Can You Get A Balayage Without Bleach? (Explained)

Balayage highlights can give your hair a completely new look, but can you get a balayage without bleach? Yes, you can and in this guide, I’ll explain just how you can achieve beautiful highlights without the damage of bleach. 

You can get a balayage coloring technique without using bleach. While balayage is typically a lightening of the ends of the hair with a gradient transition to create a flawless waterfall look, darker hair can be lightened without bleach, or you can even use a distinct color. 

What is a Balayage?

Balayage is a hair coloring technique in which the hair is painted starting from between a third of the way or halfway down the hair to create a dark-to-light gradient. 

It differs from highlights as no foils are used. Instead, a brush is used to gently pull color throughout small sections of the hair and then saturate the ends with the same color. 

Balayage has become an incredibly fashionable coloring technique because it creates a natural-looking highlighted effect that consumers love. 

So instead of opting for chunky or stripy highlights to add depth and color to your hair, balayage might just be the right technique for you. 

Pros and Cons of Balayage

A woman getting her hair bleached at the salon

As with any hair coloring technique, there are of course pros and cons. In this section, we will quickly outline the advantages and drawbacks of opting for balayage so you can confidently decide whether this is the tactic for you.

Pros of Balayage

Balayage is typically better for your hair than highlighting. Because balayage does not use foils or heat, your hair is less likely to dry out or become damaged. 

It’s great for gray hair. With the brush, a stylist can specifically hit your gray hairs while creating a beautiful, natural gradient to your natural coloring. 

Balayage makes your hair look thicker. This tactic creates a significant amount of dimension in your hair, making it look thicker and more luscious.

The style will last for three to four months. Because balayage color does not come all the way to the roots of your hair, regrowth does not look as obvious and you can wait several months before returning to the salon for another coloring. 

Balayage is safe for pregnant women. Since balayage does not touch the scalp but only the hair, it is actually available to pregnant women or those of you with color allergies or sensitive scalps. 

Balayage can be done without bleach. As we will learn in the following section, you do not need bleach to balayage your hair. Bleach can be extremely damaging, so creating a beautiful color without it is a great option to keep your hair healthy.

Cons of Balayage 

While the disadvantages of balayage are not excessive, they are still important to understand. 

Balayage is one of the most expensive coloring options. This solution to highlighting is time-consuming as the stylist painstakingly selects small sections of the hair to brush with color before fully saturating the ends. Because of the time frame, balayage is typically about $50 – $100 more expensive than highlights. 

Your natural hair color is still visible. If you do not want to see any of your natural hair color after dyeing, balayage is not for you. 

Dark shadows are needed to create the look. Even if you choose to have a lighter color for your balayage treatment, the darker natural coloring will be prevalent so you will not have an all-over light hair color. 

Balayage can cause breakage.  Even though technically balayage is slightly safer than traditional highlights, it is still a coloring process and can cause breakage and damage to your hair. 

Can You Get A Balayage Without Bleach?

close up of a woman's hair which is colored balayage

You can balayage your hair without using bleach. 

In fact, there are two different balayage processes that skip bleach entirely and still leave you with hair that is a gorgeous new color:

  • Use a color lifting technique.
  • Choose a bold color. 

In order to make sure your hair turns out exactly as you were imagining, it’s important to know what each of these options means and how they will make your hair look. 

Color Lifting Techniques

High lift hair color is a permanent dye that will lighten your hair without using bleach. Technically, it “lifts” the natural pigment in your hair and adds the dye to the pigment-less strands. 

This option works great for balayage as it will add another layer of natural dimension as some of the hair will respond more strongly to the color than others. 

The act of lifting your hair color is usually explained in shades, so you can opt to use a high lift color that changes your natural hair color from one to many shades lighter. 

Because there is no bleach, the lightning is not as extreme. 

So if you are looking to change your hair color from black to blonde, hair-lifting colors won’t work. 

But if you simply want to lighten the natural color to a caramel, dirty blonde, or any similar shade, it will certainly do the trick. 

While color-lifting dyes do not have bleach, they still have chemicals that could damage your hair over time. However, they are far less aggressive and are less likely to cause visible breakage. 

Choose a Bold Color

It’s a common misconception that balayage only means lightening your hair. In fact, the technique simply means blending color throughout the hair naturally with a brush, and any color will do. 

No matter what your hair color is, you can use balayage to create a beautiful two-tone color throughout with dimension and depth without any lightning at all. 

Some of the most popular colors for balayage at the moment are deep blues, purples, violets, and reds for dark brown or black hair. 

Light pinks, corals, lavender, and even fun oranges can look great in blonde hair. 

Or if you want to get really funky, choose a bold primary or neon color.

Final Thoughts

Blonde model looking straight ahead in front of a green background

So, can you get a balayage without bleach? You definitely can. 

In fact, you can still lighten your hair with color-lifting dyes, or go bold with a color balayage. 

Hopefully, you now understand what the balayage technique actually is, what it will look like, and how to get this alluring natural highlighted or colored look without bleach. 

Of course, balayage is an advanced hair coloring method, and we really don’t recommend trying to do it yourself unless you are a professional. 

But don’t worry, almost every stylist these days is an accomplished balayage artist, so you can confidently book your appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ombre compared to balayage?

As you know, balayage paints the hair with a brush in natural sections to create depth as it gently becomes lighter or richer in color towards the bottom. Ombre hair coloring also leaves the roots natural, but has a medium color in the center sections and then a rich color at the ends, creating an intense gradient. 

Is bleach really bad for your hair?

The unfortunate answer is yes, bleach is quite bad for your hair. It damages the internal structure and can lead to breakages and dry brittle hair. 

How long does a balayage appointment take?

A partial, or soft balayage typically takes about 45-90 minutes, whereas a full head balayage can take anywhere between 1.5 to 3 hours. 


Balayage: With VS Without Bleaching


Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.