Balayage, ombré or dip dye?

balayage ombre dip dye hair movement blog

The first taste we had of any of these was back when people were sporting some very severe dip dyes (or dip tries as my husband called them).  The trend of heavy roots while still being blonde seemed like just that – a trend.  But many years later it is still the height of fashion and a common request in the salon.  Although now no one really knows what the difference is.  In this post I’m going to attempt to answer the ever-discussed debate of whether to opt for a balayage, ombré or dip dye.

Why would I ask for one of these techniques in the first place?

Before establishing the difference between a balayage, ombré or dip dye, first let’s assess if any of them are a suitable option for you.  Essentially these colours are designed to be low maintenance.  They’re aimed at people that want to be blonde but either don’t want to visit a salon every 6-8 weeks, or don’t have the budget for it.  Generally, they do not give a ‘full’ coverage, you will still see some root/natural colour coming through. 


This is a French word; it directly translates to ‘shade’ or ‘shadow’.  This ‘shadow’ we refer to, is your natural hair colour.  So the ombré technique is one which allows you any colour of your choosing throughout your ends, while leaving a shadow (darker area) at the root.  This root area can remain your natural colour.  This is often what more people opt for as it means the colour can softly grow out until you choose to top it back up.  You can choose to have your natural hair colour at the root changed and continue to have this touched up in between ombré appointments.

The majority of people opt for an ombré as it offers a dimensional/two-tone colour that melts out and blends beautifully.  There is also the term ‘sombré’ floating around, this translates to ‘dark’.  But I feel the clever sausage who coined it in the hairdressing industry meant the ‘s’ to stand for subtle, or soft.  It generally refers to just that, a more subtle ombré.  The contrast between the shadow area and the ends being a lot less striking, yet still effective.

In conclusion, a great low maintenance option for people
that want to change their hair colour and then not have to think about it for 6 months.


Again French, this means ‘sweeping’.  In relation to your hair, it refers to the actual method used to apply the colour as a sweeping motion.  Balayage is done organically by hand painting the desired colour commonly lightener) in a sweeping motion.  This technique offers a look that is likened to a natural sun-kissed blonde.  With heavy focus being on brightening up the front hairline
around the face. 

It is similar to an ombré in that the contrasting colour (more often blonde in this case), is more heavily focused on the ends of the hair.  Unlike an ombré, the balayage sees more pops (dare I say streaks?) of light closer to the root.  Sometimes a few babylights (a fancy name for very fine highlights) are scattered in there as well to brighten up the root area.  There is still less colour at the natural root than there would be if you were having highlights, and so you still achieve a slight ‘shadow’ effect.  This means it still grows out a lot softer and slower than highlights would.

It’s a great option for someone who wants to be more blonde
and see more colour at their root and around the hairline, whilst still only requiring maintenance about every 3 months.

Dip dye

This is the look that really started it all.  The name itself conjures up images of one literally dipping some hair in dye.  The colour itself doesn’t look too dissimilar to this.  Done well, the result of a dip dye is a blend of two contrasting colours, with the demarcation area being relatively obvious.  The difference between this and a balayage and ombré is that whereas they offer a more natural look, that looks like either a grown out or soft colour, the dip dye is a more severe, ends focused colour.

I personally favour a back-brushing technique when doing a dip dye.  Taking sections of hair and
back-brushing them and applying colour to the ends, this allows a perfect melt out of the colour.  Sections are worked at the same level so that the result is a uniform melt.  It slowly evolved into the balayage and ombré techniques as people begun craving more colour but did not want to go straight to the high maintenance hassle of highlights.

This technique is more for those that just want to see a heavy contrasting colour on their ends.  Once done people often leave it up to a year before having it redone, or they just get addicted to blonde and it evolves into a balayage or ombré.


So now that you hopefully understand each technique a bit better to know what you are asking for, allow me to summarise.  A balayage is the technique that features colour closest to the roots and hairline.  An ombré is a bit further away and is more of a grown-out root situation.  Whereas a dip dye is a more striking look with colour just on the ends.  All techniques focus more colour on the ends than on the roots, and need topping up less frequently than highlights.

The decision as to which to have done is determined ultimately by how much light/colour you would like to see in your hair. If you are still unsure, get in touch and book a complimentary consultation to come and discuss your colour with on of the tribe.

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commonly asked hair questions hair movement blog

Should you wash your hair before a colour? How often should you wash your hair? Answering some of the most commonly asked hair questions that we are asked in the salon.

Commonly asked hair question #1

I’m losing a lot of hair, am I thinning/going bald?

While 40% of women will have visible hair loss by the age of 40, seeing more hair in your hairbrush could boil down to something much less concerning.  I don’t ever take this question lightly, and my first question is does it feel thinner to you?  If you are uncertain about the answer to this, but have just noticed more hair in the drain when you wash it, then it could well be a simple change in your hair routine that is making it appear that you are losing more hair than usual.  

