This article was almost difficult for me, as a hairstylist, to write because every time I hear “I want to be ash blonde!” from a client, I have to take a deep breath. It is a beautiful color that people have strived for as long as I have been doing hair(a long time). However, every ash blonde shade is not always attainable for some people, so I have made up this list of ash blonde balayage hair styles with different looks that will work for different people.
Whether you have been box coloring your hair black or you are a natural blonde, there is an ash blonde balayage hair style on this list for you. I totally get why it is such a sought-after color, and I want everyone to be able to get those cool tones that they are going for. Even though your specific idea may not be suitable for you, there are plenty of other ash blonde balayage hair styles that you can get!
Best Ash Blonde Balayage Up Front
The best ash blonde balayage can never be a definite answer because everyone has their preferences, and I’m not here to say what you like is wrong. However, there is one ash blonde balayage that I find easy to achieve for anyone and is still very beautiful, and that is subtle ash blonde balayage. This option is especially great if you like making people wonder if you have stunning natural hair or if you’ve done something to it.
What is Ash Blonde Balayage?
The best way I can explain what ash blonde balayage is is to do it in two parts. First, let me explain ash-blonde, characterized by cooler tones and lighter shades of hair color. The underlying pigment of ashy colors is blue or violet, so in that case, there are no yellow or orange tones in ashy hair. Examples of ashy blondes would be silver hair, platinum hair, and mushroom hair.
Balayage is a newer trend that only started appearing in the hair color world about eight years ago. It is a form of highlighting that is painted onto the hair so that it fades up to the root and looks more natural. This technique makes your hair look like you have been sitting in the sun for a long time, making your hair naturally lighten. It has evolved into edgier looks, like high contrast colors and fading your natural into unnatural colors.
Selection Criteria for Ash Blonde Balayage
Cool Tones Throughout the Hair
When looking for ash blonde balayage, I wanted to find looks where the hair was different ashy shades. In my opinion, ashy blondes don’t usually look good with a warm base. I also like to consider the bleeding of colors, which is when one color transfers onto another when the hair is washed. Think of it as putting a red sock in the washer with all white clothes.
Balayage is a highlighting trend that I think is here for the long haul because, let’s be honest, it’s much more flattering than other highlighting methods. However, gold blondes have been taking over the blonde world recently. This doesn’t mean that ash blondes are entirely out of style, though, and there are still many fashionable ways to do an ashy blonde balayage.
Anyone Can Achieve One Of These
Ashy blonde is one of the hardest colors to achieve because you have to lift the hair higher through all of the brassy stages to then tone it back down to an ashy color. I don’t have enough room in this article to explain why that is so, but maybe in a later article. Anyway, I have included a variety of ashy blonde looks that even the most resistant hair can achieve at least one of these.
Ash Blonde Balayage Hair Styles
You might have heard this hair color called mushroom brown, but I like to call it mushroom balayage because it is technically a mixture of a super ashy brown base with ashy blonde highlights going throughout it. This is done to mimic the little fungus we like to put on our pizza. It is a blended look where the colors almost seem to coexist rather than lay on top of each other.
I like to do this color with a medium ash brown at the base and then run two different ash blondes through the balayage. One of the blondes should be extremely light, basically white, to mimic the mushroom cap. The other blonde can be a slightly darker, almost silver, blonde that gives the balayage an iridescent look.
It doesn’t get any ashier than silver because silver is the complete absence of any yellow or orange and may even look like it has a blue or purple tint in a particular light. There are also many different shades of silver, from darker titanium silver to almost white silver. I find this color looks best with an extremely ashy base or black base because any warmth in your base color will look even more warm up next to silver.
Silver balayage is one of the most challenging colors to get and maintain. To get a silver color, you must first lift the hair until there is nearly no more yellow in it, which is only healthily possible on someone who is a natural blonde or light brown. You also have to fade the color into the root slightly differently from a regular balayage because the standard way of doing balayage always creates warmth in the blend.
