It isn’t unusual for us to get a call from a client asking for an appointment for a, “balayage ombre hair colouring.” This can leave our stylists wondering, “well which one is it?” and trying to explain the difference over the phone. So for everyone who always thought balayage and ombre referred to the same thing, this article is for you!


The core difference lies in what the words refer to. Balayage is a technique for colouring hair. Using the balayage technique, our hairstylists can create an ombre look, but they can also craft highlights or babylights. Ombre, on the other hand, is the style of colouring. It means that the hair is dark at the roots and light at the ends. Ombre hair can be created using the balayage technique, but other techniques can also create an ombre look.


Balayage is a precise technique in which the hair is carefully hand painted (versus foils). The word balayage comes from the  French verb balayer, meaning to sweep. Balayage technique takes this name from the way stylists sweep the colour through the hair to create a beautiful, sun-kissed, natural look. Often, your stylist will leave darker strands of your hair near the ends and lighter strands at the roots for a more organic appearance. You will need to set aside a significant amount of time for balayage, but it creates a long lasting look that won’t require monthly root touch ups.


Ombre refers to the gradual lightening of hair, transitioning from darker roots to lighter ends. Because ombre colouring provides relief from the trouble of covering and touching up regrowth, it’s a favourite with busy, style-conscious Albertans looking for a gorgeous — but low maintenance — look. The darker roots can match your natural hair colour, which means all you’ll need are a few touch-ups over the year to keep your ombre colour looking fresh. For a more subtle gradient, ask your hairstylist about sombre colouring.


Do you love the gentle, natural look that can be created by careful balayage hand painting? Or do you prefer a dramatic ombre statement that transitions from rich brunette to the lightest blonde? Either way, be sure to only engage a professional stylist at a top rate salon, like Cactus Club Salon & Spa, to ensure you get a beautiful result with healthy hair.


Incorrect bleaching when trying to create that perfect ombre look can damage hair extensively, while overlapping the colour when painting hair can leave it brittle and fragile. Never entrust your hair’s health and look to inexperienced hands; schedule an appointment with the master hair stylists at Cactus Club Salon & Spa today.