Has this exasperating situation happened to you recently? You’re sitting in your colorist’s chair, finding a little refuge from the unrelenting heat, and you’re PLEADING with her to let you go blonde. You don’t care if it takes all day—Netflix can wait. But she won’t budge. She reminds you that you’re a brunette, and it would be too damaging to go that light in one visit.
We feel for you, girl. We’ve all had our hearts set on a look that a stylist or colorist talked us out of at the last minute. But summer’s still chugging along, which means there’s time for a healthy dose of golden-sunshine streaks. Whether you’re looking for something subtle or stark, we’ve collected 15 summery blonde color options for brunettes to keep you feeling fresh and light. Check ’em out below.
1. Long Curled Dark Brown Locks with Sunflower-Blonde Balayage
Beauty vlogger Casey Holmes scored big-time with this look. The sunny balayage applied to her dark hair is subtle—but not so subtle that you gloss right over it. The warm tone lights up her face, and her curled tendrils dance all the way down to her waist.
2. Rose-Gold/Pearl-Blonde Balayage for Spunky Medium Ash Brown Lob
Set aside the fact that this long-bob haircut is perfection, hitting at just the right length on this woman’s shoulders. Instead, we’ve got to address that styling and coloring. Those lively waves that curl at the bottom draw attention to the lavishly applied color, and the rose-tinted pearl blonde hue of the balayage makes an effective contrast against her medium ash-brown hair.
3. Subtle Pale-Golden-Blonde Balayage for Medium Warm Brown Hair
The application of this blonde balayage is subtle and soft, making the color look natural, sun-given. We love how this woman’s long-ish waves are also very natural looking: They say, “I rolled out of bed as gracefully as an ABT ballerina would,” rather than “I fought the curling iron and the curling iron won.”
4. Chrissy Teigen’s Dark-Ash-Brown Lob with Butterscotch-Blonde Balayage
Chrissy Teigen is a master of every domain she tackles: modeling, cooking, authoring a cookbook, marrying a hot soulful crooner. Now she’s got another achievement to add to that list: sporting the best hair of anyone, ever. Her wavy long bob looks incredible with buttery blonde balayage applied.
5. Dark Black-Brown Messy Long Hair with Tortoiseshell Blonde Highlights
This stunning color job gets referred to as tortoiseshell hair for its likeness to that eye-catching color pattern. Though not balayage, it fits well on this list for being a relatively low-key hair color job that a brunette can achieve in one appointment. These bright blonde highlights look particularly good against this woman’s wild, long, well-layered, super-dark-brown locks.
6. Long Wavy/Curly Espresso Brown Hair with Pale-Blonde Balayage
Oh, dear. This pretty number is almost too much for our sun-seared eyes to handle. You’ve got gorgeous long dark-brown hair, which is layered throughout and takes on a V shape as it descends down this woman’s back. You’ve also got lovely pale-blonde—almost platinum blonde—balayage coloring applied to the hair. So chic and perfect for these summer days, when just about everything seems to shimmer.
7. Wavy and Full Ash-Brown Hair with Pale Toffee Balayage
This *very* long bob is a great compromise for summer—not too long, not too short. If you’re interested in growing out your hair but need a trim, this cut just might be your salvation from the heat. As far as styling goes, this woman’s full waves and lazy part makes this the perfect hairstyle for a trip to the beach or a relaxed Saturday brunch.
8. Blonde and Cinnamon Balayage for Chocolate Brown Hair
This long, wavy mane could not be more dynamic: tons of rich color sprinkled throughout the chocolate-brown base, lots of waves crashing against each other. Almost makes us feel like we’re staring out from a Hawaiian beach, but that level of imagination would require a few more Mai Tais.
9. Strong Golden Blonde Balayage for Wavy Medium-Ash-Brown Hair
The golden blonde balayage applied to the ends of this woman’s medium ash-brown hair is “ugh pretty” (as in, “Ugh, why can’t my hair look like that?”). The colors complement each other well and blend seamlessly. Her waves are well-formed, which makes this look appropriate for more formal events, like a wedding or work cocktail party.
10. Black-Brown Wavy Mid-Length Hair with Honey Blonde Balayage
This woman’s wavy long bob is picture-perfect. Her black-brown base color slowly descends into a tawny, honey-blonde shade. This transition isn’t stark but slow and easy, as balayage applications tend to be. The blunt, barely-layered cut showcases the coloring fantastically.
11. Uber-Long Wavy Brown Hair with Blonde Balayage
This woman’s super-long hair is to-die-for, but that doesn’t mean just anyone can wear it at this length during these months. You have to know whether you can tolerate its bulk or whether it’ll drive you up a sweat-slicked wall. But her color is something we can all get behind. The blonde highlights are natural looking and unassuming.
12. Stark Cream/Rose-Gold Balayage for Dark Brown Hair
We’re digging this woman’s creamy, almost rosy blonde balayage against her natural deep, deep brown hair color. Though the ends are stark, the color is applied lightly closer to the roots, which results in a look that doesn’t call attention to itself like ombre styles tend to do. Those waves inject an epic amount of movement into her medium-long locks.
13. Curly Long Near-Black to Chestnut-Brown to Pale Blonde Hair
Those curls, that color! We couldn’t possibly pick which aspect of this hairstyle is our favorite—that’d be like picking a favorite child. But we will gush about it all: Her well-defined tendrils have so much body, while her color is incredibly dynamic (near-black roots with chestnut-brown and pale-blonde balayage).
14. Thick, Long, Espresso-Brown Hair with Flaxen-Blonde Balayage
These long, thick layers have an amazing amount of depth, in addition to their glorious volume and shine. There’s pale blonde at the ends, with lighter applications toward the middle of the hair, making it appear a medium-brown color. The cut, with its many layers, brings it all together.
15. Chrissy Teigen’s Dark-Ash-Brown Waves with Cornflower-Blonde Balayage
OK, last Chrissy Teigen pic, because she’s freaking gorgeous. Those thick waves, those long layers! Mama mia. Her colorist has given her more noticeable highlights around her face, but overall the color is subtle and low-key. No doubt this look will be the inspiration for many spur-of-the-moment trips to the salon.