When it comes to getting your hair done, most people walk into the salon with a plan. Sometimes it’s easy — a haircut, a blow-dry, and off you go. Other times…not so much. One of the newest hair trends, Balayage, is a technique emerging in salons all over the country. Seeming to come into style overnight, balayage has been a headline on Instagram feeds for months, leaving people wondering, what is it? How does it differ from Ombre? And is it right for you?
This trendy hair technique is named after the French word for sweeping and has emerged in the last few years around the world as the superior method for sprucing up your hair. Kicking regular highlights to the curb, the Balayage technique is an easy way to lighten your hair without compromising your natural color.
The color is painted brighter around the face and done mostly on the body of your hair while blending your roots. The hand-painted process guarantees a naturally lightened look, without the chunky-ness that highlights can sometimes produce.
Most often used without foils, Balayage breaks the mold on how traditional hairdressers learned to lighten hair and produces a naturally multi-tonal look. The vertical sweeping motion of the application helps create the sun-kissed, effortlessly light look that Balayage is famous for. The look mimics the style of the technique, creative and natural.
But be careful, Balayage is sometimes used in conjunction with bleach and depending on the desired color, finished with a toner. Bleach strips your hair of color and is used to help the lightning process while toner brings in ashy tones and controls the actual color your hair will end up being.
This technique is often suggested for people with darker hair to achieve dimension easily and can be used to create caramel and mocha tones, lightening it without having to completely bleach or dye your hair. Every style and texture of hair can be Balayaged, some stylists even prefer to work on curly hair because they can pick out specific curls to highlight based on how they fall, and decide which look will be the best for you.
Balayage is a commitment. Not a commitment like dyeing your hair pink, but a commitment of your time. For a successful Balayage session, salons usually recommend a consultation before booking an appointment, so your colorist can assess your hair and decide what method will be the best to lighten it while keeping the look as natural as possible.
Including the consult, the average Balayage session can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. But everyone, hairdresser and customer alike, will agree the time and money spent in the salon to achieve this look is well worth the outcome.
If you time-traveled back to 2008, another popular trend emerged in the same way Balayage did– seemingly overnight. Ombre hair, at the time a new type of coloring technique, became extremely popular and is still a preferred way to color your hair by many salon goers. Another French word meaning shaded, Ombre, is the technique of coloring hair from dark to light, root to tip.
The goal of Ombre hair is the gradual color change from the darker root to the lighter ends. Also easy to maintain because your roots are left untouched, Ombre hair took over salons during the 2008 recession, when a full hair dye or highlight session was out of most people’s budgets.
Often compared to Balayage, both techniques boost the natural, spent-the-summer-at-the-beach look while having the added pros of being low maintenance and eye-catching.
The main difference between balayage and ombre is color placement and location. To confuse things even more, you can get balayage ombre hair technically… but that’s a whole other story. Balayage is a technique of painting hair. It’s how you apply the color, not where you apply the color.
Ombre is the desired outcome or look you intend to achieve with the color. It refers less to the process and more on the final look of gradiently colored hair.
From 2008 till the present day, the Ombre trend has developed into many different and diverse styles of hair. From the classic blonde or brunette to the more adventurous colors like pink and purple, people from all over the world adopted the trend and made it recognizable by anyone who has stepped foot in a salon over the last decade. Ombre has become a classic style that is now making way for Balayage to have its turn changing the current trends of hair as we know it.
When it comes to deciding between Balayage and Ombre, it’s all about the type of look you want to achieve. With both styles still trendy, it can be hard to make out what is best for your hair. It might help to have a professional take a look before you decide and to help guide you in the right direction. Even with trends continually changing…surprise! There’s no wrong answer to this question.