Best lightener for balayage

5 Best Lightener For Balayage 2023 | Why Experts Say Clay Is Better

If you want to attempt a balayage at home, you’ll need a good lightener for balayage hair colouring in either clay or powder formulas.

For those of you who live under a rock, a balayage is a type of hair coloring technique that removes harsh lines of demarcation from the different shades of color on your locks.

So the lighter highlights on your hair blend in seamlessly with the rest of the darker locks, giving a gradual effect.  

And to achieve the perfect balayage look, you need to keep two things in mind: the right application method and the right products.

Now I can’t really help you with the application, as that depends on your stylist. But what I can help you with is selecting the right lightener for balayage.

These hair lightening products give your balayage the perfect seamless color application.

I tested these products myself with some help from my team and here’s how it went. 

Best Lighteners For BalayageBest ForType Of Formula
Pravana Pure Light Balayage LightenerLighter Hair ColorsPowder (On-Scalp)
Pulp Riot Clay LightenerThin, Damaged HairClay (On-Scalp)
Wella Color Charm Powder LightenerThick, Dark-Colored HairPowder (Off-Scalp)
Clairol BW2 Hair Powder LightenerVirgin, Unprocessed HairPowder (On-Scalp)
Scruples Balayage Power Blonde Clay LightenerDry HairClay (On-Scalp)

How I tested the best lightener for balayage?

Before I get down to the reviews, here are the top 3 parameters that I tested the balayage lighteners for. And then I also ranked them on a scale of 1-5 to make things easier for you. 

  • Lightening Power: Firstly, I checked how well the lighteners helped in removing color pigments from hair.
  • Gentleness on Hair: I also took care to see if the products were too harsh or left hair damaged or dry.
  • Formula: Another important factor I considered was the formula – whether the lighteners were clay, creme or powder-based, and how well these formulas worked.

Top Lightener For Balayage

Why Clay Lightener Is Better For A Balayage

When it comes to doing a balayage, there’s a big difference between using clay lightener compared to bleach. Clay lightener works in a much gentler way, with no risk of damage to your hair, faster processing times and better results.

Unlike bleaching, clay lightener will not damage or weaken your hair. Bleaching can be harsh on the hair, causing it to become dehydrated, brittle and prone to breakage.

It can also drain the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and unmanageable. Clay lightener, on the other hand, preserves your hair’s natural moisture and oils, leaving it in optimal condition. Not only does this make it easier to get the desired colour, but it also helps to ensure that your hair is healthy and well maintained.

Clay lightener can also lift up to 5 levels within a shorter period of time compared to bleach. When using bleach, it is important to keep an eye on the developing colour, as leaving it too long can cause irreversible damage. Clay lightener, however, is much kinder to hair and allows you to get the desired results without the worries of overprocessing.

Balayage is all about creating a seamless and natural look, which is best achieved with clay lightener. It is not just the lack of damage that makes it the go-to product for balayage but also the precise, precise application that clay lightener provides.

Bleaching can result in a streaky and unnatural look, while clay lightener allows you to get the exact colour desired while still maintaining the natural colouring.

When it comes to balayage, clay lightener is the obvious choice. Not only is it gentler on the hair, but it is also quicker and more precise, resulting in a seamless, natural look. Not only does this keep your hair healthy and vibrant, but it also allows for a better balayage outcome, making it the superior lightening product.

is clay lightener better for balayage
Source: Instagram@carlyghair_

What To Consider Before Choosing A Lightener For Balayage?

When it comes to choosing the right lightener for balayage hair, there are a few factors to consider. Primarily, you should be looking for a lightener that is strong enough for the job, but gentle enough not to damage the hair.

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Suitability For Balayage

First and foremost, you should make sure that you are selecting a lightener that is suitable for balayage. There are several types of lighteners, so you want to make sure that the particular one you are choosing is meant for the job you have in mind.

Many standard lightening products are not strong enough for balayage work, and some can even be too strong and cause breakage. If you’re unsure which type of lightener to choose, ask your stylist for advice.

Strength of Ingredients and Formula

The second factor to consider is the composition of the lightener. In particular, you’ll want to look at the ingredient list and make sure that the product is free of anything that might cause irritation or damage to the hair.

There should not be any ammonia or other potentially irritating ingredients in your lightener, and ideally it should be as natural as possible. Some organic options are available and are generally a good choice for those looking for a gentler lightener.

Type of Hair

The type of hair being lightened is also a key factor to consider when selecting a lightener. Different lighteners work differently on different types of hair, so it’s important to choose one that is designed specifically for the type of hair you are dealing with.

As an example, if you’re working with coarser hair, it will usually take a heavier-duty lightener than if you were working with finer hair.

