20+ Differences Between Balayage And Ombre (Explained)

Ombre and Balayage have been used interchangeably for the past few decades. It’s not a surprise that only a few people know the exact difference between them both. But that’s what we are here for!

We have prepared some key points for you to understand the differences between Balayage and Ombre.

Major Differences Between Balayage And Ombre

What Exactly Is Balayage Hair?

Balayage refers to the ‘technique’ and not the color of hair. The word has originated in French, which translates to ‘sweep,’ which basically defines the whole process of Balayage hair.

So, what happens to your hair is that your colorist selects the desired hair section or strands which you aim to dye. Then the selected color is literally “hand-painted” on your hair. 

The coloring process starts from a few inches away from the root hair, and then the color density gradually increases by reaching the end. So, at the tip of your hair, you will get the darkest shade of color. For those who are wondering, Balayage is pronounced as ‘Bael-ea-j.’ 

What Exactly Is Ombre Hair?

Ombre is also taken from French, which translates “to shade.” This dip-dye effect includes placing the dye horizontally on the desired section, then blending upwards to diffuse the color line. This effect helps in hiding the light, which distinguishes lighter hair from darker. 

This effect results in the root hair being the darkest, and then the color gradually decreases by reaching the tip of your hair. In simpler terms, the tip of your hair is visibly highlighted.

This method still includes the usage of foil, even though it is birthed from the balayage technique.


Key differences between balayage and ombre


  1. Hair color is swept to create a texture from roots to tips. 
  2. Gradual lightening from light to dark
  3. Provides natural and sun tint look 


  1. The top of the hair is left untouched, and the color is dyed at the tips.
  2. Dramatic lightning of hair at the tip.
  3. It can go long without touch-ups. 

Aim No usage of foils does not result in stripy linesGives off a bold appearance by focusing only on the tips
Treatment Sweeping color free-handedly Blends multiple colors by letting the dyed strands overlap each other
Timestamp3-4 months4-6 months
Pros Low commitment, soft on hair, versatileHides harsh lines, easy to afford, and is suitable for people who are allergic to the dye
Cons Color may fade away; several touch-ups to settle the blonde colorIt should be done properly, looks best with curly or wavy hair
Result natural or dimensional outlook Less subtle and bold if the right colors are chosen

The Contrast Between Balayage And Ombre


  • Balayage- It gives off a pop of brightness without using foils in the process. The end result does not include any stripy lines that you generally get from dying your hair.

    This technique allows one to showcase the artistry of the colorist, along with providing lesser noticeable re-growth. 
  • Ombre- This style looks good on your dark locks and appears easy to obtain. This low-maintenance technique goes well on any hair type.

    You can opt for vivid, bright colors if you want a bold appearance. If you want a subtle style, then go for dark color than your natural hair shade. 


  • Balayage- In this process, the color is “swept” onto the hair framing your face, out-facing pieces, and the tips of your hair. As it creates a different level of brightness, your hair appears to be sun-tinted.

    The process does not involve the usage of foil generally. But colorists are opting for foils in another method of balayage, which is ‘Foilayge.’ 
  • Ombre- the process includes splitting two sections of your hair and “shading” them with two different colors. They are later blended gradually to get the desired result. Your colorist might use foils for doing the process.

Duration of The Process

  • Balayage- Since balayage involves hand coloring on your strands, it might take several hours or a few minutes, depending on the highlights you are choosing.

    For instance, if you are going for layered balayage, it will take approximately 2-3 hours. Whereas if you want only a few strands to highlight, you have to devote only 45 minutes tops. 
  • Ombre- Ombre hair usually takes 2-4 hours. However, you have to take more than one session to get that flawless ombre look. But this also depends on your hair type, length, and color.

    Hence, it’s better to consult your hairdresser before opting for either hair coloring technique.


  • Balayage- As this method generally focuses on the roots or top of your hair, it gives your hair a natural or rather dimensional outlook.

    Balayage hair can be identified by the random highlights dispersed throughout your hair, which often resemble free-hand strokes of paint. 
  • Ombre- The result is generally characterized by less subtle and very striking highlights. The primary focus is, of course, on the tip of the hair.

    The lightest shade of color highlights the tip, which gives you a lightning set of locks without any dimensions. 


Types of Balayage you can opt

  1. Partial balayage
  2. Foilyage
  3. Reverse balayage

Types of Ombre you can opt

  1. Sombre
  2. Color melting


  • Balayage- Its main purpose is to blend with your natural hair color effortlessly. So, people won’t see any visible roots after your hair starts growing.

    If you carry out a proper hair routine with appropriate conditioners, your balayage can stay up to 3-4 months. 
  • Ombre- As mentioned before, your hair length, type, and the kind of highlight you opt for define how the hair dye will look on you and the period that it will last long. On average, you can have this ombre look on you for at least 4-6 months. 


