Ombré, Balayage, and why these French words are important

Ombré, Balayage, and why these French words are important

I remember watching Keeping up with the Kardashians a few years ago and thinking to myself "Oh my word! Just LOOK at Khloe's regrowth!" Little did I know that it was all the rage and very fashionable.


Image source: Google

Khloe Kardashian, being the fashionista that she is, was showcasing what is called an ombré hairstyle - ombré being a French word meaning to go from dark to light. So what looked like highlights growing out to me, was actually very trendy.

Then a few years later South Africa caught the trend and all of a sudden everyone, even some men, was sporting an ombré. Some of us, myself included, might have still looked like it was time to touch up the regrowth, as evidenced by this picture below of myself with arguably the worst ombré in the history of ombrés.


But by now, most of us all know what Ombré means, but what about the new buzz word - balayage, that has been floating around the hair world lately?

Balayage is also a french word, meaning "to sweep" or "to paint". It is a technicque for dying hair in which the dye is painted onto the hair to give it a natural, gradual transition.

British celebrity stylist and royal hairdresser to Katerine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, Richard Ward explains, “balayage is a freehand hair coloring technique that gives a really blended natural look with no harsh or obvious regrowth lines”. Basically, it leaves a sunkissed, natural glow to your hair by using various tones of light and dark hair dye to create multiple dimensions of color. The dye is painted directly onto the hair and is not saturated right through until the tips of your hair. This is what creates the natural progression of the dye, leaving a beautiful natural look with no obvious signs of regrowth.


Image source: Google, Caramel Balayage

How does this compare to ombré?

You may be thinking that this technique sounds similar to the ombré styles that took over the world a while back. While this is sort of true, there are some key differences between ombré hair and balayage hair.

The main difference is the process or technique of dyeing the hair. With balayage, the stylist paints the dye directly onto the hair strands, leaving a natural blend. On the other hand, ombré is completed by bleaching the bottom half of your hair and dyeing a lighter shade on top using foils, a more traditional dyeing method. With ombré there might also be a more prominent difference in the hair between the two colours, whereas balayage appears more blended.

To achieve an ombré look, hair is usually made darker from the roots to the mid-shaft, and a transition to a lighter color from the mid-shaft through to the ends. If not done correctly, you could end up with a harsh and unblended look, which is why it's so important to go to an experienced hairstylist for a dye job like this one below.


Image source: Google: ombré blond

The great thing about ombré hair, is that it requires relatively no upkeep. Because the color is supposed to look like it's been dip-dyed, even as your hair grows out, you never need to worry about a root touch up!

Where Did Balayage Begin?

Balayage hair had its fabulous beginnings in the 1970s in France, at the uber exclusive Carita Salon in Paris. At the time, the industry standard was to dye hair using frosting caps and foils. Balayage was a revolutionary new technique, using strips of cotton to separate dyed hair from un-dyed hair, leading to that effortless, sun-kissed look. In the 90s, balayage hair came to the US, but only just becoming popular among the South African masses in the recent year or two. Of course, we can thank celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker in the famous Sex and the City series, who's regrowth quickly became her signature style, even as early as the 90s, where highlights as close as possible to the roots were almost as important as a perm.


Image source: Google, Carrie Bradshaw

4 Reasons To Consider Ombré or Balayage


With Winter upon us, looks and fashion are more toned down with neutral shades of darks and grey clearly visible. If you want to brighten up your Winter look, balayage may be the answer to your hair prayers. Winter is the perfect time to add a natural glow and lighter tone to your hair. Not only will you look like you've spent the early part of the year on a tropical island, but both ombré and balayage grow out beautifully, leaving you free to change up your hair again if you wish.


Balayage adds beautiful color dimension to your hair in the most natural way. If you are apprehensive about dying your hair or nervous about a dramatic change, balayage is the perfect way to meet in the middle. You know the way the sun catches the light and dark tones in your hair that you didn't even know your hair had? Balayage does the same thing, but, well, ALL the time :)


Typically, people avoid dying their hair or going for higlights because of the maintenance that follows to keep their hair strong and healthy and to keep the color looking fresh. Not only does it take time and effort, but can also be costly having to pay to add new highlights to your regrowth every 8 weeks. Because of the way balayage is hand-painted onto the hair, the colour grows out seamlessly and there are no harsh growth lines. This means less trips to the salon and less need to continuously re-dye your hair! If you invest in some good quality hair care, like the ones we proudly offer, you will be all set.


What we love about ombré and balayage is that it works well on all hair types. Whether your hair color is dark or light, or your hair type is wavy, straight, curly, short or long, balayage will most likely suit your hair, as long as you have the right hair colorist working the dye.


Image source: Instagram, @bombshells

If you have a great colorist, they will know exactly what shades will work best for your hair color and face shape, creating a dye job unique to just your hair. Read on to find out what you should ask your stylist (no, it's not "discount").

So, You're Ready To Explore The World Of Ombré or Balayage?


Natalie Alysa from Luxy Hair says consulting with your hairstylist before making the commitment to dye your hair is extremely important, to give them a chance to advise you on which shades to go with, as well as for you to get a feel for them. Most hair salons offer free consultations, so don't be afraid to ask for one. Some questions to ask right off the bat include what kind of application is unique to your hair type, where they will start dyeing or bleaching the hair, and what colors they see working well for you.

We also recommend checking out your salon's Facebook or Instagram page, as this will tell you a lot about the work they do. If you notice that every client’s balayage application looks exactly the same, and you would like something different, this may not be the right salon for you. Balayage is supposed to be unique to each person based on hair texture, color and style of haircut. This is why that first consultation with the stylist beforehand is so important.

Make sure to bring along some solid hair inspo (hello wonderful world of Pinterest) so that your stylist is able to let you know if this is something you can successfully achieve with your hair type.

Ombré or Balayage Hair With Hair Extensions

If you're still hesitant to take the plunge to dye your hair, you can achieve this look with some strategically placed hair extensions. ClipinHair offers a beautiful Chestnut brown ombré set of clip in hair extensions - ideal for the ladies who want to add dimension and colour without the permanence of hair dye. If you are going for the balayage look, any degree of brown will match with the chestnut brown clipins, because a 100% blend is not what you're going for.


In addition to the Chestnut, we also have a Toffee Blonde Ombré set - ideal for women with lighter hair, or who want to go for a more prominent colour change. Even more fun, save this style for a special night out and totally transform your look in just a few minutes!


So, are you ready to transform your hair? Do you currently have a balayage hair color? Which balayage shades would you like to see ClipinHair create? Be sure to let us know in our Instagram comments, or email to

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