What’s the Difference Between Ombre and Balayage?

There are a lot of couture color techniques floating around the internet, but Ombre and Balayage are by far the most commonly requested services. While both of these terms are used interchangeably in most social media circles, they are two very different techniques.

So what’s the difference?


The term “balayage” comes from a French word meaning “to sweep”. The reason for this term is the hand-painting used with this technique. A stylist will “sweep” lightener across select sections of the hair to create a natural, low-maintenance look. The end result of the Balayage technique looks like this:


Balayage by Erin

The key difference between Balayage and Ombre is whether or not any dark hair can be seen at the ends. Notice how the ends of the hair are a blend of both lighter and darker strands.


OmbreĀ is a term used for colors or tones that shade into each other. This means that a true Ombre hair color blends from dark at the root to light at the ends, with no dark color left at the ends. Ombre looks like this:


Ombre by Jenny

Notice how this finished style is darker at the root and blends evenly to a lighter shade at the ends. None of her darker root color is visible at the ends of her hair.

So which technique is right for you?

Here’s a few things to consider:

  • Do you want a look that is more naturalĀ (balayage) or bold (ombre)?
  • Do you want a more subtle look (balayage) or an edgier look (ombre)?
  • Is your hair blonde? If so, balayage is going to be very subtle, while ombre will give you a more visible color shift.
  • Is your hair dark? If so, balayage will give you subtle highlights, while ombre will be very dramatic

Ready to try one of these techniques? Book an appointment with us now!