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Balayage, Ombre, Highlights...What Should I Ask For?

Updated: Jan 24

It seems like there is always a new hair trend coming out! Some trends remain while others fall out quickly. It can be overwhelming seeing all of the beautiful hair pictures on Pinterest, but how do we know what to ask our stylists for? Hairstylists have their own terminology for services so it can be difficult to decipher if you're both on the same page. What if I could tell you that knowing the difference in these services will help you book your next salon appointment with confidence and ease? Let's start by diving into the difference between each of these hair services.


Balayage is a French term that means sweeping. It's difficult enough to pronounce but I tell all of my clients to think of Bali. You pronounce it as (Bahli-ahge) or (Bah-lee-ahge). Regardless of how you say it, your stylist will known what you're trying to say! It is a lightening technique that many stylists love to use because it's free hand. The stylist is able to paint the surface of the hair using sweeping motions to create a natural effect. The idea is to imitate which parts of the hair would naturally lighten from being in the sun. There are no foils involved in this process because the product needs to process in the open air. The result of this coloring technique leaves the hair with a sun kissed and subtle appearance. Balayage offers a softer regrowth than highlights, there is no line of demarcation found at the roots from using foils. Balayage is perfect for a natural look and low maintenance clients!





Ombre is another French term that means shaded. This refers to the blend and transition of one color to another. The progression in shade depends on the length and color of the hair. A gradual or dramatic shift in hue can be achieved with this technique, although the dramatic visual is most requested for Ombre. Such a look can be achieved with any color combination to make it customizable. Brunettes can easily transition into bright blonde ends, or bolder clients can enjoy a vivid hair color while keeping their roots unsaturated. Unlike Balayage, which keeps the hair natural and subtle, Ombre leaves the root shade darker while transitioning to lighter tips for a pronounced pop. Ombre is great for someone that wants a noticeable look!





Highlights are well known to most people, it's a classic lightening technique where the hair is sectioned off with foils. The foil is important when highlighting because it conducts heat better than open air processing. The lightening product can penetrate deeper into the hair to create a dramatic lift in color. The hair can be sliced in sections for thicker strands, or weaved in and out of each section for a softer look. Highlights help to dramatically lighten the hair while creating dimension, so they can be a great way to introduce someone to hair coloring.





Ultimately it's important to understand what kind of look you're going for. Bring inspiration photos with you to your appointment, talk with your stylist about which look would be best for you. Think about your lifestyle when changing your hair color, will you be able to maintain this style regularly or do you need a low maintenance option? Consultations are important for discussing all aspects of what you're looking for. As stylists it is our job to provide you with the best option to suite your skin tone, compliment your complexion and work with your lifestyle!

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