Does balayage always use bleach? What’s the best bleach for dark or blonde hair?

gummy texture

Are you considering getting a balayage and want to know if you’ll have to bleach your hair?


It all depends on your current hair color and the balayage that you’re hoping to get.

  • If you have brown or black hair and you want a lighter balayage, you’re definitely going to have to bleach your hair
  • If you have blonde hair, then it won’t be necessary to bleach it. What you will need to do, though, is darken your roots.


What is popularly known as “balayage” is a bleaching technique.

 Doing a balayage without bleaching is like going to McDonalds and getting a hamburger without a hamburger. Who would do that?  


“Hello, sir. I’d like a Big Mac, but hold the burger, please.” Haha! Just thinking about it makes me laugh.


Getting a balayage without bleach is similar.

“Hello stylist, I’d like to get an ash blonde balayage, but I don’t want to bleach my hair.”

It just doesn’t make sense.


So, if you have dark hair and you want a lighter balayage, you’ll have to bleach your hair. And I have more bad news for you.

Depending on the color difference between your current hair color and the balayage you want, you might have to bleach it more than once.

If, for example, your hair is black and you want a light blonde balayage, you’ll need to do a minimum of three bleaching sessions.


Now, let’s suppose that you have blonde hair.

Can you get a balayage? Is it necessary to bleach your hair?


 Yes, you can get a balayage on blonde hair, and depending on the case, you might not need to bleach your hair. 


If your hair is light blonde, you can ask your stylist to darken your roots so you can avoid bleaching the ends.

But, technically speaking, that’s not a traditional balayage anymore. Maybe a better name for it would be “inverted balayage.”


Now I’d like to help you figure out how many bleaching sessions your hair will need to go through to get the balayage you’re hoping for.


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How many bleaching sessions will you need for your balayage if you have dark hair?

dyed hair brown

Let’s start with a more traditional balayage. From dark hair to a blonde balayage.


  • If your hair is dark brown or black and you want to get a balayage that’s somewhere on the light-blonde scale, you’ll need to have a minimum of three bleaching sessions.
  • If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a balayage that’s medium blonde, you’ll need a minimum of two bleaching sessions.
  • Now let’s say your hair is light brown, and you’re looking to get a light blonde balayage, you’ll only need one bleaching session.


I have blonde hair. Do I need to bleach my hair to get a balayage?

Like I said before, in this case, you shouldn’t need to bleach your hair.

If you’re looking to imitate the transition technique of balayage, you can ask your stylist to darken your hair’s roots.


 Now, if you have blonde hair and you want your ends to be lighter than they currently are, then you will have to bleach your hair.  


You don’t want to bleach your hair? Can you get a balayage without bleaching it?

If you don’t want to dye your hair, then I do have a solution for you. The good part about the technique I want to share with you is that it is a lot easier on your hair.


To explain how this solution works, we need to revisit the idea that we talked about in the beginning.

Balayage is, by definition, a bleaching technique.

 So, any technique that doesn’t use bleach, wouldn’t be a balayage anymore, per se. 

Is that clear?


So, instead of bleaching your hair, you can lighten your hair with dye until reaching blonde. Once you have blonde hair, you can darken the roots to achieve a balayage effect.

(NOTE: Remember that dyes have peroxide in them, which is what lightens your hair.)


  • Let’s say you have dark brown hair (3).
  • In January, you dye your hair brown. (5).
  • In February, you dye your hair medium blonde (7).

As you can see, you can lighten your hair two shades a month without bleaching it, just using dye.

Once you get to medium blonde, you can darken your roots to achieve a balayage effect.


 Of course, you might not need to go to the salon two or three months in a row. Maybe you go in January, and then you go back in May or June. You can also do it that way, depending on what you prefer. 


And there you have it.

A “balayage without bleach.”

Like we said before, technically, it’s not a balayage anymore, but the result will be very similar.



Like I always say, balayage is a delicate color technique.

  • If it’s done well, the results are spectacular.
  • But, if your stylist doesn’t do a good job, the results can be disastrous.


And to be completely honest, the process has a lot of small details that will affect the result in different ways.

That’s why the best thing you can do is leave your hair in the hands of a professional with experience.


 If you have a limited budget, then this technique might not be the best one for you, especially if you have dark hair, and you’re looking to get a light balayage. 

Remember that I said that you’d need two or three visits to the salon. And that can get expensive.


And now I’d like to know more about you and your hair.

Are you thinking about getting a balayage? What color?

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