I'm seeking out a hair change, and auburn hair balayage is looking very tempting. Rich, vibrant color? Low-maintenance root upkeep? Sign me up.
Auburn is one of the most wearable red hair ideas, so teaming it with balayage hair creates the ultimate fall hair color, ticking off two trends in one. According to Tyler Moore (opens in new tab), stylist at Live True London, "Balayage is by no means going out of style - it’s by far the most popular service at our salons." He continues, "We definitely see a change in the tones at different times of the year, including auburn hair balayage for fall."
So what's new for 2022? Award-winning colorist and Redken advocate Harriet Muldoon (opens in new tab) says there's a fresher way to style it out. "It's becoming more popular to take the color slightly higher in the hair. I like to do this with foils to keep that 'lived in' effect that balayage clients love." Whatever tone you go for, there's an auburn hair balayage look for all. Browse our gallery for inspiration - I'm definitely taking screenshots to my next salon appointment.
How to make auburn hair balayage work for you
Can you balayage auburn hair?
Yes - you can balayage any hair color. The technique is all about painting on the color freehand, whether that's bleach or different tones of tints. According to Redken Advocate and Colour Educator Conor James (opens in new tab) Doyle , balayage could work best of all for auburn over any other colors. "The beautiful thing about warmer, copper tones is that minimal colour processing is needed. Your hair stylist will work with the underlying warmth, rather than neutralising it like we often do for blondes."
What should I ask for in the salon?
This depends on the tone you begin with, says Doyle. "How you approach blondes vs brunettes when creating auburn hair balayage is different:"
- For brunettes: "With brunettes, you already have the beautiful deep, warm undercoat sitting under the hair. Gently bringing these tones to the surface and toning within the palette of choice is usually an easy process." He continues, "I would use a classic balayage technique which involves feathering and diffusing product for a lived-in look, using different gradients of the brightness before I choose copper shades for toning."
- For blondes: It's not quite as simple. Doyle says, "Most blondes contain very little natural red, or none at all if you’ve bleached and toned to a clean blonde. I would slowly introduce the pigments back in over time, using Redken Shades EQ toners before building our target shade onto that. This is called pre-coloring; think of when you have to coat a white wall several times if you're going in with darker paint. I usually encourage blondes to start transitioning to a strawberry blonde first."
How long does auburn balayage last?
The good news is that balayage is generally the most low-maintenance highlights technique. According to Moore, "You don’t tend to need a refresh for six months, depending on how often you wash your hair and what color your results were."
The bad news when it comes to auburn hair balayage is that this vibrant tone requires slightly more upkeep. "Getting an auburn or copper balayage can be more high maintenance than other colors as red can fade quickly," Moore explains. "This can be combated by washing the hair less or with copper-toned hair masks, and by visiting your salon for a toner refresh after 6-8 weeks." Conversely, if you decide you want to cool off warmer tones in your hair, using blue shampoo for brown hair can speed up the process.
17 auburn hair balayage looks to inspire
1. Cherry cola
For base color: Brunette and black | Suits skin tones: Deep and/or cool
What to ask for: Keep your roots dark, or opt for red-tinted color - this all depends on the tone you begin with. Ask for lightened mid-ends, adding layers of copper and orange, to show a spectrum of tones.
2. Tangerine dream
For base color: Light brunette and blonde | Suits skin tones: Cool
What to ask for: If you have light hair to begin with, all you'll need is different tones of auburn, copper and orange. Ask for your stylist to start with the deepest tone up top, blending out lighter as hair flows down.
3 Light, bright copper
For base color: Light brown | Suits skin tones: Warm and olive
What to ask for: Chunky bleach application through the bottom three-quarters of hair lengths. A warm auburn root and lowlights, with ginger and peach tones through the ends.
4. Autumn berry auburn
For base color: Dark brunette | Suits skin tones: All, but especially deeper tones
What to ask for: Minimal bleach will be required, for light, almost babylights-inspired balayage. Ask for bold, bright red toner, to keep the color vibrant. This will also help it stand out amongst the brunette undertones.
5. Ginger spice
For base color: Brunette and black hair | Suits skin tones: Warm-deep
What to ask for: We love that this show how auburn hair balayage isn't just for straight and wavy hair, suiting all curl types. Minimal bleach is best, to prevent damage to delicate curls - ask for a face-framing, scattering of lights, and adding an auburn tone all over. This will look different in all areas of your hair.