When I think of icy, I think of near-white with a bit of a grey tint to it. I find that icy blonde balayage looks best with an ashy light brown or dark blonde base. The icy blonde will make your base look darker than it actually is, and going too dark with your base color can give you too much contrast to where it almost looks black and white.
Icy balayage and silver balayage are relatively similar because you have to lift the hair past any yellow stage to achieve it. If there is still warmth in your hair before your tone it to that icy color, it will show through the toner and give it a muddy look. You may not want to try this look if your hair is darker than a light or medium brown, or it may cause some damage.
Platinum balayage is as light as you can go in the ash blonde balayage world. With this look, most of your hair is balayaged to blonde, with only maybe the top three or four inches being faded between blonde and your base color. It also isn’t so ashy that it makes the color look darker, and you still have a lot of reflection to it to make it shine bright.
The tone of platinum blonde isn’t completely ashed out like in icy blonde, so a bit of yellow left in the hair before toning is perfectly fine. This means that it is slightly easier to achieve than icy balayage but still not the easiest. You definitely will not be able to go from near-black hair to this in one sitting. If you are ok with dragging appointments out over some time to get to this look, it may be possible from really dark hair.
Bronde is a word mash-up between blonde and brown, and it results in the perfect in-between blonde-brown, in other words, dark blonde. People often confuse dark blonde with brown, and some hairstylist out there made up the word bronde so that everyone could win. I think it’s a bit goofy, but at least bronde is a cool word.
This is the perfect shade of ash blonde balayage for those with darker complexions and cool skin tones. It is also a more manageable color for those with near-black hair colors, including those who have colored their hair with box black (please don’t). People with natural near-black hair could even get to this color in one sitting.
Light ash blonde balayage is very similar to platinum balayage in that they are the same color of blonde. The difference is that light ash blonde balayage has more dimension throughout, whereas platinum balayage is primarily light ash blonde. They both still look like an ash blonde but without losing the reflection and brightness of a standard blonde.
I find that this color looks best on those with naturally lighter hair. The light hair adds to the light ash blonde effect, and it is also effortless for a natural blonde to achieve this look. You can still achieve this look if you have darker hair, but it may take multiple sessions instead of being all done in one session like a naturally lighter-haired person would be.
Dimensional ash-blonde makes your ashy blonde look almost iridescent rather than two-toned. This dimension is created when you layer two or three different levels of darkness throughout the balayage. For example, you have a medium brown base color with a dark ash blonde and light ash blonde balayaged into it.
This look is almost always naturally created when you are getting multiple sessions of balayage done to become lighter. This is because your first balayage gets lifted to a darker ash blonde, and when you go in for your second session, certain pieces of previously balayaged blonde get picked up and made brighter, leaving some of the dark ash blondes. It can also be created by lowlighting light ash blonde balayage with a dark ash blonde.
Sun-kissed balayage is done by only painting on balayage where the sun naturally hits, including mainly around the face, on the top layer of hair, and on the ends where hair peaks out under the layers. It will never look one hundred percent natural because nobody’s hair naturally lightens in the sun to an ash blonde, but it is about as close as you can get with this color of balayage.
I like to do my sun-kissed balayages by doing a partial balayage, which saves you a little bit of money. Anyone and everyone can do a sun-kissed ash blonde balayage because you can do it in any ash blonde color. Do a sun-kissed look in dark ash blonde if you have dark hair. When doing this type of balayage, you also take smaller pieces, which makes the hair lighten easier and more evenly, making it easier to get to your blonde goals.
I love a good face-framing balayage because it is quick, not all that expensive, and can make quite a difference in your hair style. This ash-blonde balayage is precisely what it sounds like, balayage that is focused around the face and gradually fades into the back of your hair. It’s similar to sun-kissed balayage but doesn’t have the top layer or ends of the back balayaged.
