Balayage Ombre

Element Hair is dedicated to helping our clients understand what they are looking for so they can feel confident in their new hairstyle – which is exactly why we decided to write this blog about different hair painting techniques!

A question a lot of our clients have is, “What are the differences between balayage, ombre, sombre, and colour melts?” The main difference that these techniques have to offer are that they are done by free-hand hair painting rather than using traditional foil methods allowing more freedom in colour placement and a more personalized look.

Balayage, ombre, sombre, and colour melts are all highlighting techniques used to create your custom hair colour. With all of these choices, it’s hard to know where to start when figuring out your perfect look.

Continue reading below to find out what makes each technique unique and to find which technique is the right one for you!


Balayage is a subtle way to highlight the hair so that it looks naturally sun-kissed.  This way the hair colour creates a completely natural glow to the hair – as if you have been in the sun all summer!

The technique involves only lightening the surface of the hair to create the illusion of light and shadow. By highlighting the hair in panels, it creates emphasis based on how the sun would naturally hit your hair – your hair can now look sun-kissed all year long!


A colour melt is all about blending. It is similar to an ombre but it uses multiple shades to create a seamless transition from root to tip. The idea behind this highlighting technique is shading – moving from a dark tone, to a medium tone, to a lighter tone.

A fun way to incorporate a colour melt into your hairstyle is with a fun pop of colour. Blues, violets, and pinks can flow seamlessly with your natural hair colour. By using the colour melt technique, the end result is a beautiful blend of colours.


Ombres are all about contrast. The hair is generally darker at the roots through the mid-shaft while the ends are lighter and brighter.

The ombre look can be either warm or cool toned, ranging from a rich chocolatey brown blending into a soft caramel or a funky grape violet shifting into lavender-lilac. This look is great for clients who are looking for a low maintenance hair colour, or for clients who want to lighten up their look without the commitment of traditional highlights.


Sombre, or “soft ombre” is a subtle version of the ombre look. There typically isn’t a drastic change in hair colour from root to tip but rather a soft, lightening effect as the hair colour reaches the tips of the hair. The hair colour melts seamlessly through the hair creating a more naturally dramatic look compared to the traditional ombre. This look is great for clients who are new to highlights or who just want a subtle look to brighten up their hair!

So whether you’re looking for a subtle look or dramatic change, we’ve got you covered. Set up a consultation with one of our talented stylists at Element Hair and we will help you find exactly what you are looking for!