balayage vs ombre

Balayage vs. Ombre: What’s The Difference?

So, you’ve been thinking of changing your hair colour to give your hair the much-needed upgrade. But your hairstylist is suddenly speaking French and you have no clue what Balayage or Ombre mean, and which one to go for! Also, the difference between Balayage & Ombre can be so subtle that sometimes they are difficult to tell apart.

Well, lucky for you, we’ve got you covered as we dive into full details of these low-maintenance hair colour techniques that all it-girls are flaunting.

What is Balayage?

Balayage (baa-lee-ahge) is a word of French origin, which means ‘sweeping’. In this hair colour technique, a hairstylist skillfully hand-paints the selected strands of your hair, but just over the surface, about two inches away from the roots. The intent of this hair colouring technique is to give your hair a more natural look with subtle highlight effects.

Balayage provides a more beautiful, subtle, and dimensional effect than traditional highlighting methods. The hair colouring process begins a few inches away from the roots and gradually deepens in intensity, as it moves through the sections of hair, towards the ends. This application method renders a rather naturally sun-kissed look as the underside of your hair remains darker.

Balayage works just as well for all hair colours, ranging from blonde to brown to red.

Where did Balayage Originate?

In 1970s France, the high-profile Carita Salon in Paris came up with this ground-breaking hair colouring technique with fabulous naturally sun-kissed effects. The balayage hair trend had traveled to the hair salons of the US by the 90s, however, gaining popularity with the masses only in the recent years, thanks to top celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and Chrissy Teigen.

How Long Does Balayage Last for?

Like any other hair colouring technique, Balayage is a permanent treatment which grows out with your hair. With proper care and depending on the rate of your hair growth, your balayage hair can last 4-6 months. That said, it can fade a bit over time but still does not mean that you have to run to the salon for touch-ups, thanks to the naturally gradual spread of the dye. Since the top of the hair strands remain originally dark, there is no need for root touch-ups every few weeks.

Does Balayage Cover Grey Hair?

Since balayage is a permanent hair colour it will work to hide grey hair just as other dyes, but to be honest, balayage does not cover grey hair growing in from the roots. Simple reason being that the balayage technique avoids the roots of your hair, which is where your greys appear. To go for balayage when you have grey hair would mean visiting the salon every few weeks to touch-up the roots. That defeats the whole purpose of balayage hair!

Also, the effortlessly sun-kissed effect that this hair colouring technique stands for would not be possible if the roots are dyed.

Is Balayage for You?

It all depends on the length of your hair, your purpose of going for hair colouring, and what look you want to achieve by dyeing your hair. Balayage looks best on long lengths with wavy, textured hair that deserves to be on the red-carpet! Medium lengths can also be livened up through balayage with almost as sensational effects as with long hair. Short hair, especially bob-cuts, however, may not be able to take full advantage of the dimensional effects that balayage is best known for.

Also, balayage isn’t the best solution for those only seeking to cover-up their greys. It is more suitable for those who want to experiment with hair colouring without losing much of their natural colour & style.

The best thing to do when in two minds over balayage (is to consult with your hair colourist to understand if this technique works for your particular hair and your lifestyle.

What is Ombre?

The word Ombre (om-bray), also of French origin, when translated means ‘shade’ or ‘shadow’. It is similar to ‘umbra’ in Italian meaning ‘shadowing’. The Ombre technique will give your hair a dramatic, two-toned look with often the top of your hair retaining its darker, natural colour, with a lighter bottom using hair lighteners. The transition of colour from light to dark is short, creating that stylishly dramatic look.

Another variation of Ombre is Sombre, where the colour blending is more subtle, resulting in a softer contrast in the two colours used.

You don’t need frequent colour touch-ups with hair ombre since the top of your hair retains its original darker shade. Over time, the overall effect of ombre will of course be altered as your hair grows out. Some people actually like that to happen!

Where Did Ombre Originate?

No prizes for guessing, the epitome of all things fashion, France! Like most other fashion trends being consumed by celebrities and it-girls globally, ombre also has its roots in France of the 1800s.

Interestingly, ombre, originally, is a technique used to dye fabrics in a gradual two-toned colour, most usually from a light to dark blending of hues. However, it gained massive popularity around the 21st century when hairstylists began using it as a dramatic hair colour effect.

Today, the ombre effect can be seen everywhere, from textiles, home interiors, to hair colour, and is showing no signs of leaving soon!

How Long Does Hair Ombre Last?

Hair ombre, like balayage, will outgrow only at the speed of your hair-growth. Since the top of your hair still retains shades of your original hair colour, the new hair growth does not disrupt the hair ombre. There might be slight fading of the hues over time but that can be prevented to a large extent by using appropriate hair care products that your hair colourist will recommend depending on your hair type.

Another thing to remember here is that any hair colouring technique, whether from light-to-dark or dark-to-light, will alter the pH balance of your hair. To prevent this, and to prolong the hair colour, talk to your hair colourist about hair treatments that can make your hair look and feel healthier.

How to Care for Ombre Hair?

As I’m sure you’re already aware, using chemicals, like dyes and lighteners, can take a toll on your lovely mass of hair. But not to worry, we have some useful tried and tested tips to keep your hair healthy after the ombre treatment.

·   Use purple shampoo – it is not a gimmick! It really works to keep your hair ombre looking light and fresh.

·   Moisturize your hair – to counteract the brittle feel that sometimes your hair might acquire after colouring, use hair oils, conditioners, and also go for protein masks frequently.

·   Minimize the use of heating tools – heat can further distress your hair causing dryness and dullness. Use heat protectants before blow-drying or heat styling your ombre hair.

·   Avoid the urge to wash hair everyday – this is generally true even for untreated hair as washing strips your hair of its natural oils, and washing hair everyday often leaves it dry.

Bottomline, care for your ombre hair just as you would after any hair colour treatment.

What is the Difference Between Balayage & Ombre?

So now that you have a fair idea of what balayage and ombre can do for you, the next question is, are they very different?

Balayage and Ombre differ quite a bit in their application techniques and the final look. While balayage is more a technique of strategically sweeping the hair colour across the surface of hair for that effortlessly sun-kissed look, ombre is a dramatic hair colouring style that looks more striking and less natural.

Balayage is a vertical hair dyeing process where the hair is painted almost all through its length, leaving a few inches from the roots. Ombre is a more horizontal application of hair colour graduating from light to dark from bottom upwards for the dipped-in effect.

While both hair colouring styles require low maintenance, balayage might still last you longer, owing to its natural look. Ombre hair look alters more rapidly as new hair growth pushes the lightened part lower along the hair length. This might sometimes be desired by people who like to flaunt the ever-changing look of their hair!

So, Between Balayage & Ombre, Which One is Right For You?

That really depends on your personal style and what you are trying to achieve by colouring your hair.

If you want to make a bold statement with your hair, ombre is the way to go for you. Balayage works best for those who appreciate the subtle, dimensional, and naturally sexy look. While ombre will completely alter your look to a striking one, balayage helps you retain your natural style.

Either way, balayage and ombre both are definitely great hair trends that won’t go out of fashion any time soon. Talk to your hair colourist to explore the endless possibilities at your disposal!

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