Balayage vs Ombré: How to Know Which Coloring Technique Is Right for You

Written by Emilie Branch

Are you an ombré or a balayage person? Do you know the difference? To the untrained eye, the grown-out, easy highlights might appear similar, but there’s a key distinction between each technique. We reached out to celeb colorist and brand founder Guy Tang for his opinion. Below, Guy breaks down the differences between balayage vs ombré hair and even offers some advice on how to determine which technique is right for your strands.

Balayage vs Ombré

“Balayage is a highlighting technique done by painting the surface of the hair with lightener or color to create a blended natural-looking highlight or lowlight. Ombre is a hair color technique done by blending a darker color into a lighter color,” Guy clarifies.

To ensure your stylist doesn’t confuse one for the other, Guy suggests you get specific with a visual example. “I always think it’s better to show your stylist exactly what you want vs verbally telling them,” he shares. “Many people get these types of looks confused so to make sure your stylist knows that you want balayage vs ombré, provide them with exact pictures.”

Is Balayage or Ombré Best for You?

Whether ombré or balayage is best for you depends on the color effect you want, like going blonder or lowlights. “If you want to go lighter with a lived-in color look, then balayage highlights would be best,” explains Guy. “Ombré is great for those who are already light and want a lower maintenance color. You can apply a shadow root with a shade one to two levels darker than their current color and create the ombré effect easily.”

Can You Do Both Balayage and Ombré?

If you’re unsure of which to try, go ahead and take the best of both worlds. “Because balayage and ombré are color techniques, you don’t have to choose one over the other. Your stylist can combine both and with any color (blonde, brunette, red, copper). I would say talk to your stylist about color expectations such as wanting highlights to your root or blended, wanting gray coverage, low vs high-maintenance color. This will help them determine if a balayage vs ombré technique suites you.”

As for Guy’s preference of technique, he can’t decide either. “I love both and I use them often together,” he tells us. Especially if your hair is on the longer side, the techniques are a must-do. “Looks created with balayage and ombré tend to look better with hair that is shoulder length or longer,” adds Guy.

Don’t get too hung up on a versus. “Remember that balayage and ombré are coloring techniques used to create many different hair color looks.”

Now that you know the difference between balayage vs ombré, discover what differentiates balayage from highlights HERE!