Balayage & Ombre – Colour Choice, Maintenance and Styling Tips

What Is Balayage?

Ombre Fade Colour

Have you thought about getting a colour for the first time or refreshing your current look? Balayage is as popular as ever and in the last few years has started to include a number of variations. Translated, the French word Balayage means to “Sweep”. In hairdressing it is generally used to mean highlighting hair in which the bleach and/or colour is painted on in such a way as to create a graduated, natural-looking effect which is multi-tonal.

Ombre is a term often used to mean Balayage, however it’s a different looks.  Ombre is a more gradual blend from one colour into another. This lacks the multi-tonal appearance of Balayage, which can include natural looking ribbons of colour.

Balayage can be done using a variety of freehand techniques (hands and brush), paddle boards, foils or a combination each. With Balayage the hair is darker at the root and blends down into lighter ends. Some of your natural hair is also weaved out to add contrast and multiple tones towards the mid-lengths and ends of your hair.

Balayage: Work with your Natural Hair colour

Try and work with your natural colour at the root area. Whilst your colourist can change the root colour of your Balayage – this will not wear well and re-growth will leave a un-natural flow that won’t look great. It will also need more maintaining than if you work with your natural base. Of course if you need to cover up white/grey hair, then opt for a root colour that matches your natural.

Silvers, Greys and Metallics Balayage can hard to achieve

Be realistic with your colour goals. Silvers, Greys and Metallics are in vogue at the moment and feature heavily on social media platforms. Unless the hair is very light blonde or has been pre-lighted to very light shade it is unlikely you will get this look. Many of the pictures shared by stylists on social media require multiple bleaching processes. Silvers and greys also require regular toning and are therefore expensive to maintain.

Silvery and Grey Hair Colours

The Perfect Balayage can take time

Discuss a long term plan with your colourist – covering your next three salon visits. You end goal could be achievable, but maybe not in one salon visit. However you can gradually get to a desired shade, lighter each time. This is healthier for your hair than undergoing 2 or 3 lightening sessions in quick succession. Your hair will thank you for it.

Complimentary Colours and Tones

Pick a colour that suits your skin tone. If you are darker skinned then ash blondes might not compliment you. Consider for warmer colours such as caramels, golden blondes and butterscotch blondes.

Colour Contouring Your Balayage

Ask your colourist about colour contouring which can draw attention to certain areas of the hair by adding lighter or darker tones.  Contouring is a more bespoke colour service, designed around everyone’s unique facial structure, head shape and skin tone.

Hair Colour Contouring

Styling Your Balayage

The vast majority of Balayage pictures you see in magazine and social media platforms are waved, curled or tonged, the reason? It looks so much better, adds depth, contrast and breaks the colour up. Bear in mind if you tend to wear your hair poker straight you might not be showing off your colour at its best.

Styling and curling Balayage hair

This doesn’t mean you need to be a expert with a tong or wand, yet be able to create some movement and waves will make the world of difference. Ask your stylist to show you a basic curling technique so you can re-create the look at home.