Are you looking for a way to change up your look without cutting your hair? Try highlights. While traditional foil highlights will always be in style, balayage and ombre highlights are still some of the most popular highlighting techniques in 2019. But balayage and ombre are not actually the same! Before you visit your colorist for some new highlights, learn the difference between balayage vs. ombre (and which one is right for you)!

What Is Balayage?

The term “balayage” (pronounced “bah-lie-AHGE””) comes from the French word “to paint.” Instead of using foils, hair colorists accomplish the balayage look by free painting highlights onto the top layer of hair.

A woman with brown, balayage hair looks over her shoulder. Balayage vs Ombre, What’s the Difference?

Since the balayage technique doesn’t limit your colorist to the rectangular shape of foil, they’re able to accomplish a subtler look that mimics the effects of natural highlights from the sun. The results are soft, dimensional highlights with movement and body. When pairing the contrast between light and dark shades with a body-boosting leave-in treatment like Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir, it can actually make hair look much thicker!

We especially love balayage highlights because they’re so low-maintenance. Balayage highlights are concentrated towards the end of the hair, leaving the roots natural with no color. So as your hair grows, the look remains seamless and beautiful. That’s why balayage highlights only need to be touched up a couple of times per year. When you compare that timing to traditional highlights, which need to be touched up every six weeks or so, you can understand why so many people choose balayage hair!

The back of the head of a woman with wavy, brown, balayage hair. Balayage vs Ombre, What’s the Difference?

Also, because balayage highlights are painted on, the look is very customizable. Your colorist can create highlights to showcase your haircut or facial features. For natural-looking, sun-kissed results, ask your colorist for balayage highlights within two shades of your natural hair color.

What Is Ombré?

Ombre is another popular highlighting technique. Pronounced “om-BRAY”, the word is actually French for “shadow.” Like balayage, ombre highlights work on all hair types, hair lengths, and on virtually all natural colors.

Side view of a woman with long, curly, ombre hair. Balayage vs Ombre, What’s the Difference?

The ombre technique uses foils to create a look with dark roots that gradually lighten as they go down the strands, with the lightest part of the highlight at the end. Ombre hair should have a smooth, gradient hair color with no harsh transitions.

Ombre highlights are bolder than balayage highlights, so they can require more upkeep (though not nearly as much as traditional highlights). But since the look is bolder, it’s not necessary to choose natural shades for your ombre highlights. In addition to more traditional shades, pink, apricot and blue make fun ombre highlight colors!

Back view of a woman’s hair. It is curly, ombre hair that goes from dark brown to ice blonde. Balayage vs Ombre, What’s the Difference?

Tips for Balayage & Ombré Hair

  • You can DIY ombre or balayage highlights at home, but we don’t recommend it! These are advanced coloring techniques, so it’s smart to choose an experienced hair colorist to get them right.
  • Look at your colorist’s social media portfolio to make sure you like their technique.
  • Bring photos of the look you want to your appointment to make sure that you and your colorist are on the same page.
  • After your appointment, wait at least 24 hours before washing your hair. Then use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner whenever you wash your hair to help maintain your highlights.
  • Some highlights use bleach to lighten hair, which can damage your strands. Use a moisturizing hair mask once per week to keep hair healthy and help prevent breakage.

If you’re seeking out balayage or ombre hair as a way to make your hair look thicker, don’t forget to take your Viviscal! Viviscal hair growth supplements work from the inside, promoting thicker, fuller and healthier-looking hair in three to six months. The combination of the exclusive marine collagen complex, AminoMar™, plus key vitamins and minerals in Viviscal supplements is clinically proven to nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth.*

Do you prefer balayage or ombre highlights? Let us know in the comments!

Existing hair growth

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DIY: Hair Highlights at Home


It’s finally summer, which means we are craving the sun-kissed look of hair highlights. Whether you’re avoiding leaving the house and just want to save a little extra money, here’s our guide to hair highlights at home.

How to Highlight Hair at Home

Hair Highlights at Home Method #1: Lemon Juice

Traditional salon highlights are accomplished with the help of hair bleach. But when you’re highlighting your hair at home, bleach can be a bit scary.

Instead, you can opt for a more natural method and highlight your hair with lemon juice.
Just mix two parts freshly squeezed lemon juice with one part water in a spray bottle.
Spritz hair, and then sit in the sun for one to two hours to let the lemon juice work its magic. Be careful not to get the mixture into your eyes!

Tip: if you’ve previously colored your hair, do not try this method at home. While virgin hair (meaning never colored) will lighten with lemon juice in the sun, it’s impossible to predict how synthetic pigments from hair dye will react to the combination of citrus and UV rays.

how to highlight hair at home

Hair Highlights at Home Method #2: Comb-On

Looking for how to balayage your hair at home? This is the answer. A word of warning though: balayage highlights are an advanced coloring technique that many professional hairstylists haven’t even mastered. Translation? Your results might not exactly be Insta-worthy, and the worst case scenario is that you’ll end up spending a hefty chunk of change for a color correction by a professional colorist.

But if your mind is already made up to DIY balayage, we recommend purchasing a color kit that uses a brush applicator. This will allow you to “paint” on the highlights, creating that oh-so-covetable balayage look. You can also use a comb-on highlight kit to DIY traditional highlights at home.

Hint: if it’s your first time attempting DIY highlights, just paint the highlights around your face. Start small! You can always add more highlights later, though we recommend waiting at least two weeks before processing your hair again to avoid breakage.

Hair Highlights at Home Method #3: Cap

The cap method is a more old school way to highlight your hair at home. These highlighting kits come with a plastic cap with small holes in it. The instructions for using this type of kit are pretty simple, and you’ll want to follow them exactly. Wondering what to expect? Most likely, you’ll first place the cap over your head, then use a hook to draw pieces of hair through the cap. Next, you’ll apply highlighting bleach to the sectioned hair, wait for twenty minutes or so, and wash off the solution.

The advantage of the cap method is that it keeps your highlighted hair separate from the rest of your hair to prevent the bleach from bleeding onto sections of hair that you don’t want highlighted. The downside is that you can’t really control where the highlights are placed. Plus, some people say that it’s painful to pull hair through the cap!

diy highlights for dark hair

3 Tips for Taking Care of Your DIY Highlights

1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

No matter which way you go about hair highlights at home, there is one thing you can’t escape: hair damage. To lighten the shade of your hair, you need to open up the protective cuticle layer of the hair. Compromising this cuticle layer can leave your hair dry and prone to breakage.

Keep your hair moisturized by using a high-quality conditioner like Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner, which lightly conditions and nourishes hair with a unique Ana:TelTM plus key vitamins and minerals.

2. Tone It Up

Another risk of hair highlights at home? Brassiness. Keep those orange tones at bay by using a purple toning shampoo every week or so.

3. Avoid Chlorine

Natural blondes already know this, but you need to be careful when exposing your newly lightened locks to chlorine. Why? Because blonde hair has a tendency to turn green in pool water.

To avoid the dreaded green hair look, wet hair with fresh water before jumping into the pool. Then make sure to thoroughly wash and condition hair after swimming. If that sounds like too much work, just avoid getting your hair wet when you go swimming!


Have you ever highlighted your hair at home? What were your results? Let us know in the comment section below!

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