The End Color

Finally, you should also take the color that you want to achieve into consideration. Different lighteners will produce different levels of lift, so you need to make sure that the one you choose is capable of lifting the hair to the desired shade. Using the wrong lightener can result in too much lightening, causing damage to the hair, or the wrong shade.

Look for a lightener that is made specifically for balayage and that contains only natural, gentle ingredients. Then consider the type of hair and the lightening results you’re hoping for. With a little bit of research and a little bit of knowledge, you can choose the perfect lightener for your balayage hair and achieve stunning results.

How To Use A Clay Lightener For Balayage

If you’re looking to bleach hair with a clay lightener, it’s important to learn how to do it right. Here’s how you apply the clay lightener to bleach your hair.

Firstly, get the ratio right. Get a plastic bowl and a comb brush and mix in the clay powder with the developer.

The amount of developer you add depends on the thickness and texture of your hair. As a general rule I use the ratio 1 part lightener to 1.5 parts developer when creating the paste for lightening hair.

A simple way to check if you have got the consistency right is to up turn the bowl containing the developer paste. If the paste doesn’t fall or drip down and stays stuck to the bowl, you’ve got it right.

The next step is to apply the clay lightener to your tresses. I prefer using a comb brush to both mix and apply the lightener paste as it’s easier. You also lose less product this way as you don’t have to scrape it off a mixing brush.

I don’t like using brush with bristles like some stylists do and use a paintbrush like model or a comb brush to apply it on the hair. This gives the hair the natural “balayage” look where the highlights color isn’t applied evenly but in gradual, natural-looking way.

What I love about clay lighteners is that you can buildup the bleach to increase the lift levels. So after the application stage, you can add more paste to make hair lighter. Or you can leave it be.

Just make sure you keep the lightener on the hair wet as clay lighteners stop lifting when they dry. However, they dry from the outside in (the inner layer of lightener might still be working on the hair as it’s wet, but still appear dry from the outside). So you have to be careful and keep a close eye on the lighteners.

I reviewed some of the best lightener for balayage after using it on some sections of my hair. Here’s how it went. 

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Pravana Pure Light Balayage Lightener

Type of Lightener – Powder

Who It’s Best For – Straight to Wavy Hair, Medium to Thick Hair

Best lightener for balayage

I first tried out the Pravana Pure Ligt Lightner for balayage hair and I wasn’t disappointed. 

My first choice when it comes to bleaching products has always been powder-based products, so Pravana was pretty easy for me to use.

I just want to warn you that it doesn’t work well with a 10 Developer Creme. So you have to use it with only a 20-40 developer. 

But that’s the only issue I could find with this lightener honestly. It lifted my hair upto 3 levels in one application and there wasn’t any yellowness.

You might have to do another application if you have very dark brown or black hair. 

Of course, bleaching products are not known for being mild on your hair, but I liked that the Pravana lightener tries to make an effort by adding ingredients like hydrolyzed keratin which helps control the amount of damage.

There was minimal brassiness, but I still used a hair toner after using this lightener, just to get that perfect white-blonde color. I highly recommend it. 


  • Minimal damage as the clay formula doesn’t damage cuticles
  • Doesn’t make bleached hair too yellow or brassy
  • No strong fumes as it’s a powder


  • Needs to be used with certain developers 

My Ratings:

  • Lightening Power: 4.5/5
  • Gentleness on Hair: 4/5
  • Formula: 4/5

Pulp Riot Clay Lightener

Type of Lightener – Clay

Who It’s Best For – People with damaged hair, Amateur hair colorists

balayage clay lightener

I know I said I always swear by powder bleaching products, but someone recently suggested clay lighteners to me, so I had got the Pulp Riot Clay lightener to try it out.

And boy was I in shock! The clay lighteners are so much easier to work with. I always thought that powder lighteners like the Pravana give you more precise hair lightening. 

But you can build-up this clay lightener in a way you can’t really do for powders.  

I also dries differently as it hardens outside but keeps the inside (hair shaft) wet, so more bleaching product is absorbed into the hair. 

Also, the biggest issues with using balayage lighteners is ‘how to keep the bleach from getting on the other sections of hair”? But this clay lightener makes things so easy as it doesn’t bleed or transfer to other hair strands.

And it wasn’t as difficult to use a clay lightener as I thought it would be. You can adjust the consistency easily and customize it to suit your hair type.

The Pulp Riot lightener didn’t dry out my hair as much as the Wella Color Charm did. And the hair strands I used it on don’t seem that damaged either.

So a clay lightener like Pulp Riot is also good for your hair integrity.  


  • Easy to get the right consistency
  • Absorbs better than most clay lighteners
  • Can be build-up to lift hair more
  • Doesn’t damage hair like other products


  • None

My Ratings:

  • Lightening Power: 4/5
  • Gentleness on Hair: 5/5
  • Formula: 5/5

WELLA Color Charm Powder Lightener & Balayage Lightener 

Type of Lightener – Powder

Who It’s Best For – People with thick/un-damaged hair who want a quick fix

clay lightener vs bleach

Listen, I have a sensitive scalp. So I was kind of scared to use this product as it specifies that it’s an off-scalp formula.

