Ombre vs Balayage: honestly lads, what is the difference? 2 years ago

Ombre vs Balayage: honestly lads, what is the difference?

Any ideas?

So as a beauty editor, I get asked a lot of beauty related questions.


Nine times out of ten, I can answer with confidence.

However, recently a friend of mine asked me what the difference between balayage and ombre was.

"Jesus, I haven't a clue," was my truthful response.

I could tell you if a person had ombre vs balayage - but I don't know the actual difference in technique.


ombre vs balayage

And so, I sought some expert knowledge from the lovely Maggie at Pilorum Salon (located just outside Chicago!)

Maggie reached out to me initially to talk about flamoyage, and eventually we sparked the ombré vs ballayage conversation.

"This subject is still hot and we constantly get asked questions about balayage and ombré derivatives at the salon," Maggie said.


My first question was: what exactly is ombré?

"Did you know that ombre is actually based in the French word for 'shadow'?"

"As its name suggests, ombre is a look where the colour of hair transitions from a darker to a lighter shade. The progression in shade will depend on the type, length, and color of hair. Achieving the ombre look is typically done in more than one session."


So what's balayage, then?

"Balayage is a technique that stylists are using to give clients “swept” hair. Balayage comes from the French word 'to sweep.' Through the balayage technique, stylists paint the desired color on small triangle sections of your hair."

"During these painting sessions, the stylists are able to give you highlights that are typically a few shades lighter than your natural hair color."

"Meanwhile, the bottom pieces of your hair will be left a bit darker, so that you have added dimension, volume, and movement to your entire look."

ombre vs balayage

Okay, are you all still with me?

Then, thankfully, Maggie simply explained the real differences between the two trends:


"Ombre is a specific look. It is important to note that the “ombre look” can be achieved via various techniques, such as the balayage technique."

"Balayage is a technique, rather than an actual look. It's is always customized to the client, which means that the colourist can place highlights in a more natural way."

"Balayage highlights can be processed in the air." (meaning no foils required.)

There you have it now.

Every day is a school day!