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Ombre Hair Color vs Balayage Highlights


Ombre Hair Color vs Balayage Highlights

Ombre hair color and Balayage highlights may look similar, but there are subtle differences between the two that require different coloring techniques and skill. Each style is unique in its own way and pairs best with different hair lengths and base colors.


Ombre is a French word meaning "two-toned," and it's meant to look like bleached hair that has not been re-touched for a significant amount of time. It features darker tones at the root area that gradually fade into lighter tones on the ends. The contrast in shades can be dramatic, with very dark roots and very light ends, or understated with muted, natural tones of color throughout. The ombre hair coloring technique tends to flatter darker blondes and brunettes with longer hair.


Balayage is also a French term, but means "to sweep." This look is created by freely applying highlights and lowlights to carefully selected individual strands of hair. The result ranges from soft and sexy to bold and chunky highlights of color. Dramatic light highlights are created with bleach, while soft, subtle shading is applied with a high lift color. This technique produces a sun-kissed appearance that looks great on girls with shoulder-length or long hair.


Wondering how to ombre your hair at home? Here are the steps:

  1. Gather your supplies, including gloves, two color applicator bowls, developer, dark hair color, bleach, pre-cut plastic wrap, toner, and applicator brushes.
  2. Mix your bleach in the first bowl and then apply it to the ends of your hair, randomly blending it up a little higher in some places.
  3. Wrap the bleached ends in the pre-cut plastic wrap to keep the bleach from drying too fast.
  4. When hair gets to the lightness you want, rinse and dry your hair.
  5. Mix the dark hair color in the second bowl, and apply it from the roots down to the middle of your hair.
  6. Let it process, and then shampoo, condition, and towel dry your hair.
  7. Apply toner to the bleached ends to tame brassiness, and when the color gets to the shade you like.
  8. Rinse, condition, dry, and style your hair!


Get gorgeous DIY balayage highlights at home with these steps:

  1. The supplies you need are gloves, applicator bowls, developer, your base color, bleach for highlights, a dark or bold color for lowlights, professional foil boards, and a small or angled applicator brush that lets you apply color to individual strands and get close to the scalp.
  2. Begin by applying your base color.
  3. One processed, rinse and dry your hair.
  4. Comb your hair into your usual style (do you usually part your hair on the left, right, or down the middle?) and visually map out where you want to apply the highlights.
  5. For a sun kissed look, place highlights around your crown, with more up front than in back.
  6. Section a small strand of hair and hold the foil board under it.
  7. Use the applicator brush to apply the bleach all the way to the ends, and pull the board away.
  8. Use the applicator brush to apply the bleach all the way to the ends, and pull the board away.
  9. Now it's time for the lowlights. Clip the top section of your hair where you just applied the highlights.
  10. Apply the lowlights on three or four strands of hair spaced around your head, primarily in the under layers of your hair.
  11. Let this color process, and then rinse, shampoo, condition, and style your hair as usual.


Let this color process, and then rinse, shampoo, condition, and style your hair as usual.


Ombre and balayage are both handpainted techniques that an experienced stylist can apply to your hair for a fee. But with a little practice, patience, and the right tools, you can produce these results in the comfort of your own home. No one will ever know that you didnít just step out of the salon!