Home / Hair Care / The Best Lightener for Balayage to Keep Your Hair Color in Tip-Top Shape

The Best Lightener for Balayage to Keep Your Hair Color in Tip-Top Shape


Balayage is a dream come true for us girls who cannot keep up with a regular visit to the salon for touch-ups. The way these sun-kissed highlights grow is more natural-looking and subtle that you don’t have to keep worrying about the backfire of the harsh stripe of the root line. And those vibrant strands show almost no signs of slowing down! That is not to say, however, that balayage doesn’t need decent maintenance. Because somewhere between your hair appointments, those highlights will eventually lose its color, as any regular hair dye will.

Luckily, a dull and brassy balayage is not a major beauty concern anymore, as it was back in the 70’s where the hair coloring technique was first developed. Today, there are selections of the best lightener you can go for, to keep your balayage on point and make it last longer. But before we get down to the aforementioned, here are some questions commonly asked about balayage.

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What is balayage and how is it done?

best lightener for balayage

Balayage is a highlighting technique that makes use of foil or caps to separate the strands of hair that will be colored. One thing that makes it unique from traditional highlighting is the use of the painting technique. In balayage, colorists use a freestyle motion to paint or sweep the color from your mid-lengths down to the tip using a brush and backing board, hence the name ‘balayage’ which means ‘to sweep’ in French. The roots of the hair are left untouched, so expect lesser upkeep.

Because the color is applied by hand, the transition between the deeper roots and light ends is more controlled and deemed fit. This results in a more gradual and natural looking transition as compared to ombre, another hair coloring style that is almost the same as balayage. Although balayage is gaining attraction just recently, the hair painting technique has long been used by French colorists back in the 1970s.

Do I have to be blonde to do balayage?

While blonde has been the traditional balayage color, the technique does not limit only to one shade. In fact, hues such as reverse, pearly, rose quartz, peach, blue and some other vivid balayage colors are trending right now. So whether you have brunette, brown or red hair, you can venture into the different shades of balayage.

Keep in mind, however, that the base of your hair color as wells as your color preferences will determine how many times you will do the highlighting session. Your hair might not lift that much on the first session so you might be in for a few salon visits to achieve your desired color.

How long does the color usually last?

The hair color usually lasts about 10 weeks depending on how strong is the hair color used. After a certain period, the highlights will start to lose its vibrancy or will fade into warm to copper tones.

Caring For Your Hair Color

Although it is low in maintenance, your balayage still deserves some attention. It is still important to continue consistent appointments to the salon for upkeep. In addition, pay attention to the factors that contribute to the dullness. Swimming in an open pool too often, for instance, will likely fade your highlights prematurely. The chlorine and salt water present in the pool, as well as UV rays (ıf you’re one of the many who likes swimming under the sun), are the biggest color- stealing culprits.

However, every hair color and style doesn’t mean to last, no matter how hard you try to maintain it. Of course, this speaks true for balayage. Simple hair care routines such as washing hair can cause the cuticle to open further, allowing the pigment particles to escape during the process.

Regardless, there are things you can do to make the most out of your balayage. Using the best lightener for balayage is vital to preserve the integrity of your hair color and create more precise and natural looking highlights. Keep reading to find out more.

How does the best lightener for balayage works?

hair highlights for balayageLighteners, as the name suggests, works to lighten hair. No, it’s not as simple as depositing new hair color, however, it works to break the artificial pigment up first before casting new color. If you apply it to your old highlights, it neutralizes the often brassy or warm tones.

Most lighteners for balayage may come with a hair developer that aids in the lightening process. It may require you to mix the two solutions or it may come as a ready-to-use solution. It can be also added to hair color to create a perfect balayage consistency and maximize its performance.

What’s on it?

Keep in mind that lighteners work to chemically alter your hair. So it’s fairly predictable that the product relies on chemicals to get the job done. Ammonia, for instance, works to lift the cuticles of your hair and makes way for color. It is commonly used alongside bleach (hydrogen peroxide) to deposit the artificial pigment. Plant-based ingredients such as essential oils may also be included to counteract a possible drying effect.

Depending on the strength of the product, it may lighten your hair 4 to 6 levels. Exactly how it will lift your hair color also depends on the shade of pre-existing hair color and how long it has been on your hair.