  • Balayage- This hand-painting technique requires less maintenance. Hence you can go to salons every 12-14 weeks to touch up your hair. 
  • Ombre- It depends on the section of hair where you have applied the color. For instance, if you have opted to dye the tips of your hair, then you can go for touch-ups in 8-10 weeks.

    However, if you have targeted the mid-section of your hair, you will need to get your touch-up done in 5-8 weeks. 


Balayage – Following tips can be tried to maintain your balayage:

  • You can use a natural oil like almond oil to ensure that your dyed hair looks glistening. After oiling, rinse your hair with lukewarm water and wrap a towel around it. This helps in locking in moisture. Then you can proceed with your shampoo and conditioner. 
  • If you tend to have an oily scalp, you can wash your hair daily. Otherwise, you can wash your hair only a few times a week to maintain the hair color. You can also go with dry shampoo to prevent damage. 
  • Do visit your salon for monthly or weekly touch-ups. 

Ombre – To maintain your ombre highlights, read the following points:

  • Cutting down and washing your hair is the top method to prevent your ombre from fading away. If it’s necessary, and you NEED to do it, then opt for dry shampoo to wash your hair. 
  • You should try deep-conditioning treatments or hair masks to provide moisture to your vulnerable hair. These methods will protect your hair from normal wear and tear.
  • Dying your hair calls for extra care and treatment. To maintain your ombre style, replace your usual shampoo with color-protecting shampoo, which is easy on your hair. 

Different Variations

Balayage – Three types of Balayage hair includes:

  • Partial balayage refers to the technique where hair dye is hand-painted on your hair on just a particular section of your hair instead of spreading it randomly on your mane. 
  • The foilyage technique consists of hand-painting your hair and then wrapping foil around the colored hair section. This method is a little similar to conventional foil highlights. Then heat is applied to allow the color to penetrate into the hair. 
  • Reverse balayage is carried out by adding depth to the hair. It will provide dimensions and darkness to lighter hair. 

Ombre – Variations of Ombre include:

  • Sombre is made of two terms- ‘soft’ and ‘ombre.’ So, it is a subtle version of a traditional ombre. The roots of your hair will be left untouched, but the hair dye is applied on the tip with a subtle transition between colors. 
  • Color melting is carried out by applying multiple colors and then left to overlap each other. This method gives a seamless blend of hair dye. 


Balayage – The benefits include:

  • This method allows you to grow out your balayage hair as if they were natural. This is a great way to begin your hair coloring journey as it requires very low commitment.
  • Balayage is very soft on your hair because it does not involve the usage of any chemicals. 
  • Its versatile characteristic helps it to go with any hair type or color. 
  • Since it does not directly contact your scalp, balayage can be proven a miracle for women who are allergic to hair dye. The balayage is just for your HAIR, not for your scalp. 

Ombre – The benefits include

  • It simply hides the harsh lines of your hair once they start to grow, as the color is not applied directly to the roots. 
  • It is very cheap, and you can rock it with a single-layer haircut as well.
  • It can easily vary from giving you a subtle look or a dramatic and loud look. 


Disadvantages of Balayage:

  1. The first disadvantage is that your color may eventually fade away if you skip any hair routine. 
  2. If you are a dark-haired person looking for blonde highlights, it will take several salon visits to get that desired look. 
  3. Being exposed to any kind of bleach is a risk for your hair as well as your scalp. 

 Disadvantages of Ombre:

  1. You should ensure that your colorist knows what he/she is doing. If not done properly, your ombre may give you a weird and different result from what you were desiring.  
  2. Even though ombre fits every hair type, it looks the best on wavy or curly hair. If you possess naturally straight hair, think properly before booking an appointment. 
  3. Do NOT under any circumstances think of getting an ombre if you have grown bangs. It won’t simply go well. Because imagine this, your bangs are of your natural hair color while your remaining locks are of different tones. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Which one will work for my hair- Balayage or ombre?

Both of them will fit any hair type, as mentioned above. But if you want a smaller number of touch-ups, you can opt for Balayage.

Ombre can fit long hair, which can easily and effortlessly show the hair dye effect. 

Q2. Is ombre still trending?

The trend started in 2012 until the present time. There are some variations in the style, but that does not restrict the ombre from becoming a trend.

Also, if you are willing to opt for Ombre and if it suits you, who cares about what’s trending and what’s not?

Q3. What would go well on flat and straight hair?

Balayage or highlights should be your go-to if you rock straight hair. Ombre needs thicker and naturally wavy hair to show its presence. 

Q4. What should be avoided after getting Balayage hair?

As mentioned before, try to avoid washing your hair to sustain the natural glow and radiance of your dyed hair. You can begin with washing your hair after 3-4 days. 

Q5. Can balayage damage my hair?

Balayage hair does contain bleach, but that should not be much damaging. Most people believe that balayage is unarguably the less damaging method of hair coloring, which is true.

This method does not include any foil or heat. So, you can opt for Balayage if this is your first time coloring your hair. 

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?