27 Balayage Ideas For Short Hair, From Rich Tones to Playful Pastels

27 Balayage Ideas For Short Hair, From Rich Tones to Playful Pastels

Blogger Aimee Song looks at the camera with a short balyage bob

@stephengarrison / Instagram

When it comes to hair coloring techniques, approaches—and their intended effects—can run the gamut from barely there babylights to gradual ombré to full-head dye jobs. On the more low-maintenance end of the hair color spectrum, you’ll find balayage. A French term that means “sweeping,” balayage involves hand-painting on highlights to create a relaxed, soft gradation of color that delivers lived-in, multi-dimensional effects. Best of all, the technique requires little maintenance, allowing your natural color to grow out without any harsh demarcation lines.

And while balayage is a favorite among those with long, flowing locks, it’s just as stunning on shorter lengths, enhancing the natural movement and texture. Don’t believe us? Keep scrolling for 27 screenshot-worthy balayage hair ideas for short hair.

01 of 27

Lived-In Highlights

Lived-in brown balayage hair with a lob cut.


According to celebrity colorist and Redken expert Tracey Cunningham, one of the major benefits of balayage on short hair is that it requires less time in your colorist’s chair at the salon. Because balayage is meant to give that lived-in look, it takes less time to achieve and requires far fewer touch-ups.

02 of 27

Caramel Mocha

Caramel mocha colored balayage on short hair.


Giving hair a two- or three-dimensional look with contrast, like these caramel mocha highlights, adds visual volume and depth to the hair, says celebrity hairstylist Olivia Thompson. This can be especially helpful for shorter styles, particularly on fine hair.

03 of 27

Warm Dimensional Brunette

Subtle dimensional brunette balayage highlights.


To achieve a soft, dimensional look, colorists hand-paint highlights from the mid-lengths to the ends. It’s important that the color isn’t too close to the root, says Cunningham; otherwise, it can look like an all-over color application.

04 of 27

Baby Brown Balayage

A brown, wavy, balayage lob

@stephengarrison / Instagram

Most people mistake balayage as a ‘look,’ but it’s actually a painting technique. That’s why darker hues, like this baby brown, can sometimes be mistaken for traditional highlights.

05 of 27

Ombré-Style Balayage

An ombre-esque blonde bayalage bob

@ariel_hauck / Instagram

A more textbook use of balayage is for an almost-ombré, sun-kissed effect along the hair, as seen above. Cunningham says the technique is a great way to achieve that natural, beachy look.

06 of 27

Dirty Blonde

Dirty blonde balayage on short hair.


Balayage is a favorite among those with short hair because it gives cuts more movement and dimension. It also helps enhance the natural texture of shorter styles, creating a customized and chic look that will grow out naturally.

07 of 27

Face-Framing Butterscotch

Face-framing butterscotch balayage on a bob haircut.


Thompson says balayage is a great way to highlight someone's most beautiful features—and these face-framing butterscotch pieces certainly prove that.

08 of 27

Ash Blonde Brunette

A fluffy, ashy bob with balayage

@camouflageandbalayage / Instagram

According to Thompson, balayage helps create a seamless transition from roots to end, making it the perfect choice for a low-maintenance, high-impact hair color.

09 of 27

Caramel Pixie Cut

Caramel highlights on a pixie cut.


While balayage requires less maintenance than a traditional dye job, it’s not completely work-free. Cunningham suggests watching for brassier tones and scheduling an in-salon gloss when they appear. This will help keep the hair looking more natural and sun-kissed.

10 of 27

Tortoiseshell Blonde

Tortoise-shell blonde balayage on a natural afro.


Balayage creates a light, natural effect, which is particularly helpful with shorter styles and for those looking to enhance their look.

11 of 27

Fire Cracker Brunette

Firecracker red balayage on brown hair.


Even with a less traditional shade, like this firecracker red-orange hue, balayage helps naturally weave the color into the hair.