What is the difference between clay, cream, and oil lighteners?

The best lightener for balayage is offered in different forms, namely clay, cream, and oil. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to each. And to better understand which one’s right for you, let’s cut through the clutter, shall we?

Clay Lighteners: The Fast-Absorbent Type

Schwarzkopf BlondMe Bond Enforcing Premium Lightener 9+ Dust Free Powder
Schwarzkopf BlondMe Bond Enforcing Premium Lightener 9+ Dust Free Powder

The texture is of paste which consistency can be likened to toothpaste. Due to this makeup, clay lighteners will hold well and can be easily controlled to avoid overlapping with your existing balayage color. The presence of oxygen-releasing boosters alongside inert makes it possible for the substances to penetrate into the hair quickly and efficiently. This form may also be offered into a powder you need to mix with a solution to form a paste. However, powder versions lack or may not contain conditioning agents which result in drying of the hair. This can be easily mediated, however, by a good conditioner after the application.

Cream Lighteners: Easy-to-Apply

Wella Blondor Soft Blonde Cream Lighter Hair Dye
Wella Blondor Soft Blonde Cream Lighter Hair Dye

Hair lighteners in cream come in a very thick liquid that will not drip nor dry. The thick consistency gives more control when applying, making it a go-to lightener for first-timers. Cream lighteners are known for their conditioning agents that guard hair against the harshness of the chemicals. The formula is often infused with bluing agents (also recognized as drabbers) to tone down unwanted brassy or warm tones whilst refreshing color to your old balayage. On the flip side, the cream has bigger molecules and requires a longer time to penetrate into the hair shaft in comparison to other forms.

Oil Lighteners: The Mildest of All Types

Creme Oil Lightener
Creme Oil Lightener

The solution is based on oil, which is sky-high on lipid in addition to other moisturizing components, so expect a much milder formula. And because it has a thinner texture, mixing it with developers or lightening activators is easier. In addition, the texture also provides maximum control during application. But because the formula is not the strongest, it only adds temporary highlights.

Other Considerations

Additionally, lighteners for balayage may come in two basic formulations; on-the-scalp or off-the-scalp. The first one, as the name suggests is safe to apply on the scalp although slower working. The latter, on the other hand, has a stronger chemical concentration that may cause itching or burning sensation when it comes in contact with the scalp or skin. For this reason, reading packaging labels and instructions is a must to classify your product and use it accordingly. It is also important to do patch-testing to avoid possible allergic reactions.

What is the best lightener for balayage out there?

If you are in the market for the best lightener, it is important to pick one that is specially formulated for your desired hairstyle– the balayage. This doesn’t only help application easier, faster and more precise. The best lightener developed exclusively for balayage has special formulations that will help you better achieve your dream sun-kissed highlights. Here are our top product picks for the best lightener for balayage.

1. Oligo Professionnel Balayage Lightener BlacklightOligo Professionnel Balayage Lightener Blacklight

Award-winning lightener, best for accurate and precise freehand highlights

If you feel wary about the dry, brittle and limp side effects of highlighting, try Oligo lighteners. Their award-winning Blacklight Lightening System is 11 amino acids enriched with the moisture replenishing argan oil to counteract dryness and bathe your hair the nourishment it needed. The advanced technology also makes it possible to achieve a complete spectrum of vibrant colors, will lighten your hair up to 6 levels to be exact without the use of harsh chemicals like paraben and sulfate.

Oligo’s collection of lighteners are available in a dust-free balayage clay lightener, clay powder, and cream — all can be used without the foil. The cream version can lift hair up to 7 levels and be used for on and off scalp techniques.


  • Award-winning lightening system
  • Formulated with amino acids and argan oil
  • Caters to sensitive hair and scalp
  • Foil-free lightening method
  • Free from paraben, sulfate, and salt
  • 100 percent vegan


  • May need several applications to get the desired lift

2. Sunlights Professionnel Balayage Lightener

Sunlights Professionnel Balayage Lightener

For maximum lift, highly-favored by balayage artisans

Stylists worldwide including the celebrated balayage artist Candy Shaw raved about this state-of-the-art clay lightener. The magic lies from where it’s derived from — Kaolin Clay! This lightweight clay is sourced out from the weathering rocks that are naturally occurring in the soil, which unlike the sand-based clay lighteners is lower in pH and gentler on hair.

