Today, I went to the hair salon, and right now I’m rocking a half blonde, half brunette haircut. I showed the hairdresser a few pictures I found on Pinterest, mostly pictures of Victoria’s Secret angel Lily Aldridge (I would KILL for her locks), and she managed to recreate it in a beachy, laidback manner. But if it wasn’t for the picture, I would’ve had an almost impossible time trying to explain how I wanted my hair. Kind of ombré, a bit of a subtle dip dye, mixed with balayage… -ish?
It made me realize even more how similar these styles can get. If defined individually, the difference is quite clear, yet I noticed how these terms are still not very common. A lot of people in my close environment had never heard of any of them, until I excitedly explained them. I suppose it’s a Pinterest-thing. Anyway, I assume there will still be a few among you who have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about, so I’m going to explain the different styles and dyes.
If you google any of these terms, all three searches will have a lot of pictures in common. Apparently, the line between them is very vague. In theory the distinctions are very clear, but in reality this obviously is a lot less easy.
Ombré: At this very moment, ombré is quite a hype. It’s actually a French word (of course, those fashionable French) that means shadow. Basically, ombré in the fashion industry just means everything that fades from one into another colour, and this is not only restricted to hair: there are thousands of objects -jewellery, clothing, curtains, nail art- in ombré shades. Basically, ombré hair is supposed to be fading in a straight line -unlike with balayage, which looks rather naturally sunkissed.
Dip dye: The word already explains the meaning: dip dye is the process of making it seem like your hair tips were dipped in hair dye. It’s similar to ombré, but the line between the natural hair colour and the dip dye part is even straighter and harsher. The second difference between ombré and dip dye is that the latter usually uses brighter, bolder, less natural colours. Hot pink, sea green, bright orange,… Go wild!
Balayage: I found this one the hardest to define in words (a picture says more than a thousand words, remember?) so I went all weak pussy on this one and copied a clear definition I found on this website:
Balayage is a hair coloring technique which is designed to create very natural-looking highlights which grow out without developing a noticeable and obvious root. This coloring technique emerged in Paris in the 1970s; the word “balayage” is French for “to sweep,” a reference to the way in which the color is applied. After crossing the pond to the United States, balayage became extremely popular in the late 1990s. In the United States, you may see balayage spelled “balliage.”
When hair is colored with the balayage process, the highlights are painted on by hand in a sweeping motion which moves from the base to the tip of the hair. At the base, the color is applied very lightly, while at the tip, the color is very heavy. The result is a chunky highlight which looks naturally sunbleached, and as the hair grows out, the root will be concealed for the first few months by the thinner color applied to the base of the hair.
So, basically this means that balayage is a more natural looking ombré: highlights getting brighter near the ends of the hair.
But if you ever browsed these terms on Google, Pinterest, Tumblr, Weheartit or somewhere else, you will have noticed that a lot of pictures in your ‘ombré’ search look suspiciously like those in a ‘balayage’ search. And even the line between dip dye and ombré is actually very vague. One could say that all natural colours (blonde, brown, black) are ombré and all bright colours are dip dye, but what about red? Or black hair ends on a blonde girl?
But thankfully, rules are meant to be broken! The only condition to breaking rules is that you know them first. I’d say you do now, so it’s okay to mix and match whichever styles you like. Rock a balayage in bright dip dye colours? Go for it. Because to be honest, I still haven’t figured out what my hair style is called exactly.
If you have any suggestions (my picture is the first one in this article), leave ‘em in the comments below!
(As usual, all pictures were retrieved from Pinterest. I’m waaaaaaaay too addicted.)