they are especially fitting for fall against warm and neutral skin tones. The multitonal hue looks great on brunettes with pre-existing balayage or highlights ranging from medium brown to medium-light tones.

Cool Blond Brunette Balayage

Just because you have brown hair doesn't mean you can't add a jolt of icy blond color throughout. You will need to start with lots of delicate baby blond balayage framing the face and crown, with your stylist lifting most of your ends to a pale baby blond.

Amber Brunette Balayage

Perfectly in line with the seasonal Starbucks drink, this amber tone adds a hit of spice to any brown hair color. Make sure to work with your stylist on the perfect shade of red for your individual skin tone — it might veer more copper if you're paler or light-skinned, or it might be a richer amber if you have deeper tones.

Chestnut Brunette Balayage

The chesnut balayage color falls between a warmer caramel and cooler blond, which means it works on virtually any skin tone.

Dark Honey Brunette Balayage

You might hear the word "honey" and think light, golden tones, but there are many variations to the shade, including this darker, almost roasted-looking hue that blends seamlessly into brunette or medium brown hair.

Light Honey Brunette Balayage

If you're looking for more contrast with your balayage hair color, choose a shade (we like this lighter honey hue) and ask your colorist to concentrate the placement around the face to frame it.

Subtle Brunette Balayage

Giving your color a subtle ombré gradient effect can have a big impact: just ask your colorist to start with a darker brunette color at the roots that slowly fades one (or two) tones lighter than your base color as it gets closer to the ends.

Golden Brunette Balayage

If you're after a honey hue that veers more golden, ask your stylist to fine-tune the shade to look lighter. It might take a little more pre-processing to brighten the dark hair, but the end result looks effortless.

Chocolate Brunette Balayage

Like a Hershey chocolate bar, this color looks creamy and blends best into extremely dark brown (if not near-black) hair.