Hair Trends: Balayage and Ombré

These trends have completely taken the nation by storm in the past five years. From gorgeous, sun-kissed balayage highlights to bold and dramatic ombré, everyone is begging for these painted techniques. For those who don’t know the difference between the two, allow me to explain.



Balayage means to sweep. Some stylists say they’ve been doing it forever, but the technique came about in the 70’s with the French. Unlike foils, where you can see the pieces painted from the scalp, balayage is appealing for its more natural look. The artist simply picks up the pieces that pop out to the eye and paints them, giving a natural, sun-kissed look. The regrowth is very minimal and you can go a couple months longer between appointments.

Who is this look for? Everyone! Whether you want brightness, dimension or just simply to break up a flat color, balayage is for all.

Now let’s talk about ombré. Again, this technique is painted, but the effect is typically much more dramatic. Ombre is the fading of color. Truthfully, I suspected this trend would quickly come and go, but I was completely wrong! The color starts off with a darkened root and fades lighter into the ends. The look has been dramatic the past couple years, but now we’re seeing it take a new turn: soft and blended, and now even pops of red for fall.



Who is the look for? Anyone who wants a bolder look and to brighten up the ends. It’s especially great for brunettes because it offers a few more options.

When going to the salon for this look, it’s best to bring in a couple photos.  They don’t have to be exactly what you want; it just helps to give the colorist an idea. I have found most of the time people will say they want ombré (I think they like hearing themselves say it and they can’t pronounce ba-li-age) but they actually want more of a balayage look. Also, allow some extra time for the first visit – sometimes the previous highlights may need a bit of balancing.

–Justine Piecuch, stylist