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Balayage vs. Ombré: What is the difference?

Both are great and may look similar, but there is still a significant difference.
Both are great and may look similar, but there is still a significant difference.Pinterest (Photos) / Sara Davis (Graphics)

Happy first week of summer!

All of last year we have heard about and saw ombré everywhere. Most women still have their hair like that now, however, balayage had also joined the beauty trends. If you remember my ombré article from last year, half of my hair was purple and I explained the trend as well as the process.

As a refresher, ombré is a dark color fading lighter. They may be different colors in general but it is supposed to be a smooth, transitioning gradient (not a dip-dye, where there is a sharp line separating the two).

Now balayage is a bit similar but definitely not the same. Typically balayage is all about looking natural. The front (your bangs area) and the ends of your hair (especially the top layer where the sun hits) are lighter than the rest. They should be subtle - not as dramatic as the ombré. In general, this approach is a free-hand dying process instead of the way ombré is even all over. Both may be a DIY project, however, it may be a harder process to do alone. In order to lighten, you must use bleach, which many agree is a pain; especially if your hair has already been chemically dyed before.

There you have it… balayage is more of a subtle natural look and usually lighter in the front. Imagine how hair would appear to look from natural sunlight as well as vertical free hand stands of hair; similar to highlights. Ombré is a little more dramatic, the dye basically goes straight across but still a gradient.

Sometimes they may really include both, but usually more of one than the other.
Will you give one a try? Which one do you like better?