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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hair trends you should ask for 2020

It’s that time of year again. New year, new you.  But where to begin with the latest trends?  Fashion week has seen a variety of new trends of accessories such as pearls at Andrew GN.  It comes as no surprise that with it being the 20s again, there’s a resurgence of finger waves hitting the catwalks.  And featured in Chanel’s No5 Christmas campaign.  But what should you be asking your hairdresser for?  Not everyone wants to wear pearls in their hair.  So, here are some of my favourite trends that won’t be dying down any time soon.

The grown-out bangs.

Brigitte Bardot, eat your heart out.  Middle parted, grown out bangs are happening.  The great thing about this particular trend is it really is for everyone.  Not only that, it’s low maintenance and low commitment.   What could go wrong?  Ask your hairdresser for a centre parted, long fringe.  Ideally the longest length should sit on your cheek bones for the most flattering effect.  The centre can either be cut short enough to fall in to place without being in your eyes, or long enough to push aside comfortably.  Yes, it does sound a bit like curtains, and yes, the 90s is making a comeback.

The shag.

This ties in perfectly with your grown-out fringe.  Think 70’s, Farrah Fawcett.  The modern shag is all about short layers, shaping through the front and minimum density on the ends.  A far cry from the blunt lob we’ve been seeing everywhere.  But easily achievable from this.  This haircut is suitable for all hair types, and can be very flattering to add volume.  For finer hair ask your hairdresser for less layering in the length.  This is such a versatile haircut and can be worn on many lengths.  Celine’s SS 2020 campaign in Vogue features a very heavy lob, that is on par with a pageboy haircut.

The mullet.

Yes, you read that.  Anyone who knows me, knows I have been a fan of the mullet from a worryingly young age, so I’m slightly bias on this one.  The mullet can be viewed as a more drastic version of the shag, taking layers shorter, and the fringe even shorter.  It is all about business in the front, and party in the back.  Again, another extremely versatile haircut that can be worn on all lengths. 

The longer the length, the more extreme the hair cut will be.  Prada’s latest campaign features what I call a ‘mini mullet’.  This is a great example of how this style works on shorter hair.  Also consider Olivia Coleman at the Golden Globe Awards, her mini mullet is more or less a super soft pixie cut.

So, don’t rule it out just yet.  The mullet isn’t just for rednecks.  It’s an ideal way to start the journey to a shorter hair cut without sacrificing your length.  Although, if you’re bold enough to sport a proper mullet, you are probably bold enough to carry a short hair style.

The centre parting.

This is the easiest way to change your style without too much of a change.  Heck, you can even do it yourself at home.  Ask your hairdresser for a middle parting during your consultation, don’t wait until the end when they come to style it.  It may seem like an insignificant change, but it will be necessary to evaluate your cut and make sure it is balanced for a centre parting.  You may also want to add some shaping through the front, or altering the shape of any previous fringes/framing.

The balayage.

This is a trend that is not dying out.  The balayage is a great go-to colour for those who want minimum maintenance, with maximum effect.  As January hits us full force with wintery blues, it’s a great time to brighten up your existing colour.  If you’re not sure what to ask your hairdresser for, see my previous post on the difference between balayage, ombre and dip dyes here.

The face framing colour.

Straight off the back of the balayage, which saw natural sun kissed highlights around the face, we are now combining this with the classic 90s two tone trends.  Combined with a centre part for maximum effect, this trend is all about a contrasting colour in the front of the hair.  Gerri Halliwell in the Spice Girl’s prime is the perfect example of this. 

As awful as it may sound, this doesn’t have to be a yellow blonde streak in the hair.  Ask your hairdresser for a pop of vibrant colour if you fancy something different.  Alternatively, you can ask for something more subtle and not up to the root, so it appears more natural and sun kissed.

The stripy highlights.

Every client’s worst nightmare is fast becoming a reality again.  This 90’s trend is also making a resurgence.  It’s popping up all over Instagram to some very mixed opinion.  Maybe this isn’t one to ask your hairdresser for in 2020, though. 

As always, everything is open to interpretation, don’t be afraid to ask your hairdresser for a variation on any one of these styles.  They’re not all to everyone’s taste!  Let us know what you will and won’t be asking your hairdresser for this year.

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