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All things London & Natural Hairdressing

Balayage: A Complete Guide for Short Hair

Balayage, an exquisite hair colouring technique, has been ruling the world of hair fashion for quite some time. While you may have seen a plethora of stunning balayage looks on longer locks, you might be wondering if it's possible to achieve the same results on shorter hair. Well, the answer is 'yes', with a few caveats.

From pixie cuts to bob hairstyles, balayage can work its magic on short hair too. In this comprehensive guide, we unveil the secrets of balayage and highlights for short hair and how you can achieve an eye-catching look with minimal effort.

balayage on short hair

Table of contents

What is Balayage?

Balayage, a French word meaning 'to sweep' or 'to paint', is a freehand painting technique that creates a sun-kissed, natural-looking hair colour. Unlike traditional highlighting methods that use foils or caps, balayage involves painting the colour onto the hair, resulting in softer and more blended gradients of colour.

Balayage vs Highlights

While balayage and highlights both lighten the hair, the techniques and results are different. Highlights involve sectioning off hair and lightening it with foils or a cap, resulting in uniform, evenly spaced streaks of colour from root to tip. On the other hand, balayage offers a more natural, sun-kissed look with colour that's more concentrated at the ends and lighter at the roots.

Is Balayage Suitable for Short Hair?

Whilst certain unique effects can only be achieved on longer hair, balayage can be beautifully adapted to short hair. In fact, balayage on short hair can create an enchanting blend of colours that add depth and dimension to your style. The key lies in choosing the right colourist who can apply the dye in a way that complements the length and texture of your hair.

balayage on short hair

Balayage Techniques for Short Hair

Balayage techniques for short hair include face-framing highlights, root smudging, and subtle lightening of the ends. The specific method depends on the desired look, your hair type, and your hair's natural colour.

Face-Framing Highlights

These help to accentuate your facial features and add depth to your hairstyle. The highlights are placed around the face, usually starting a few inches from the root.

face framing highlights

Root Smudging

This technique involves applying a darker dye at the roots and blending it into the lighter highlights. This creates a seamless transition from the roots to the ends.

roots smudging on short hair

Subtle Lightening of Ends

Lightening the ends of your hair can add a touch of dimension and movement to your style. This technique is perfect for those who want a subtle change without committing to a full head of highlights.

lightening on ends on short hair

Balayage Colour Ideas for Short Hair

Blonde Balayage on Short Hair

Blonde balayage on short hair offers a sun-kissed, beachy look. You can opt for a warm blonde balayage, butter cream blonde balayage, or ash blonde balayage depending on your skin tone and personal preference.

Brown Balayage on Short Hair

For those with brown hair, a soft brown or rich brown balayage can add depth and shine to your locks. This look is particularly stunning on wavy or curly hair.

caramel balayage

Dark Balayage Short Hair

Dark balayage on short hair can create a striking contrast. Opt for barely-there balayage or dark ash balayage for a subtle yet impactful look.

balayage on short hair

Tips for Keeping Balayage on Short Hair Healthy

Balayage requires careful maintenance to keep your hair healthy and the colour vibrant.

  • Hydrate: Regularly hydrate your hair with a moisturising hair mask to maintain the colour and prevent breakage.

  • Protect from the Sun: Use UV filter hair care products to prevent colour fade from sun exposure.

  • Limit Heat Styling: Try to minimise the use of heat styling tools and always apply a heat protectant before styling.

  • Regular Toning: Be prepared to visit your salon every 3-4 months for touch-ups to keep the colour fresh.


While balayage and highlights generally work better on long hair, they can also create stunning results on short hair. By choosing the right colourist and following the proper maintenance routine, you can flaunt a gorgeous balayage hairstyle that not only enhances your natural beauty but also adds a dash of glamour to your persona.

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