Now an off-scalp formula is one that isn’t suitable for skin contact as it can lead to itching, rashes and irritation in sensitive skin and scalp types. AKA me! 

But I tried it on the lower ends of my hair with (gloves on of course), and I found it to be extremely powerful. 

I used it with a 20 developer and left it on for almost an hour (<60 minutes) and I could see my brown hair looking lighter than ever.

It did leave a bit of brasiness, more than other powder bleaches like the Pravana lightener did. But I fixed it with a hair toner.

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While it’s powerful and can lift your hair upto 6 levels on first application, it’s strength is partly due to the high concentration of bleaches. 

So use it if you want a quick lightening session and expect nothing more. 


  • Lifts hair upto 6 levels in under a hour
  • Ammonia-free
  • Very affordable 


  • Can irritate sensitive scalp and skin
  • Dries out hair and leaves it brittle
  • Leaves hair brassy after bleaching

My Ratings:

  • Lightening Power: 5/5
  • Gentleness on Hair: 3/5
  • Formula: 3.5/5

Clairol Professional BW2 Hair Powder Lightener

Type of Lightener – Powder

Who It’s Best For – Thick Hair, Virgin Hair

best balayage products

I use Clairol hair dye all the time. So when I saw this BW2 hair powder lightener by their brand, I just had to try it. 

This is perhaps the strongest of the bleaching products on this list. Yes, even more so than Wella. 

And this was surprising to me because unlike Wella, this is an on-scalp formulation. So it’s (apparently) safe for use on scalp and on your roots.

While it did not do any damage on my scalp, my hair was another story. I think a few strands actually fell out.

So unless you have virgin hair (never been chemically processed or colored before) I suggest you use a milder powder bleach like Pravana or a clay lightener like Pulp Riot. 


  • Very powerful 
  • Works well with either 10, 20, 30 developer
  • Lifts hair in a short amount of time
  • Safe for on-scalp use
  • Minimal brassiness 


  • Damages hair
  • Leaves hair dry

My Ratings:

  • Lightening Power: 5/5
  • Gentleness on Hair: 2/5
  • Formula: 3.5/5

Scruples Balayage Power Blonde Clay Lightener

Type of Lightener – Powder

Who It’s Best For – Dry hair/Damaged hair

Now I was looking for a lightener for balayage that was powerful like the Wella powder bleach but not as destructive on your hair.

clay lightener for hair

So while searching for such a product, I came across the Scruples Balayage Powder Blonde Clay Lightener.

I was intrigued by the ingredients list that boasted of stuff like kaolin clay, keratin and organic Patua oil. 

And I could see their effect on my tresses! My hair didn’t feel as terrible as it did after using Clairol or Wella. 

But…was the bleach powerful enough to lift my hair in a few minutes. Nope. 

So when selecting a good lightener for your balayage, you should decide what you want most.

If you have virgin hair, a bleach like Wella or Clairol won’t be too damaging, especially if you follow it up with proper hair care. 

But if you have colored or bleached hair before, I suggest going for milder options like the Scruples Balayage Clay lightener as it doesn’t damage your hair.


  • Doesn’t damage hair
  • Doesn’t bleed or transfer to other hair sections


  • Not very powerful
  • Suited to lighter hair colors

My Ratings:

  • Lightening Power: 3.5/5
  • Gentleness on Hair: 5/5
  • Formula: 5/5

The balayage is so in trend right now. But if you want yours to look great, you got to have the right products like these best lighteners for balayage hair.  

If you want to lighten your balayage at home, these bleaching products are the best ones to try. 

I hope my reviews helped you find the best lighteners for your hair! 

Why You Should Trust Haireveryday?

The author of this article, Leah Marie Priest has a degree in Cosmetology with years of experience in dealing with hair care, scalp care, and hairstyling. As someone who extensively deals with all kinds of hair textures, products, styling methods and more, hair Leah Marie knows what kind of products and procedures suit each hair type and person. We have also tested these hair products and processes ourselves to provide you an unbiased review about every product. Each of our articles are also reviewed by a team of medical professionals so that you get the most accurate and expert-reviewed information.

Also Read:

Does Balayage Damage Hair More Than Highlights

Pulp Riot Clay Lightener

The Pulp Riot Clay Lightener is a great lightener for balayage hair coloring as it's safe and gentle on hair.

Product SKU: MO528G2JBLY52

Product Brand: Pulp Riot -

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: $42.50

Price Valid Until: 2023-06-11

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:


  • Clay lighteners are less damaging
  • Allows product to penetrate better as clay lighteners harden from the inside


  • Does not offer a greater levels of lift
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