We, as hairstylists, know the difference between an ombre and a balayage. But we get asked this question ALL THE TIME! Or we get an appointment request for an “ombre balayage” and we are over here thinking, “Well, which one?!” So once again, we are here to set the record straight and share with you the difference between the two styles.

Ombre is the “Style”

The word ombre comes from the French word “shadow”. Ombre is the actual style. It is the transition of a lighter shade from a darker shade. Generally, ombres work best on brunettes because it is the least subtle of all the techniques, a sombre is what we would see on blondes. That technique is more subtle, hence the word sombre. Ombre is great for the more daring girl, it is definitely more noticeable and typically more maintenance. Ombre is kind of like color blocking, there are no dark pieces left on the bottom to help keep it natural, just a nice transition between the colors. While the ombre is a beautiful look, it is also something that needs to be done right! A bad ombre can make all the difference and please don’t try to do it on your own ladies! That’s the style called Homebre and no one wants that!

Here are a few examples of some Ombres that we have done here at the salon:

Balayage is the “Technique”

The two are very similar, but there are very obvious distinctions between the two! The word “Balayage” comes from another French word meaning “to sweep”. Now, if you have ever seen someone get a balayage in the salon, this probably makes sense to you. When applying the color for a balayage, you sweep the color through small triangle sections of the hair onto a board or foil, giving it the natural transition down into the lighter color. In Balayage, there are dark pieces left on the bottom to create dimension and a more natural look. This technique looks like natural sun-kissed highlights throughout the hair. The transition is more natural and it is less maintenance than an ombre. Looking for the best balayage in San Diego, click here.

To show you some visuals of our own work, scroll down!

Hair by Sarah at Style Lounge Salon- Balayage Technique

Other Similar Techniques

Hair Painting

Hair Painting is a huge trend right now with some of the more artistic stylists. With this technique, the hair is painted freely, by hand and usually with an actual paint brush and palette. Hair should be laid flat and is typically separated by plastic wrap. The lightener or color is usually not placed in any specific pattern but where it should be seen. The hard part about hair painting, is the stylist must have a super trained (or natural) eye for this kind of thing. This technique creates natural-looking and softer tones. Plus it is much faster than foils and there is no possibility of lines of demarcation!


Babylights are super subtle and delicate highlights created using a technique that mimics the subtle, dimensional hair color seen on children’s hair. Hence “baby”lights. This look is very natural looking and creates the ultimate sun-kissed expression on the hair. This technique is very similar to highlights, with a touch of bayalage. The amount of hair in the foil is the main difference. Babylights require much less hair than traditional highlights. The result is subtle but beautiful and amazing for blonde on blonde dimension!


Foilyage is another new trend similar to the above techniques. The process essentially combines the way balayage is painted and the vibrancy that foils achieves with the color. This technique is essentially the upgraded version on balayage and a saving grace for dark hair since it incorporates foil (meaning you get more lift).

Get The Style!

Here is a few things we highly recommend when it comes to getting, maintaining and styling an ombre!

Products We Love

We absolutely love neuLASH. Real results we’re obsessed with! Try it for yourself!

Best Shampoos and Treatments for lightening your hair:

Olaplex #1 and #2 are used in the salon and is the perfect was to lighten your hair with less damage. This #3 is the perfect home care mask for pre-lightened hair!

This shampoo is a must for lightened hair! Purple shampoo is what cancels out the warmth (yellow/orange) colors and keeps your blonde looking fresh and perfectly colored!

Tools We Use:

And here is how to get those curls! This particular 1″ Iron is our personal favorite here at the salon and ideal for pretty much any hair length!

Th best blowdryer for your buck! It is one of our personal favorites and it is available to you! It has heat settings, a cool shot and not to mention amazing nozzles to direct the air flow correctly.

Brushes we Love!

You know our favorite brush by far is the Wet Brush! It is amazing for keeping your hair at its strongest and doesn’t rip or tear the hair when brushing. It is so essential to the health of your hair!

Another favorite brush of ours! The teasing comb is amazing for styling and teases your hair the correct way! Not to mention it is amazing for brushing out your curls after they have set!

Styling Products:

Here at Style Lounge, we work with Bumble and Bumble to style our clients hair to perfection. You can use the link below to get some of your own bumble and bumble product delivered right to your door!

Tonic- Primer

Tonic- Primer
Used to prime the hair before any other styling products. This invigorating primer is blended with herbs, vitamins, and Tea Tree Oil to detangle and refresh hair and scalp.

Thickening Hairspray- Primer Styling Spray

Thickening Hairspray- Primer/Styling Spray
Used to create volume and lift in the hair. Spray onto wet hair (more towards the root) for heat activated lift and fullness!

Surf Infusion- Texture Spray

Surf Infusion- Texture Spray
Used on wet or dry hair for the perfect amount of grit and texture to hold beach waves! This oil-infused salt spray enhances texture for sea-tossed waves with sheen.Used on wet or dry hair for the perfect amount of grit and texture to hold beach waves! This oil-infused salt spray enhances texture for sea-tossed waves with sheen.

Spay De Mode- Finishing Spray

Spay De Mode- Finishing Spray
Used once your style is complete to set in place with a still touchable hold! Plus, it has an exceptional memory for shape (even when brushed).

Want More? Check out why we are the best for Balayage in San Diego!