Ombre, Balayage, or Ecaille? Heatwave Knows the Difference!

March 2, 2015

Ombre, ecaille, and balayage are trending hair terms that have been thrown around a lot when describing hot new celebrity styles, but do you really know what you’re asking for?  Let Heatwave clarify these terms so you get exactly the look you want.


A huge trend in 2014, ombre refers to hair that is shaded or graduated in tone or color.  This means that your hair will gradually go from a darker shade of a color at the roots to a lighter shade of the same color on the ends.  Many people opt for a more dramatic ombre and change colors completely from root to tip.  You should not see a definitive line where one color ends and the other begins, but rather a seamless blend.  Typically the hair is worn curly with ombre so that the area where the color changes is less noticeable.

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Balayage is more about technique than outcome. Balayage is French meaning “to sweep”.  When a colorist is coloring, the majority of the brush strokes are horizontal in nature to coat the front and back of the hair strands.  In balayage, the colorist “sweeps” vertically with the tip of the brush and only to the front of the hair.  Thus creating natural, sun kissed highlights.  Many refer to the resulting highlights as “babylights” because they look like the natural highlights children get when they spend time in the sun.  The placement of the highlights are not consistent and may not start at the root of the hair.  This technique has a more subtle, less maintenance look for the wearer.

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The newest trend for 2015, ecaille is a French term for “tortoise shell”.  This look is essentially combining ombre and balayage.  With smooth caramel tones, the ecaille technique is a slightly richer and darker version of your natural color paired with golden highlights and a whole lot of shine. The look, which began trending in Paris, tends to also be darker at the roots and lighter at the ends – consider it a much more sophisticated version of the ombre we know and love. Pop some balayage highlights on top of this rich shade and and a gloss to keep it rich, and you’ve got this multidimensional, bombshell look.  This look can be taken to a more dramatic level by playing with the colors and more contrasting tones.

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Some information borrowed from: and


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