Does balayage get lighter or darker with washing and time?

caramel balayage

  • Balayage will always get lighter as you wash your hair and as the days go by.
  • It’s because the hair expels the excess pigmentation with time. Also, part of your hair had to be bleached to do the balayage.
  • Although balayage eventually lightens, you could extend its duration by washing your hair less frequently with sulfate-free products, and avoiding exposure to the sun and heat tools.


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What to do right after balayage? What to do the days after?


I think I can guess where your concern is coming from. After all, I have years of experience in salons.

If you’ve just had your balayage done, you may feel two things:

  •  Your balayage has gone too dark,  and you wish it would lighten.
  •  Your balayage is too light,  and you fear it’ll turn platinum blonde.


In this scenario, the first thing I’ll tell you is to take it easy.

Sometimes, getting used to a makeover takes time. It’s like when you move to a new house: you have to get used to the neighbors, the noises, and the new spaces.


But what I can assure you about your balayage is:

  • If your balayage is too dark, don’t worry. After a few washes, you’ll notice it lighter.
  • If your balayage was too light, and you wanted it darker, things won’t get any better. In this case, it’ll also get lighter after a few days.


And it all has to do with the balayage technique.


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As the days and the washes go by, the balayage loses pigmentation and lightens.

ash balayage

Put like that, it sounds terrible. But it’s not.


If you regularly get a balayage done, you probably know that it’s a technique that takes some maintenance.

Later, I’ll tell you how you can extend the duration of your balayage.

However, now I want to focus on the issue that concerns you the most.

And the issue is why balayage gets lighter as the days go by.


For this, you need to understand what the balayage technique is all about.

Did you know that balayage was born in France in the mid-1970s?


I really don’t know why it was born there.

What I can think of is that the French were a bit envious of the sun-kissed girls in California.

They managed to wear down the hair color to achieve the effect of hair lightened by the sun and seawater in the mid-lengths and ends with the balayage technique.


But you’re neither in California nor in France.

And to achieve this  coloring technique that mimics the sun’s wear and tear on your hair color,  your colorist performed two coloring processes:

  • Bleaching
  • Dye application.


During bleaching, your colorist separated your hair into several layers to apply bleach. After the exposure time of the bleach, she rinsed your hair.

So, those sections were already lighter in color because your hair bleached out the color during the bleaching.

Of course, it didn’t stop there.


After rinsing, your colorist dried your hair and applied the dye to smooth out the color of the balayage.

And then, the magic happened. You left the salon completely renewed.


 For the first few days, your hair will continue to absorb the dye pigments.  This is the time known as color settling.

This is why you may notice that your balayage is darker.


But  after three or four washes, the color of your balayage will start to change. It’ll start to expel the excess color that it couldn’t absorb.

And then, your balayage will be lighter.


Eventually, after fifteen days, your balayage will most likely be up to a level lighter.

But this is not the only thing that influences your balayage to look lighter.


Remember what your stylist did first to achieve the balayage?

That’s right! She bleached your hair, which lighten its color.



As a consequence,   the balayage will get lighter over the days and washes. 


Is there anything you can do to prevent the balayage from fading?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Balayage will always fade.

But what you can do is to take care of the color so that it lasts longer. And that’s what I’ll talk about next.


How to care for balayage for the color to take longer to fade

When you change your hair color with any technique, whether it’s balayage or just dyeing, you need to make some changes to your hair care routine.

Guess what one of the most important changes is?


If you want the balayage to take longer to lighten, decrease the frequency of washing.

ph balanced shampoo before keratin

 You should avoid washing your hair every day. 

How often should you wash it?


At least every 48 hours.

And that brings us to the second tip.


Wash your hair with sulfate and paraben-free products.

clarifying shampoo to wash hair

Sulfates and parabens are color-corrosive chemicals. This means that they remove the color pigmentation in your hair.

Therefore, if you use any product with sulfates, whether it’s a shampoo or a moisturizing mask, your balayage will look lighter.


Avoid the sun and don’t abuse heat tools.

do not expose the balayage to the sun

Every time you expose your hair to external heat sources, such as the sun or a flat iron, your hair’s natural moisture evaporates.

The same happens with water molecules, where the dye pigments fade as well. 

Therefore, your balayage will become lighter.


How can you protect your balayage?


If you follow these recommendations, you’ll notice that your balayage will take longer to lighten. Also, you’ll be able to maintain the color you had at the salon for longer.



Balayage will always lighten as the days go by and as you wash your hair.

To care for your balayage, wash your hair less frequently using sulfate and paraben-free products.

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