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What’s the difference between a BALAYAGE and an OMBRÉ?!

Have you ever gone on Pinterest to find a hair INSPO picture for your hairstylist and noticed that BALAYAGE and OMBRE’ look similar? If you want to know the differences keep reading!

Ombré: having colors or tones that shade into each other (*Merriam-Webster)


Balayage: sweeping or to sweep (*French origin)


Now that we know the definition of these words, let’s get to the reason we’re here today--the difference.


So, ombré is the style or the look of the hair that means darker on top and gradual lightening towards the ends.

Now, balayage, on the other hand, is a technique that originated in France in the 70s, which is a freehand technique where the lightener is applied by hand in a sweeping motion, then processed open-air or with clear wrap.


To sum it up, they are two completely separate things (that may or may not be related). Ombré is the type of color placement, and balayage is the way your hairstylist will apply it.

Don’t get caught up in the verbiage of the picture with the color you like, because balayage is an umbrella term that can be many different looks and techniques.


There are MANY ways to achieve an ombré look, so your hairstylist might not even do a “balayage” anyway. They may do a couple of different techniques, and you will still get that ombré or “balayage” look you want. So don’t worry.

I always explain to my clients exactly what I will do to their hair to achieve the look they want, and I’ll also explain why I’m choosing a certain technique. You know my favorite part about coloring--everything is CUSTOMIZED.


For example, you may show me a picture, and you’re calling it a balayage, but what I see as the professional is a baby lite with a root-shadow and a money piece.

Wow, yeah--that may be a mouthful for you as the client, and you may not know what all that is, but it’s okay. You’re not expected to. It’s my job to fill in the blanks for you and make your hair look just the way you want it.


But while we’re here, I might as well define a few of those terms I used:

Baby lites: Are the most natural form of highlighting. They are micro foils created by using 1/8 inch sections that will create soft brightness and maximum blending.

Root shadow: This is typically an add-on to any lightening service to blend the hair at the root area for a seamless grow out using a darker shade.

Money piece: The BAM! BRIGHT blonde pieces that frame your face so perfectly and beautifully, but still blend into your hair color seamlessly.


For my clients, I can’t stress this enough--I don’t want you to feel like you need to come to your appointment with all of these terms, knowing what they mean. I just wanted to break it down and explain to you what we professionals are doing. I think it’ll help you understand a little better, but just come in ready with your photos, and we’ll always take it from there!

Hope to see you soon!


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