The great debate: balayage vs. ombre. The main difference between these two hair coloring techniques is that ombre is a gradual color, while balayage is more of a sweeping color.

Balayage vs. ombre: It’s all French! Literally. If you don’t know what balayage and ombre hair-coloring techniques are, you’re not alone. Here’s how to tell the difference between these two trendy color techniques and how to decide which one you want to rock.

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What is Ombre?

The French word “ombre” translates to “shade” or “shadow.” The ombre effect is usually a dramatic two-tone color that fades from dark to light or even light to dark in some cases. It’s traditionally done by lightening hair from the tips up to create a gradual horizontal fade into your natural color right around the jawline.

Ombre is a fun, low-maintenance color technique that can be accomplished with natural blonde, brown or red hair tones. You can also opt for bold colored ombre with blue, purple, and vivid red. It’s versatile, easy to maintain, and there are endless ombre options for this color style.

What is Balayage?


Ombre’s beautiful sister, “balayage” is French for “to sweep.” As a hair color technique, balayage refers to highlights that are hand-painted or “swept” onto the surface of the hair. The highlights usually begin away from the roots and become heavier as they travel down the section of hair to the tips. The color is painted on the surface of the hair in vertical sweeps, so the underside remains darker, giving your locks a dimensional, sun-kissed glow. Just like ombre, balayage is an easy-to-maintain color technique that can be done with lightener or hair color in any shade, from natural blonde, brown or red to rainbow hues.

Which Hair Coloring Technique Should You Try?

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How to Care for Your New Hair Color

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Whether you go for a more natural sun-kissed balayage or a dramatic two-tone ombre, it is important to protect your hair with products that will strengthen and maintain your new color.

Wash with a purple shampoo designed for blonde hair to neutralize any orange or brassy tones in your newly-lightened locks and reveal a cooler, brighter blonde. Ensure your mane remains healthy and lustrous with a blonde hair mask, which will strengthen and protect lightened locks.

Just can’t decide between balayage or ombre hair? Here are some more John Frieda hair ideas.

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