Style & Beauty
Ombre, Balayage, and Melting, Oh My! Your Guide to Falls Hottest Hair Color Trends.
8/10/2016 1:31:01 PM

Just a few years ago, hair color was pretty straightforward: natural, highlighted or colored, with lowlights available for the most daring among us. Fast-forward to the Instagram age, and hair has gotten seriously complicated. Rainbow colors and foreign-sounding techniques abound, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While some of these newer color techniques, like ombre, balayage, and color melting sound confusing, they’re actually great for subtle updates to hair color that are stylish without being over the top. Here’s a rundown of the differences between the techniques.


Ombre comes from the French word for "shadow” and refers to the transition from a darker shade to a lighter one. The effects can range from intense to very subtle. Remember how as a child, hair got lighter in the summer and grew out during the winter to create a natural two-tone, effect? That’s the goal of the ombre look, which works really well for natural brunettes looking to lighten up without committing to all-over hair color. Stylists can blend the color a little or a lot and vary shades to make the look dramatic or natural, depending on customer preference.


The term "balayage” also has its roots in French; it means "to sweep.” Think of balayage as ombre 2.0. It’s more blended, and therefore much more subtle than a straightforward ombre look. Instead of the two-tone, darker on top, lighter on bottom look, balayage involves a careful painting of color. Stylists sweep a lighter color on triangular sections of hair, blending the color from the top down so the darker roots and lighter ends are better blended. A few darker pieces are left at the bottom for a more natural look as well. It’s a great technique for those looking to grow out old color or just freshen up without making a drastic change.

Color Melting

In 2014, dip-dying, or coloring just the ends of hair, often in rainbow colors, was all the rage. But in 2016, the business-on-top, party-on-the-bottom style looks a little dated. Instead, rainbow haired Instagrammers are going for a "melted” look involving shades that blend into one another, making for a gentler effect. To get the look, a colorist saturates the ends of the hair and then slowly lightens up toward the middle, reversing the effect at the roots, so the two colors blend. For example, lavender might fade to turquoise or, for those seeking a less drastic look, auburn roots might connect with honey blonde ends for a subtle transition from red to blonde.

Let’s face it, hair color has never been a low-maintenance affair, and while these three techniques mean a little more time at the salon, the effects are stunning. If you’re considering making the change, ask your stylist for advice about which look fits your upkeep preferences and overall hair goals.

Posted by: Emily Alford | Submit comment | Tell a friend


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