On average we lose about 50 to 100 hairs a day, it is a very normal part of the hair growth cycle known as the telogen phase.  If you are tying your hair back more than usual, you are not giving that hair that has fallen through the day anywhere to go. So when you do eventually take it down and brush it out you will see a lot more hair coming out than usual because normally that hair is freely escaping your head.  The same situation occurs if you are washing your hair less frequently; that hair has come away from the follicle but until you give it a good washing, it’s just hanging around in your mane all waiting to make a break for the drain.

Commonly asked hair question #2

How often should I get my hair cut?

My honest response to this the first time I cut a new client’s hair is that honestly, I can’t say for certain.  If you’ve just had a fresh new ‘do, and you absolutely love it and want to maintain that length then on average it is recommended that you should get a hair cut every 6-8 weeks.  If, however you are trying to grow your hair but want to have regular trims to keep it healthy I’d recommend a cut every 3-4 months. 

The reasoning behind this?  Hair grows – on average – 1cm every 4 weeks.  Therefore within 6-8 weeks your lovely haircut has grown a whopping 1.5-2cm. Which may not sound like much but if you have a hair cut you love and are managing well you will definitely notice this difference.  This then also makes sense as to why I would suggest 3-4 months for growing hair, as a decent 1cm trim after this length of time will still leave 2-3cm that have grown since your last visit.

If you have had a change in hair style – which is usually when people commonly ask this question – then it very much depends on how you manage the style at home.  If you find that the first time you wash and style your hair it is perfect and does not get any better over the following few weeks, then you need an appointment every 6 weeks to maintain this super haircut.  If, however, you find that it takes a week or two to get the hang of it (or ‘settle’, as some people like to say) then you can probably push to 8 weeks or more.

Commonly asked hair question #3

Should I wash my hair before a colour?

There is an ongoing internet myth that you should never wash your hair the day you have it coloured, so let’s just break this one down.  While a bit of natural oil on the scalp can help create a protective barrier from the hair colour, excessively greasy hair can slow down the colour’s process.  First, understand the difference between lightener (commonly referred to as bleach, a term I refuse to use as that is what you put down the toilet) and a tint. Lightener is used in the blonding process, you may have it painted directly onto your scalp, or you may have it isolated in foils for highlights.  A tint is commonly applied straight to the scalp often to darken or cover grey hairs.  So let’s go through each example one by one.

On scalp lightener.

Prior to having this done I would not recommend washing your hair in the 48 hours prior to your appointment, as this is a very harsh process and your natural oil will be essential in protective your scalp from the inevitable burning sensation you will feel throughout this process.  I would also recommend avoiding scratching, brushing or generally aggravating the scalp in any way 24 hours prior to your appointment as this can cause more irritation.

Lightener in foils.

If you have blonde highlights done this means you are having lightener placed on the roots as close to the scalp as possible and contained in a foil.  This means that no colour is going to be coming into contact with your scalp, so there is no reason to need a protective layer of natural oils, therefore you may wash your hair the morning of your hair appointment if you feel necessary.  I would suggest that you if you do wash your hair,then give yourself a gentle shampoo and don’t scrub the scalp excessively. This is just in case you do require a toner, but also as it will be getting a thorough wash after your highlights. 

Please also bare in mind that your stylist will be working on your hair for up to an hour without gloves on during the highlighting process, they will also have to get a good weave to achieve the best highlights. Therefore, please don’t every turn up with incredibly greasy hair for highlights, it’s highly unpleasant and makes it harder to work with the hair.

Tint on scalp

When having a tint on the scalp you can wash your hair up to 24 hours prior to your appointment.  If you are prone to having a sensitive scalp, then avoid any scratching or brushing as these can lead to the tint giving you a mild irritation.  Your hair does not need to be either dirty or clean for this service, but your hairdresser does have to be face to face with it so please don’t make it unpleasant for us.  If you’ve had a particularly sweaty session at the gym that morning then washing your hair will not affect the colour itself, just make sure your hair is dry for your visit to the salon and avoid scrubbing too hard so not to causes any irritation.

Commonly asked hair question #4

How often should I wash my hair?

This depends on a multitude of factors, but the golden rule is that you should avoid washing your hair every day.  There are a few reasons for this, mainly because you build up natural oils on your scalp, washing every day will continuously remove these and leave your hair dry and dull.  You will also find it will cause your colour to fade a lot faster, and it leads to more heat damage as you are then presumably drying and styling it every day.  It also means you’re getting out of bed earlier each morning, need I say more?

If you frequent the gym every day and feel you need to wash away the sweat, I would recommend giving your hair a good rinse and just applying conditioner to the ends.  If you do it because it means you can dry and style more volume into your hair, try a dry shampoo every other day.

I personally feel that washing your hair 2-3 times a week is enough with a good deep cleansing shampoo.  If necessary, washing your hair every other day is not a problem, but if you are blow drying it each time then use a form of heat protection to avoid damaging your ends.

