How to Do Balayage Hair at Home: Medium to Light Brown Bases

Your Step by Step Tutorial for DIY Balayage

Balayage is a hair colouring technique which has been used for nearly 40 years in many of the top salons in Paris and Beverly Hills. It involves the direct brushing of either a colourant or lightener onto the hair, without the use of a cap or foils.

This balayage technique works best on natural (non-colour treated) hair.  However, by using the Decolour Stripper, the balayage method can be done on colour treated hair to partially strip it prior to recolouring using a camouflage shade, to effectively create a multi-tonal base in a soft, natural way.

This method can also work very well if you have a dark root strap, and want to break this up with some threads of lighter colour.

What Is a Camouflage Shade?

Camouflaging is the method of applying a permanent hair colourant to a pre-lightened, highlighted or balayage base, to deepen the lightened areas while retaining deeper (unlightened) parts. Camouflaging mutes the overall colour and creates a richer, multi-tonal result, without the hard edges that you see when the hair has just been lightened and left.

How to Pick the Correct Shade for DIY Balayage

Choosing the right shade is key. Here are some tips to consider when picking your colour for the second stage of the Decolour Stripper balayage treatment:

  • Colour Restore shades are semi-permanent and contain no peroxide. So, while they will colour the lightened balayage threads, they will not attempt to lighten surrounding natural or darker hair colour.
  • You can select a permanent shade (such as golden blonde, medium ash blonde, beige blonde etc), but opt for a no-ammonia tone on tone colourants. These tend to give the best deposit in balayage-lightened hair.
  • To enhance warmth in your hair colour, opt for shades featuring golden tones; to neutralise warmth, select colourants that feature ash tones.
  • If you are naturally prone to warmth and do not want to display a golden tone in the finished result, always select a colourant with an ash tone as your ‘camouflage’ shade.

Blonde Balayage Hair Shade Guide

For those wishing to go blonde with their balayage on medium to light brown hair, you might want to take inspiration from the A-listers. Whether it’s Elle Macpherson’s honey blonde or Jennifer Lopez’s ash blonde locks, here’s how to get the look.

Diy Balayage Tutorial for Medium to Light Brown Hair

In this step-by-step guide I’ll explain how to first create your balayage base using the stripper, and then how to apply your colour to create a modern balayage effect.

This tutorial is designed for current medium to light brown bases who want to achieve a natural, medium blonde base (either cool or warm). If you have a darker brunette base, check out my tutorial for balayage on dark brown bases here.

You will need:

  • Tint bowl/plastic bowl
  • Brush/old toothbrush
  • Pintail comb
  • Decolour Stripper
  • Semi-permanent hair colourant

Stage 1: Create Your Balayage Base

Step 1: Prep your hair for balayage
Make sure the hair is clarified (washed with a sulphate- and silicone-free shampoo, such as baby shampoo) to ensure it’s 100% free of styling products and conditioning residue; this will allow the treatment to work correctly.

Most importantly, dry your hair into your usual hairstyle – this is crucial to ensure good positioning of your balayage.

Step 2: Prepare your Decolour Stripper
Mix only 50% of your Decolour Stripper elements in the bowl, and ensure only the tip of the tint brush/toothbrush is dipped into the product.

You can keep the remaining half of the product in their separate containers and save them for another treatment at a later date.

Step 3: Coat sections of your hair with the Decolour Stripper
Working on dry hair, use the pointed end of the tint brush or pintail comb to separate a thread of hair (about 1cm wide) from the front of the parting. Pull the thread outward, and starting at the end of the hair section, begin coating in the Decolour Stripper, working upwards.

If you are creating a naturalistic balayage effect, do not run the stripper as high as the root areas. However, if you are attempting to break up a dark root strap, separate a 3mm thread of hair and delicately paint the stripper mixture on the thread, going right up to the scalp.

Work your way around the parting and along the hairline, continuing to weave out threads of hair and painting in the stripper mixture.

Step 4: Coat thicker sections in the underlayers of your hair
Once you have applied the Decolour Stripper to threads of hair along the parting, begin using the tip of your tint brush or pintail comb to pull out and coat slightly thicker sections of hair (1.5cm-2cms wide) from underneath. Again, apply the stripper to the mid lengths and ends of the section first, applying less to the root area.

When choosing the sections to coat from the underlayers of your hair, you can coat sections as wide as 3cms if you wish – it depends on the result you’re after. Work your way through the hair, taking these slightly wider sections from both the sides and the back of the hair.

Step 5: Leave the Decolour Stripper to develop, then rinse
Once you have applied the stripper to all of your sections, do not comb it through as you want to leave a lot of your darker base intact. Leave the Decolour Stripper to develop on the hair for between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

Rinse the stripper out as per the instructions and fully towel-dry the hair.  You will notice the overall colour looks streaky and the tone may be warm – but don’t worry, this is normal.

Now you have created your balayage base, you can apply a semi-permanent colourant or ‘camouflage shade’ throughout the hair to mute and blend the lightened balayage sections into the overall base shade.

Stage 2: Applying Your Camouflage Colour Shade

Step 1: Prepare and apply your colour

Mix and apply your camouflage colourant as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to apply it to towel dried hair, as this will enable the product to cover the hair evenly.

Comb the colourant through the hair to ensure your whole hair is fully covered in colourant.

Step 2: Allow the colour to develop
Leave the product to develop as per the manufacturer’s instructions, before rinsing it out fully.

Step 3: Style and finish
Dry and style your hair as normal. Your balayage stripping process is now complete!

If you wish to build a lighter base and create further multi-tones in the hair, wait 4 to 6 weeks and repeat the process.


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Scott Cornwall