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Nalu Salon ~ Birmingham


What is the Difference Between Balayage and Ombre?

If you are having a difficult time deciding between Balayage and Ombre, you are not alone. Most people do not really know the difference. In this article we will do our best to help you understand the differences between the two salon color treatments so that you can make the best decision for your hair the next time you are in the salon.


For starters, Balayage is considered more of a vertical painting technique, in general it does not necessarily go all the way to the roots like highlights do, Balayage is a more thought out process than highlights; and Ombre is a more gradual horizontal painted color application and considered to be more of a drastic looking style.


In more detail, it is all about how the color is applied. With Balayage, usually not all ends of your hair are affected and the transition between dark and light will be more natural looking with much longer painted strokes of color. Balayage makes you look like you just returned from a sun kissed summer vacation.


With an Ombre hair color technique all the ends are going be affected and the transition from the deeper roots and light ends is significantly apparent. The definition for Ombre is the French word for “color that is shaded or graduated in tone”.


In both cases, it is not guaranteed that your hair will lift that much in one visit. if you are looking to lift your natural color to a much lighter state, your stylist will probably need to work on achieving your desired color over a few visits. Most hair salon stylist will tell you that a slower lift is a safer lift.


The initial timing involved for both services is going to be a lengthier appointment…sometimes 2.5 to 4 hours, but then the upkeep will transition to normal color of approximately 2 hours per visit (Obviously always depends on length and thickness).

Both hair treatments, Balayage and Ombre, are considered specialized and generally require a much higher beauty salon budget because of the stylist’s time involved in the process.


The average cost of Balayage highlights starts at about $125 for light, partial coverage on short hair, and from $150 to $300 for doing a full head of extra-long hair in several different tones. In comparison, Ombre is about the same in price.


Another question often asked is Balayage or Ombre damaging to your hair? The answer is that the whole process can be done without ammonia, so it’s no more damaging than any other color or process. Balayage is less damaging than a traditional foil.


With that said, if you are getting Balayage or Ombre treatments to your hair it is vital that you take care of your hair’s health for achieving and maintaining the color. When your hair is colored in any way, whether it is darkened or lifted to a brighter color it changes the pH balance of your scalp. A good stylist will consult with you about what is best to keep your hair feeling and looking healthy.


Wondering how long Balayage or Ombre treatments will last? Many experts would say between ten and twelve weeks, but this will depend on many factors, like the products that were used for the treatment, aftercare, and of course hair type.


Both Balayage and Ombre are great for anyone that is looking for low maintenance color. Because the color on both Ombre and Balayage never come fully to the root, you will be able to go longer between appointments.


We are often asked “Should I get highlights, Balayage or Ombre?”

Our experts say that foils tend to work best when taking dark hair four or more shades lighter. The same is true if you want hair that has a lot of contrast with both highlights and lowlights or prefer an even distribution of color. If you are looking to add non-uniform chunks or painted strokes of color, Balayage is a better choice and Ombre is the best choice if you want a more drastic look.


Choosing which one is right for you really depends on the look you are trying to achieve. Our team at Nalu Salon is full of color experts. We will help you make the best decision for your desired look and hair type. Call for a consultation 248-566-3900.