Ombre vs Sombre - What's Better? | Salon Secret Africa
Colour Techniques

Ombre or sombre, which one's right for you? A professional weighs in

20 August 2018
balayage ombre technique
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It is said that the woman who changes her hair is getting ready to change her life. But before taking a colour leap, we first need to know which of the many colouring techniques is right for the look we want. A quick internet search on different highlighting techniques and you’re sure to come across terms like “ombre” and “sombre”. These terms sound similar but are actually two different techniques and resulting looks. Let’s break it down a bit more.


The word originates in France and can be translated as “shading”. In relation to hair, ombre refers to the overall look of a luscious mane that transitions from dark at the roots to light at the tips. The technique can be compared to colour blocking and isn’t designed to look entirely natural. So, to pull off this look you have to be somewhat daring because you will certainly grab the attention of others. Keep the look modern and opt for the balayage ombre technique. Essentially, this means your highlights will be painted on by the colourist who has the responsibility of bringing your vision to life.

long balayge


While sombre still transitions from dark to light, the blending of colour is far more subtle. There are no distinct colour changes; instead the shimmering colour shifts gradually. This means slightly less maintenance than the ombre style and could be described as the more natural and sophisticated of the two looks.

long ombre

Regional Education Developer for L’Oréal Professionnel Taryn Bloem explains: “Stylists love to balayage ombre brown hair because it’s impactful. The more drastic colour brings naturally darker hair to life with flecks of light working to create a striking iridescent glow. Lighter hair tones such as blonde and red, on the other hand, look great with the softer look offered up by the sombre style.”

There’s no shortage of hair colouring techniques out there, a fact that can make the selection process feel somewhat intimidating. That’s why a good understanding of different techniques is important, if you hope to make the right decision. Also, remember that professional stylists, with their expert knowledge and experience, are the best way to go if you intend to give your tresses (and life) the best makeover possible. So, you should seriously consider booking a colour consultation before you do anything. Use our Salon Locator tool to find your nearest professional salon.

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