12 of 27

Sun-Kissed Ginger Snap

Beach-kissed ginger hair cut in a bob.


Balayage is a great way to create a one-of-a-kind cut and color—because of how the dye is swept across the hair, no two balayage jobs are exactly alike.

13 of 27

Golden Balayage

Golden toned balayage on short hair.


We love how the golden hues here complement and brighten the skin. The balayage technique allows for a more lived-in, sun-kissed effect rather than streaky stripes.

14 of 27

Brown-Blonde Fade

Brown-blonde balayage on coily hair

@haircolorkilla / Instagram

Utilizing multiple hues, balayage can help enhance a shorter style by adding visual interest and emphasizing natural texture.

15 of 27

Millenial Pink Tones

Baby pink highlights on blonde hair.


Balayage can also be a great low-commitment way to try out a more daring color, like a pop of pink, before agreeing to a full-on dye job.

16 of 27

Sunny Butterscotch Brunette

Butterscotch brunette highlights on a bob cut.


Cunningham says a shorter cut with balayage can be especially great in Southern California summer climates—the effortless effect will last through beach days, outdoor workouts, and the like.

17 of 27

Sand and Pearl Brunette

Sand and Pearl balayage on a brown base.


Balayage can also help contrasting hues come together in harmony. This stunning example features a slew of tones from sandy, pearl-blonde shades to darker brunette hues. The result is a swirl that evokes the natural effects of the sun.

18 of 27

Pastel Unicorn

Pastel unicorn balayage.


A pastel balayage offers a more sophisticated way to play with color than an entire head. Given that these colors can be a bit more high maintenance, Thompson suggests using a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for damaged, color-treated hair, like the Joico Defy Damage Shampoo and Conditioner ($45.69).

19 of 27

Two-Toned Balayage

Two-toned balayage on a short haircut.


A melted effect, like the one seen above, provides natural regrowth without a noticeable line of where the dye job starts and ends; the new, darker hair will blend into balayage seamlessly. That means you can wait more time between salon visits, extending your style by months.

20 of 27

Golden Touch

Mousy brown bob.


You don’t have to go full-on blonde to create a beachy look. By weaving subtle golden tones into darker brown hues, you can achieve a just-got-back-from-vacation effect all year round.

21 of 27

Sun-Kissed and Swooped

Swooped, sunkissed balayage hair

@haircolorkilla / Instagram

High-contrast shades work particularly well with the balayage technique since the placement feels so natural.

22 of 27

Kiss From a Rose

Brown balayage with a rose colored overlay.


The subtle ombré effect of this rose-y balayage means the grow-out phase will be a breeze since any new growth will seamlessly transition into the natural color.

23 of 27

Choppy Chestnut

Choppy chestnut balayage.


A chestnut-y, burnt caramel color is always on trend—plus, it adds some serious oomph factor to a blunt-cut bob.

24 of 27

Honeycomb Hive

Honeycomb hive haircut.


By sweeping color across the crown, balayage helps add movement and body to shorter cuts. It's the perfect way to avoid that post-chop regret.

25 of 27

Hollywood Golden Blonde

Hollywood golden blonde hair.

@haircolorkilla / Instagram

Balayage offers an opportunity to ease the hair into a lighter tone without the intense, immediate damage. For example, this Hollywood golden blonde hue can be built up over time or pared back as the client sees fit.

26 of 27

Peaches and Cream

Peach cream balayage on short hair.


Rosy metallic shades have been popping up all over the place. They take on a peachy effect when woven through bright blonde hair.

27 of 27

Piece-y Bronde

Short, piece-y bronde hair viewed from behind

@johnnyramirez / Instagram

We've always been fans of bronde balayage shades to brighten up brunette hair and tone down blonder hues for a more subtle, natural effect. With the balayage technique, you can achieve a naturally sun-kissed pattern that feels easy and low maintenance.

More Beauty


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply