If you haven't heard of it already, Balayage is a term that is being used more frequently in salons recently and is swiftly becoming the industry standard for certain blonde looks.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what the difference is between Ombre highlighting and Balayage over the last year or so and feel compelled to write this post. As a way to kind of clear the air of all the clutter and misinformation that has been tossed around in magazines, style blogs, comments sections... And a few hair stylists with a somewhat less than thoughtful choice of wording.
The first and foremost thing to understand, before moving forward, is what distinguishes Balayage and Ombre from each other.
It is simply this: Ombre (Adjective) is a look or style and Balayage (Noun/Verb) is a technique used to achieve a certain look or style (BTW neither of them have anything to do with dip dye).
Very frequently the technique of Balayage is used to create an Ombre look and this is why the topic has been such a huge source of confusion.
Many women in search of a style that is comprised of gradation from darkness to lightness in the hair or, simply, natural and realistic looking blondes have been given incorrect information and left wondering why they did not achieve the desired color they came to the salon to get.
So all that being said. Balayage is a French word that translated to english means “sweeping” or “to sweep” that originated in the 1970’s to describe a way of applying lightener or color to the hair.
Balayage highlights can start very close to the scalp (unlike Ombre) and can be placed as densely or sparsely throughout the hair as desired depending on the amount of lightness trying to be attained. Baylayage can also start further away from the scalp (typically 4-6 inches) to achieve an Ombre feel.
Because Balayage is painted or swept on to the hair, it is not as precise or *stripey* as traditional highlights utilizing foils or papers can sometimes appear to be. Though hand painted Baylayge sections of hair can be placed onto a foil to speed up a lightening process.
Here are two examples of Balayge Highlights
Now onto Ombre. The word Ombre is derived from the French present participle Ombrer which means “to shade”. Ombre the way we know it now is a signifier of a color that appears to be shaded or graduated from darker and lighter toward/at the ends.
Here are two exapmples of Ombre Highlights
There are about a million ways to achieve an Ombre look. From dying some of the ends, using woven foils diluted with water to the most popular method, Balayage. Ombre can be a very subtle gradation from the natural hair color to 2-3 shades lighter toward the ends or very bold with darker color applied to the root of the hair and lightener applied to the ends up to 7 shades lighter than the natural hair color.
But the important part of an Ombre look to remember is that the lightened parts of the hair are almost never meant to go any higher up than the temples. Ombre was created to look as if the sun had naturally lightened the hair and about six months have passed. This is why you see it so frequently paired with layered and lose fall clothing. Ombre is not intended to look like it’s time to get one’s roots done. A perfect Ombre look can be done once in the salon and grown out completely and never look unfinished or in need of touching up.
Here are two exapmples of Ombre with some Balayage Highlights toward the top
Balayage, though more subtle and soft than traditional foiling techniques, is intended to be maintained more frequently, usually between 3 and 6 months depending on the density of the lightened hair.
Hope this clears some things up and if you are interested in getting these types of hair color you can always book a complimentary consultation with any one of our four outstanding colorists at Seagull Hair Salon.
xoxo Shaun SureThing for Seagull Hair Salon.