Balayage vs ombre. We, as hairstylists, know the difference between an ombre and a balayage. But we get asked this question ALL THE TIME! Or we get an appointment request for an “ombre balayage” and we are over here thinking, “Well, which one?!” So once again, we are here to set the record straight and share with you the difference between the two styles.
Ombre is the “Style”
The word ombre comes from the French word “shadow”. Ombre is the actual style. It is the transition of a lighter shade from a darker shade. Generally, ombres work best on brunettes because it is the least subtle of all the techniques, a sombre is what we would see on blondes. That technique is more subtle, hence the word sombre. Ombre is great for the more daring girl, it is definitely more noticeable and typically more maintenance. Ombre is kind of like color blocking, there are no dark pieces left on the bottom to help keep it natural, just a nice transition between the colors. While the ombre is a beautiful look, it is also something that needs to be done right! A bad ombre can make all the difference and please don’t try to do it on your own ladies! That’s the style called Homebre and no one wants that!
Here are a few examples of some Ombres that we have done here at the salon:
Balayage is the “Technique”
The two are very similar, but there are very obvious distinctions between the two! The word “Balayage” comes from another French word meaning “to sweep”. Now, if you have ever seen someone get a balayage in the salon, this probably makes sense to you. When applying the color for a balayage, you sweep the color through small triangle sections of the hair onto a board or foil, giving it the natural transition down into the lighter color. In Balayage, there are dark pieces left on the bottom to create dimension and a more natural look. This technique looks like natural sun-kissed highlights throughout the hair. The transition is more natural and it is less maintenance than an ombre.
To show you some visuals of our own work, scroll down!
Balayage vs Ombre Pictures
Timing: Up to 3-4 hours
Great for: Someone looking for contrast, but bleaching hair ends may cause damage”Ombré means [going] darker at the root and gradually getting lighter at the ends of your hair,” Jennifer noted. “The beauty of ombré is that it can work for any hair type or color. If the hair is highlighted already, I just paint on a ‘fake’ root and make it look like the color has grown out for a few months.”
Timing: Up to 3-4 hours
Great for: The lazy set (though it’s a celeb fave!)”Sombre is a more subtle version of ombré. Even though it is more subtle, it takes the same amount of time as ombré,” said Jennifer. The color transition is also much more gradual (read: no lines of demarcation, which means less touch-ups), making it a lower maintenance, less expensive alternative to its more obvious counterpart.
Timing: 30-90 minutes
Great for: Those looking for a natural-looking contrast”Balayage is a French word for sweep,” said the colorist. “Technically, it means that you area-painting highlights on the hair in a sweeping motion.” Highlights will be in chunkier sections, making it seem like the sun naturally lightened the hair. Because no foils or meche is used to apply product, sections are less saturated than typical highlights and regrowth lines are less noticeable. Your hair will look just as good whether it’s one week or one month from your initial salon appointment.
Paul Archuleta/GC Images
Timing: 30-90 minutes
Great for: Those looking for super-subtle highlights”Flamboyage is basically the same [as balayage], but the ends may be lightened a little more,” said Jennifer. A new alternative to traditional highlights, this process incorporates elements of both balayage and ombré techniques to give the hair more depth and a natural-yet-polished result—even after your hair has grown out.
Balayage Ombre Hair Color Ideas with Blonde, Brown, Caramel, Red
1. Golden Brown: Maybe you just returned from a Mediterranean vacation spent sunning yourself on a yacht. Or maybe you and your stylist just conspired to evoke that look, but don’t worry, we’ll never tell. (via Willow Lane)
2. Dramatic Red Ombre: Balayage is a super fun technique for those who like to experiment with color. Your ombre can be blended, but still super bold. (via La Folie Couture)
3. Cool Blonde: If you’ve ever been jealous of the natural highlights children develop in the summer, you can rein in your inner green-eyed monster. With a blonde balayage-d ‘do, you can look that natural too. (via We Heart It)
4. Splashlights: If you’re looking for something edgier, balayage is also used to created a look called the splashlight, where color is only painted onto the middle of the strand. We’re just waiting for this one to take over the runway. (via Everything Emily)
5. Snowy Blonde: Want to go platinum, but afraid to take the plunge? Use balayage to paint it at varying heights on your strands. You get all the wow of such a bright blonde, but you keep the warmer, subtler tones near your face. (via Add Hairstyle)
6. Julia Engel: Not only does balayage created gorgeous, multi-layered color, it also lets you get away with stretching out salon visits just a little longer. Who’s to say if those are roots or just a part of the masterpiece? (via Gal Meets Glam)
7. Highlighted Gray: Kelly Osbourne has been telling us for ages that gray isn’t just for middle-aged women anymore, and we believe her. We’re betting more stylish ladies would rock this color if they knew they could do it with such a variety of tones. (via Miss Teacups)
8. Poppy Montgomery: Most of us don’t have the luxury of being natural redheads, but folding in some blonde balayage can at least make us feel like we are. (Photo via Toby Canham/Getty)
9. Luminous Lights: Whether you’re trying to protect your hair or your wallet from the havoc chemical dyes can wreak, just a few well-placed face-framing pieces can totally liven up your look. (via Elle France)
10. Subtle Ombre: If you weren’t born with bottle-perfect color, a subtle ombre can give that mouse brown or dishwater blonde some much needed pop! (via SS Life + Style)
11. Pastel Pink: While we applaud all you ladies rocking various shades of neon hair, sometimes we want something a little subtler. This pastel pink on platinum blonde fits the bill quite nicely. (via Style Saint)