That’s all for now.

I hope that helps you in your quest to many happy hair days.  If you have any more questions, contact us and we’ll be happy to answer them or add them to future posts.

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To cut or not to cut?

cut or not cut hair movement blog

That is the question.  In doing some research into what topics to hit on for a new blog post, I’ve noticed on Twitter that the ultimate question is whether to cut your hair off or not.  It seems that people not only ask their friends and family, they take to the strangers of the internet for an honest opinion.  To cut a long post short (see what I did there?), only you can decide whether to cut or not to cut your hair.  I can only help you asses the pros and cons of this decision, and that my friends is what today’s post will entail.

Without delving into the deep-rooted psychology of the matter, the first question I would ask anyone that comes to me with this dilemma is; “why?”.  If you are just fed up with your hair, a drastic change is not always the answer.  Let’s go through a few of the most common reasons and analyse them.

“I’ve had long hair for ages, it’s time for a change.”

This is probably my favourite reason; it usually leads to a super-fun creative haircut.  If you’ve swapped between long and short hair in the past then it’s far less daunting chopping it all off.  I feel like this is one of the most valid reasons and one that honestly stumps me.  If you don’t struggle to manage your hair and you’ve been considering it for more than 24 hours then go for it!  Ideally, I’d want to see more than one image of your ideal new look to show that you have actually been considering it.   If you can’t find at least 5 images of something you like then maybe just buy a new lipstick instead.

“I can’t do anything with it.”

How long has it been since your last hair cut? Were you managing it well when it was freshly cut?  If so, you just need it cutting back into shape.  It’s actually quite surprising what a difference half an inch off can make to the manageability of your hair.  If, however this has always been the case then yes, it probably is time for a change.  It may not need to be drastic, but enough to make it manageable.  If you’re not sure how often you should have your hair cut refer to my post on other commonly asked hair questions.

“I’ve had a bad week.”

Okay, this one covers a bit more than just that.  If you’ve recently come out of a relationship, started a new diet, job or had any big changes in life, then don’t do it.   Changing your hair style is one of the easiest things to do.  It’s cheaper than a complete wardrobe over haul.  It’s also something you put in someone else’s hands, so it’s a bit easier to do spur of the moment.  Everyone goes through life’s ups and downs, but you just have to ride that wave.  Don’t make any changes to your appearance that you may regret when you come out of the dark period.  It will pass, and you will only associate your new look to bad times.  Change your hair when you’re happy and it will remind you of that feeling every time you see a photo of it or catch your gorgeous new reflection in a shop window.

“But what if… It doesn’t suit me?”

So many people question their decision to go for a chop because they just assume it will be a bad idea.  But it doesn’t have to be.  A huge reason holding people back is suitability.  A lot of people think short hair won’t suit them.  It makes me sad in my heart the number of times someone has sat in my chair and said their face is ‘too fat’ or their chin ‘too pointy’ or any other put down.  We all have features we don’t enjoy, my job as a hairdresser is to flatter the features you love.

Everyone has a different face shape; a hairdresser’s job is to analyse this for you and work out what shape they need to create to best compliment this.  Don’t worry about suitability when you are looking at styles.  You are your own worst critic so may find you discard something that could be made to suit you because you feel otherwise.  Take loads of images to your stylist when you go to discuss it with them.

“But what if… I regret it?”

It’s also an incredibly liberating experience, as I said above though, you shouldn’t do it because you want to feel better during a bad time.  It should be done as something to elevate a happy time in your life.  If you’ve just lost that weight you’ve been trying to lose for months, or just landed your dream job.  These are great times for a change.  When you look back on your Instagram it will be “Oh, that was that great time in my life.”  As opposed to “Oh, that was a dark time, I hate that look.”

Manageability is a huge factor in this as well.  As I’ve already touched on, changing your look because you aren’t able to style it is a very valid reason for a change.  However! You should discuss this with your stylist in detail.  If you have very unruly hair, cutting it shorter may actually make the situation worse.

“But what if… My partner doesn’t like it?”

Dump them.  Seriously, don’t let anyone dictate your look.  Be it a friend or partner.  Confidence is the most attractive thing; with it you can carry anything.  If you have found a style you love and that suits you then enjoy it.


As I said at the beginning – only you can make the final decision on whether to cut or not cut your hair off.  It can be the best thing you’ve ever done and you’ll never look back.  It could inspire you to change your look on a regular basis.  Or it could just make an unmanageable haircut, manageable.  The key to any big change is making sure you do it at the right time and for the right reason. 

If it’s not right, it can be disastrous and you will find yourself spending 6 months willing your hair to grow.  So, if after reading this post of my attempts to understand the neurosis involved in such decisions you remain unsure; just go buy a new outfit to pick yourself up instead.

‘Til next time, leave us a comment below and let us know your hair woes.

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