6. Classic auburn hair balayage
For base color: All tones of brunette | Suits skin tones: All tones
What to ask for: This is the fundamental look that comes to mind when I think of auburn hair balayage. Ask for rich, red-toned roots with lighter streaks of copper and caramel.
7. Fireside glow
For base color: Light to mid-brunette| Suits skin tones: Cool
What to ask for: Bright lightening on the bottom third of hair, with slim highlights painted throughout the mid-lengths. A bright copper toner, with an auburn tint at the roots.
8. Pale auburn
For base color: Blonde and light brunette | Suits skin tones: Warm toned
What to ask for: If bright colors seem a bit intimidating, try this toned-down take on the trend. Ask for well-blended balayage, including subtle, fine highlights rather than chunkier ones. A honey toner in a reddish blonde will work well.
9. Caramel swirl
For base color: Brunettes of all shades | Suits skin tones: All, in cool tones
What to ask for: Brown hair with blonde highlights is a classic look that will always be in style. This look gives it a richer twist, thanks to the red-skewed brunette tone. Ask your stylist for an auburn brunette, with a scattering of lighter balayage applied throughout, topped up with caramel tint.
10. Pumpkin spice
For base color: Blondes and greys| Suits skin tones: Fair and/or cool
What to ask for: Pumpkin spice hair color is a key trend for this year, so it makes sense that it slots into the world of balayage. Ask for light auburn roots, blending out to a pumpkin or copper shade through the ends.
11. Super-subtle balayage
For base color: All | Suits skin tones: All
What to ask for: If this is your first foray into bleaching, this delicate look is a great place to start. It'll also suit all hair and skin tones, as it's an entry-level way of achieving an auburn balayage look. Subtle, well-blended balayage is applied throughout the hair, then topped up with a fresh auburn tint.
12. Vivid copper
For base color: Brunette and black hair | Suits skin tones: Cool
What to ask for: Bold, bright shades aren't just for summer hair colors - this clementine shade will work all year round, thanks to its combination with darker roots. Ask for dark golden brown roots, and the balayage bleach pieces should have a bright copper tone.
13. Scattered auburn balayage
For base color: Brunettes and redheads | Suits skin tones: All
What to ask for: If you're not sure where you stand in the highlights vs balayage debate, this could be the ideal look for you. This well-blended balayage is somewhere in the middle of the two, so you can personalize it to the look you're after. Hand-painted balayage works especially on curly hair like this, so speak to your colorist to find the ideal version for you.
14. Dip Dye Balayage
For base color: Light brunette and blonde| Suits skin tones: Warm
What to ask for: The dip dye is the more intense version of balayage, with chunkier bleach applied from the very ends. This is a blend of both techniques, with a severe dip dye on the ends, with blended balayage along the top portion. It's all finished off with a wash of copper. This is a bleach-heavy technique, so make sure you follow up with weekly use of your best hair masks to keep your hair nourished.
15. Pale Orange
For base color: Light brown, reds and blondes | Suits skin tones: Pale-mid, in cool tones
What to ask for: A lighter, brighter take on auburn hair balayage. Ask for a copper tint all over, with some balayage incorporating a money piece around your face, to brighten it up.
16. Butterscotch auburn balayage
For base color: Brunette and black hair | Suits skin tones: Cool, of all tones
What to ask for: A deep chestnut brown with a reddish tone for the majority. Then, a smattering of well-blended balayage in copper and spicy caramel tones throughout.
17. Auburn with a cherry twist
For base color: Brunettes of all tones | Suits skin tones: All
What to ask for: Warm tones all over. Start with deep auburn at the roots, and ask for bright, deep red tone applied throughout. Bleach highlights will create lovely different tones of red throughout.
Rhiannon Derbyshire is the Senior Beauty Editor for Woman & Home and other publications.
She started interning for magazines while working alongside her Fashion Journalism degree. There, she was lured to the beauty desk, seduced by matte lipsticks, posh shampoos and every skincare product imaginable. A first-language Welsh speaker, she can tell you why the best mascaras are always high street, why SPF is a non-negotiable all year round and how to find the exact right red lipstick in two languages.
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