This is an even more affordable option than sun-kissed balayage because it is even more of a partial balayage with only the front pieces of the hair being balayage. You can make the face-framing as heavy of a balayage as you want, but just remember the more balayage you put in the front, the more it will contrast the back, creating an edgier look. This can also be done in any ash blonde color you want, making it very versatile for different people.
By high contrast, I mean going from one level of darkness to the complete opposite level of lightness, like near black to near white hair. You can do this with balayage by doing more of an ombre look between the two colors or thicker balayage highlights. This look is much edgier than a standard balayage and will stand out more than look natural.
Although this is an extremely fun look, it is not so fun to maintain, especially if you need to color your base darker. Lifting darker hair color is even more difficult than lifting naturally dark hair, so if you have to darken your base, it will be even more of a challenge to touch up the light ash blonde balayage later than if you have naturally dark hair. If your hair is naturally dark and healthy, you can most likely get to this light blonde in one session each time you get it done.
Subtle ash blonde is when there is only a slight difference in color between the base and the ash-blonde balayage, and it blends seamlessly. This color should be so subtle that it could be mistaken for your natural hair color in the best way. I love a good balayage that makes people say, “Wow, is that your natural hair color?” but I know there are people who like the money they spend on their hair to be noticeable, and this color is not for those people.
Anyone and everyone can achieve this look because your hair only has to be lifted two or three levels before it is toned down to an ashy color. However, the process takes even longer than a regular balayage and can be more expensive. This type of balayage includes baby lights as well, which is a very tedious process that involves a lot more detail.
A money piece is that bright thick piece that you see around the face of some balayage hair. It makes a statement from the rest of the hair and really makes your hair color pop. You can do a money piece by itself to make it stand out or a money piece with any other type of balayage through the back. Just know that the more your balayage goes up your hair, the less the money piece will stand out.
You can do money pieces on anyone because they can be done in whatever ash blonde color you choose. They are usually lighter than the rest of your balayage, but it does not need to be if you want it to blend in a bit more. Money pieces also need to be touched up more often than the rest of your balayage because you will notice the regrowth more, but you don’t need to touch up the rest of your balayage when you touch up the money piece, saving you money.
Answer: A standard balayage can cost anywhere between $150 and $300 depending on what you need to be done and where you go. However, there are also partial balayages that can cost less than this and more intense balayages that will cost more than this. You may also need multiple sessions of balayage to get to your goal. You can ask a salon for a free consultation to get more of an exact quote.
Answer: Keeping blonde hair ashy can be quite a chore, with it needing a toner every four to six weeks. Blonde hair naturally wants to be gold, so it always finds its way back to that. However, you should only need to touch up your balayage every three to five months, so make sure you are only going in to have your hair retoned when the ash goes away.
Answer: The best way to keep your blonde balayage ashy at home is to use a purple shampoo. This is a shampoo with purple pigment that counteracts any gold tones that may be fighting their way through. It is a maintenance product and not a toning product, so your hair needs to be adequately toned to an ash blonde before using purple shampoo.
Answer: As with any color service done on your hair, there will be minimal damage done. However, if it is done correctly, it should not be a significant amount to where you will notice a massive difference in your hair. After getting a balayage, you should also use protein products, such as protein shampoo and a treatment mask, to ensure your hair stays healthy.
Answer: This is more of a personal preference question because both use the same product to achieve and can be done with the same colors. The real difference is balayage looks more lived-in and natural, whereas highlights give you more of an all-over color effect that is more piecey. Balayage is slightly more expensive than highlights, but personally, I like balayage more.
Should You Try Ash Blonde Balayage?
I think there is an ash blonde balayage out there for everyone, and you just need to figure out what you like and what is possible for your specific hair. For a couple of years, my go-to hair color was actually platinum balayage, and I’m always looking back at photos of myself, wondering if I should go back to it. Even though I had to keep up on toning it fairly regularly, it was one of the easiest colors I’ve ever had to maintain, and it made quite a statement with others.
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