The Kaolin clay provides quality consistency and saturation perfect for painting those highlights while simultaneously conditioning hair for luster finish. It is coupled up with grapefruit essence to leave your hair a great smelling citrusy fragrance. The lightener can lift hair up to 7 levels, best for those who needed a maximum lift. It is engineered to work with any of the manufacturer’s developers and enhancers.


  • Made up of quality Kaolin Clay
  • Trusted balayage lightener by stylists
  • Provides up to 7 levels of lift
  • Smooth and vibrant finish
  • Excellent consistency
  • Grapefruit fragrance
  • Comes with an educational booklet


  • Doesn’t include enhancers and are separately sold

3. Pravana Pure Light Balayage Lightener

Pravana Pure Light Balayage Lightener

For those who want a perfect look touched by the sun, works best with natural blondes

This yet another great kaolin clay-based lightener coming from one of the leading manufacturers of hair color, Pravana. Unique to other traditional clay lighteners it has the inclusion of Rice Flour which doesn’t only create greater consistency but also tone and tighten hair. The proprietary blend of the kaolin clay and rice flour is what encapsulates the lightener inside, keeping it moist whilst creating an added protective film layer to allow air processing and section layering without the need for foil.

Another notable ingredient is a healing aloe vera included in Pravana’s Pure Light Balayage Activator technology, which serves to preserve the overall integrity of the hair during the process. A keratin Protein completes the key ingredients to strengthen and straighten hair while being lightened. To say the least, the formula has a perfect balance of active and natural ingredients to create a beautiful balayage result!


  • A blend of Kaolin Clay and Rice Flour
  • Protects hair during the process
  • With the benefits of aloe and keratin protein
  • Activators included
  • Easy to apply texture


  • Those with dark hair as a base may need several sessions

4. Wella Painting Balayage Lightener

Wella Painting Balayage Lightener

A clay that provides ease of spreadability, perfect for beginners

We get it. Open-air painting technique requires a certain skill, not to mention the precise sectioning of hair on the foil which could get a little bit messy. But no worries, this next product got you covered. Wella Painting Balayage Lightener is a clay lightener that when mixed with the pre-packaged dedicated developer, creates a hardened canvas for artists to have more freedom to place and express creativity without having to deal with the hassle of foil transfer.

It doesn’t have the negative side effects of ammonia, But the presence of kaolin, potassium persulfate, and other active ingredients gives a perfect chemical reaction that provides up to 6 levels of lightening. What’s more to like about this product, it’s economically priced for those who are looking for a decent lightener but on a tight budget.


  • Gives a more natural sun-kissed results
  • Perfect precision made easy
  • Ammonia-free
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Optimal consistency
  • No foils required


  • Lacks conditioning agents

5. J Beverly Hills Balayage Lightener

J Beverly Hills Balayage Lightener

It’s like your balayage lightener and hair treatment all-in-one!

This is another great kaolin clay lightener to stand by, created by one of the most sought-after celebrity stylist, Juan Juan. It has a well-rounded profile of nourishing ingredients such as Argan oil, a range of essential fatty acids and seaweed extracts that gives your hair nourishing treatment, much like treating it into a spa! The blend of nourishing ingredients is what encapsulates and coat the hair shaft to create an outer shell that doesn’t flake off. Your dry hair ends here!


  • Formulated by professional stylist Juan Juan
  • Sky-high in conditioning and soothing agents
  • Aids in moisture loss
  • Preserves the integrity of the hair
  • Have the least ammonia content possible


  • May not lift hair, pre-treated with strong chemicals

And the ‘Best Lightener for Balayage’ goes to… Oligo Professionnel Balayage Lightener Blacklight

It’s a close match among the bunch. They all have the perfect formula whether you’re after a lightener to give the oomph back to your dying balayage or just want something to help you achieve those gorgeous sun-kissed streaks. However, what gives Oligo Professionnel Balayage Lightener Blacklight an edge among its competitor is its advanced Black Lightening System that counteracts the negative side effects of chemicals in hair, thanks to a range of amino acid and quality Argan oil. The patented technology also gives you a high-end 6 to 7 levels of lightening without the use of paraben and sulfate. No wonder it has been awarded the ‘Best Highlighting System’ by Beauty Launchpad in 2016 and 2017!

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