If you’re ready to change up your hair color but haven’t been able to decide between a balayage or an ombre because, well, you have no clue what the difference between them is; you’re far from alone! So what’s the difference between the two? When you see a picture of an ombre look next to a balayage, they probably look pretty much the same to you. However, balayage and ombre are two totally separate processes that require different application techniques!
It can be hard to spot the differences and find out which look is right for you, but we are here to help. We’ve got all the details you need to understand these weird French words! Prepare for the ultimate showdown, balayage versus ombre! Round 1; FIGHT!
What is Balayage?
A balayage is a great way to bring subtle, natural-looking highlights into your look without all of the maintenance of foil highlights! The word balayage is actually derived from the French term “to sweep”; this term refers to the motion a stylist is making with their wrist when hand-painting your hair during a balayage! This technique has everything to do with the way that color is applied to the hair and making it look as natural as possible.
In this style, not all of the ends of the hair will be colored. Because of this the transition from dark roots to lightened hair will be more natural. The lightener is placed in a vertical pattern with smaller sectioning, and gently painted on the surface of the hair. This technique allows your stylist to easily customize the depth, dimension, and lightness of your look!
Check out these balayages our team did below!
What is Ombre?
Ombre means “shaded” in French; fancy right? Using the ombre technique, the color is concentrated on the mid-lengths and ends with a few face-framing pieces. Certainly this can be done on any client and any hair length. Ombre can be done using fantasy color, lightener, or permanent hair color to achieve a look like the one below!
The goal of ombre is usually to get a more stark contrast between a dark root and highlights. Although ombre often gets compared to dip-dye, ombre is much more subtle than a dip-dye. Dip-dye leaves a strong line of demarcation between dark and light, whereas ombre gradually blends the color from the dark root onto the highlighted section. An ombre looks beautiful on everyone, with any hair texture or natural color!
What’s the difference between balayage and ombre?
The short answer is that ombre is of a striking look, and balayage is a bit more subtle. Balayage provides a more natural arrangement of highlights, whereas ombre is a striking contrast of color.
How are they similar?
Balayage and ombre are both beautiful hairstyles for any hair length or texture! In addition to being a gorgeous and unique look, both options are super low maintenance. If you’ve ever had foil highlights done, you know that you have to make frequent trips to the salon to get the highlights touched up every 4 yo 6 weeks. (During longer months, this can mean you’ll have 2 appointments in the same month that might cost you between $75 and $100 each!!!)
Balayage and ombre allow you to skip all of that maintenance by allowing your roots to grow out without ruining your look. In a balayage, the highlights are applied where your hair naturally grows! Therefore, there won’t be a distinguishable line between your highlights and your root color. Similarly, an ombre usually begins at the mid-length, far from your roots, so your hair can continue to grow out, and your ombre will still be beautiful as ever!
What does it cost?
Although balayage and ombre allow for you to skip the routine trips to the salon, the initial appointment for your balayage/ombre will be long and expensive. (Pack a lunch, because you’ll be at the salon all day!) Here at TouchUps Salon, we typically book our ombres and balayages out for 3 to 4 hours, and the pricing starts at $155. The price may go up if your stylist needs to use a toner or extra color. Prices will vary based on where you are and the experience of your stylist, so for more information on pricing, check out our post on how much your hair color should cost!
Balayages and ombre color take longer than other color processes because of the specificity of color placement. To get that super subtle, natural look, your stylist has to observe your natural growth and paint with the patterns! Ombre looks require careful blending and placement as well, so unfortunately the lengthy appointment for it is unavoidable.
The time and price of your appointment also depends on the state of your hair when you arrive for your service. If you have color on your hair, especially box color, that can make getting you to your goal a lot more difficult. (You may need a color correction instead of a normal balayage!) Additionally, your hair may not lift to that platinum blonde you want in one appointment for a myriad of reasons. I highly, HIGHLY recommend scheduling a consultation with a stylist before booking your balayage or ombre so that you know exactly what to expect.
What is maintenance like?
Well, as I stated in the previous paragraphs, you won’t need to come back into the salon every few weeks to refresh your balayage or ombre! Some clients can go up to 3 months without another salon appointment, but it all depends on your color goals and your hair’s health. If you use the right products and keep a healthy daily hair routine, you should be able to make your color last a long time!
As with any hair color, you should only be using color-safe hair products! One of our favorite color-safe shampoo and conditioners is Minu by Davines. It’s very gentle, sulfate-free, smells great, and is made from natural ingredients! If you’re a blonde and want to keep your locks ashy and gorgeous, invest in a purple shampoo! Purple shampoo will help cancel out any brassy or gold tones that start to show in your hair. (Our favorite is the Bust Your Brass purple shampoo by Amika!)
The only maintenance you may want to take care of in the salon between balayages is a toner service. A toner is just a glaze that your stylist can place over top of your highlighted hair to refresh existing color or cancel out unwanted tones (such as brassiness). Toner services are generally super short (45 minutes at most), and budget-friendly.
You should also make sure that your hair is healthy BEFORE your balayage or ombre appointment to prevent damage. Both processes require the use of lightener, and if your hair is already in poor condition, getting a balayage may fry your hair! Make sure your hair is in the best shape possible before lightening it drastically. Try using products like leave-in and deep conditioners to keep your hair hydrated, shiny, and healthy!
Which one is right for me?
Before you make that appointment at the salon, ask yourself these questions: How often do I want to be in the salon? How much lightness do I want to see around my face? Do I want to change my hair color with the seasons?
You would probably prefer a balayage if you want to see lightness around your face in your part, enjoy changing your color with the seasons, and want a seamless grow-out. You might prefer an ombre if you don’t want any lightness around your face or part but want to see a pop of color on your ends, you enjoy changing your color with the seasons or changing it for fun, and you do not want to come back into the salon if you do not have to.
How do I choose?
Ultimately, it’s about what you want to see on yourself! Want to make a bold statement? Then you should try an ombre from your natural color to fire engine red or something brighter! If you want some subtle highlights that look natural even as they grow out, the balayage is going to be your friend.
Coloring your hair can be quite a daunting choice to make, especially knowing that lightener is permanent and damaging. Just remember that your stylist wants not only to help you feel like your best you, but to keep you looking good too! (What I mean is; hopefully your stylist won’t agree to do anything that makes your hair look awful.) You should always feel free to ask your stylist questions about looks you might want to try, and trust them to give you an honest opinion.
You do you, girls and boys!
That’s all for this TouchUps Beauty Blog; catch you next time!