Balayage vs. Ombre: What Is The Difference?

hair ombre

When choosing between balayage and ombre hair colouring techniques, you always want to consider your personal style preferences. Balayage offers a blended transition where colour application begins at the roots and becomes heavier towards the ends. 

On the other hand, ombre creates a distinct contrast with darker roots, which gradually fade into lighter ends. This colouring style is often applied in a horizontal division. Both balayage and ombre cater to various hair lengths and textures, allowing for versatility in hair colour. We have discussed these two hair colouring styles in more detail in the sections below.

What is Hair Balayage and Its Types?

Balayage is a versatile hair colouring technique that involves hand-painting highlights onto the hair surface. These are the different types of balayage:

  • Traditional balayage: Features soft, blended highlights throughout the hair. The results are a seamless transition between colours.
  • Babylight balayage:  This technique involves adding fine highlights to your hair to mimic that of a baby.
  • Sombre balayage:  Also known as subtle ombre balayage, this technique offers a softer version of the ombre effect with a more gradual colour transition.

Most people who choose balayage prefer the ability to add dimension and depth to various hair textures and lengths. While the average cost of balayage is slightly higher than that of ombre, its low maintenance makes it ideal for people with busy lifestyles. 

hair balayage

Brown hair balayage

What is Hair Ombre and Its Types?

As noted earlier, ombre hair colouring creates a distinct contrast between lighter ends and darker roots, often achieved through a gradual colour fade. Some of the different types of ombre include:

  • Traditional ombre. This colouring technique features a noticeable colour shift from roots to ends.
  • Reverse ombre. With this option, darker ends transition into lighter roots, offering a unique twist on the classic technique.
  • Soft ombre. This technique creates an ultra-fine colour transition for a more natural look.
  • Dip-dye ombre. Unlike soft ombre, this technique features a more drastic colour change at the ends, resembling a dipped effect.

Depending on your desired overall look, your hair stylist may need to use various hair colouring techniques. How much it cost to dye your hair depends on the time it takes and the hair products used.

hair ombre

Blonde hair ombre

Difference Between Ombré and Balayage

While ombre and balayage create beautiful and multidimensional looks, they differ in appearance, application, and maintenance. Before choosing either, it’s important to understand how balayage vs. highlights differ in their techniques, final looks, styling options, and colour transition. Here’s a detailed comparison.

Differentiating Factors Balayage Ombre
Technique Hand-painted highlights are applied on the hair surface. There’s a gradual transition from darker roots to lighter ends.
Colour Transition Subtle, blended and natural. Distinct and noticeable colour transition.
Maintenance Natural re-growth blends well with the highlights, hence low maintenance. Hair re-growth is noticeable hence, it requires moderate maintenance.
Maintenance Products You need sulphate-free shampoos, conditioners, and occasional touch-ups. You need sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners, but salon visits and touch-ups may be a bit regular.
Cost Generally higher due to intricate application. It can be more affordable depending on the complexity of the desired look.
Look The final look is natural, sun-kissed highlights. You get a bold, dramatic colour change.
Hair Types This technique is suitable for most hair types but is least preferred by very dark brunettes. It is suitable for most hair types, especially long and middle-long hair.
Style The styling is versatile and customisable. The final look is striking and fashionable.
Fade The colour fades naturally and gracefully. The colour fades with a clear line of demarcation.
Impact on Curly Hair It enhances natural curls with depth and dimension. Due to its distinct colour transition, this technique adds a bold effect to curly hair.
Impact on Straight hair It adds texture to straight hair. It creates a sleek and trendy look.
Professional vs. DIY It is best done by a professional hairdresser due to the complex hand-painting technique. It is possible to DIY, but professional application is highly recommended.
Application time It may take longer to do the balayage highlights due to the detailed hand-painting. The application time is quicker compared to balayage.
Suitability for Blondes It blends seamlessly with blonde hair, making it perfect for all shades. The striking gradient effect offers a vibrant look for blondes.
Suitability for Brunettes It enhances the richness of brunette tones for a sophisticated appearance. You can easily customise the hairstyle for bold or subtle effects.
Customisation It offers flexibility in placement, intensity, and colour. This enables a personalised and natural look. While still customisable, Ombre is less versatile in its application. The more defined gradient comes with less flexibility in blending.

Caring for Your Ombre and Balayage

When styling and caring for your ombre or balayage, you need to take precautionary measures to ensure you maintain the colour, health, and shine of your hair. Your hair care routine should include the use of colour-enhancing products and healthy hair practices. Here’s a quick overview of how to care for your styled hair.

  • Use heat protectants. Before styling your hair with heat tools, apply a heat protectant to minimise damage. You should also limit the use of blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons.
  • Ensure regular touch-ups. Depending on the hair growth rate and preferences, touch-ups may be needed every two to three months.
  • Choose your cleansing products carefully. When choosing shampoos and conditioners, be sure to match them to the condition of your hair. For instance, if you have blonde hair with thinning issues, you can choose the best colour-safe shampoos for hair loss and thinning that neutralise brassiness and maintain a cool tone. Colour-depositing conditioners are also great for refreshing and maintaining your desired shade between salon visits.


Both ombré and balayage offer great ways to enhance your hair colour, each with distinct characteristics and maintenance requirements. Ombré provides a dramatic gradient from dark to light, ideal for those seeking a striking visual change. Balayage, on the other hand, offers a natural, sun-kissed look with soft highlights, perfect for a subtle yet sophisticated appearance.

By understanding the differences and caring for your chosen style with the right products and practices, you can maintain vibrant hair that complements your individual style and preferences. Contact our team at Ladyandthehair today to book an appointment or for any questions about hair styling.

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