Differences between Ombre, sombre, and balayage, Which is best for your hair?

very long hair

Because they’re so popular on social media, clients often come into my salon with a photo of their favorite Instagram influencer.

Now, the issue here isn’t them fangirling over an influencer. The problem is that they want the same hairstyle as the smiling model. And it’s sometimes simply not possible.


So, if you’re considering an ombre, sombre, or balayage, it’s important to be aware of the differences between each style.

And more importantly, which one will look better on your hair, which depends on your base color and how much you are willing to spend on your new look.


  • Do you have dark hair that you’re a bit bored of, and want a way to add some brightness without completely changing the color?

If that’s the case, an ombre might be perfect for you. The ombre will leave your natural deep color in the roots of your hair, and gradually lighten until it reaches a lighter tone at the ends.


  • Now, if you like the look of an ombre, but prefer a lower maintenance hairstyle, it might be best if you opt for a sombre.

A sombre has a less noticeable difference in color between the roots and ends, which means you’ll need fewer touch ups.


Without a doubt, a balayage would be perfect for you.


Still have questions?

Not to worry, that’s normal when you’re discussing styles that, at first glance, look very similar.

So keep reading, because I’m going to help you find the best look for your hair and personal style.


In this article, I’ll discuss:

  • The differences between an ombre and a sombre
  • When a balayage is your best option


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How to choose between an ombre and sombre

ashy tone

Ombres and sombres are like hairstyle sisters: the difference between them is very subtle.

Unless you've been living under a rock, there's no way you've missed the flood of women with ombre hair photos on Instagram and Facebook.

The trend swept through salons like a tsunami, and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.


  • “Ombre” means “shadow” in French, and the style involves leaving the roots their natural color and slowly changing to a lighter color in the ends of the hair.

What does this accomplish?


  • Basically, it creates one color in the roots, that gradually changes to another in the ends.

While a traditional ombre starts with a dark brown and fades into a blond, you can create the same effect by dying your roots almost any deep color and fading into a lighter tone at the ends.

wavy hair

  • The ombre technique is versatile, customizable and suitable for long and medium length hair./su_list]

One of the biggest advantages of an ombre is how easy it is to maintain. Because the roots are left dark, you don’t have to touch them up every month.


  • Do you have straight hair? If that's the case, an ombre might not be your best option, as the transition from dark to light tends to be too obvious and look drastic in very straight hair.

The ombre style is best suited to curly or wavy hair.

Now, what about the sombre?


  • This style is very similar to the trendy ombre but has a much softer color change, which makes it look more natural.

If you're not ready for a drastic color change or have very dark hair, a sombre might work better for you.

This technique highlights your hair without a dramatic change in color between the roots and ends.


  • And, if you have layers, a sombre is a great way to highlight some strands in a subtle, soft way.

If you're looking for a less dramatic color change that won't cost an arm and a leg at the salon, a sombre might be a great choice for you.


Now, what about a balayage? If you're a blond or brunette, don't skip the next section!


Why a balayage is the best way to highlight light hair

Golden blond

Have you ever been envious of those beautiful beach girls with their perfect bodies and sun-kissed hair?


  • Well, if you have light brown or blond hair, go ahead and sign up for some surfing lesson, because a balayage will create the sun-kissed look of a real California girl.

This technique creates a natural-looking highlights. The word balayage means "to sweep" in French.

When bleaching your hair, the colorist will paint the hair the product by hand, almost like painting a work of art. And believe me, for real professionals, a balayage is a work of art.


  • A balayage creates very natural highlights a few shades lighter than your hair, which blend naturally with the uncolored hair.

The hair underneath the surface is left dark to add dimension and movement to its overall appearance. Therefore, the balayage recreates the effect of the hair that has been naturally lightened by the sun.

Because this technique doesn't use sheets that saturate your hair with color, the highlights are much more natural. Not only that, but it's almost impossible to notice when your hair begins to grow out.


  • The color transition is more natural and requires even less maintenance than an ombre or a sombre. In a balayage, there’s no obvious transition from light to dark.

Remember how I said ombres look better on curly hair?


  • Well, balayages look great on almost all hair types, straight or curly, long or short.

Not only that, but because it's almost impossible to notice when the roots start to grow out, you won't have to touch it up every month.


To leave no doubt in your mind which look is best for you, let's summarize what we just discussed.



  • If you have naturally blond or brown hair and want some sun-kissed highlights, go for a balayage.
  • Balayages look great on all kinds of hair, both straight and wavy, because the highlights and natural colors blend naturally.
  • If you have straight hair, you might want to stay away from an ombre or sombre, because the color transition will be too obvious. Of course, rules were made to be broken, and your case may be different.
  • If you don't want to be a slave to the salon and touch up your look all the time, a low-maintenance balayage might be best for you.
  • If you're looking for a more dramatic style, try an ombre! if you're looking for a more natural look, try a sombre.


When considering a new look, make sure to consider the cost, maintenance, and if you prefer a more dramatic or subtle look. Then take the leap and dare to try a new style!

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