Articles > BTC Hair Trend Report > Subtle Ombré is The New Balayage—5 Tips You Must Know!
Last updated: March 04, 2024

Subtle Ombré is The New Balayage—5 Tips You Must Know!

ombre is the new balayage 2023 elevated ombre hair color trend
close formula
Photo Credit via Instagram: @franckhair, @weezydidit, @megumicolor & @danielmbeauty

This Modernized, Subtle Ombré Is Topping Our Trend Charts

We all remember the vivid ombré of the 2000s. Now, in summer 2023, ombré is making a comeback. Say hello to the “new balayage”: A modernized, blended ombré that tells bold money pieces and shadow roots to take a seat.


Keep scrolling to learn the ins and out for summer’s OFFICIAL look!


Hailey Bieber owns this subtle ombré by celebrity colorist Cassondra Kaeding (@ckaedingcolor):

Photo Credit: Instagram via @ckaedingcolor


1. Breakdown what a subtle ombré is during consultation.

Before the requests hit your chair, it’s important our clients know the difference between a subtle ombré and a balayage. Unlike a standard balayage, there is not a connection of color from the root to the ends.


The deeper root falls at least to the client’s eye or cheekbone, knocking it out of the “naturally lived-in” category. It’s essential that clients understand this difference when asking for an ombré, which is why extension specialist Isabelle McGuire (@isabelle_bomane) always requests an inspo pic.


Pro tip: “In the consultation, I love to ask which part of the inspiration photo they like, and if there are any parts they don’t like,” Isabelle explains. “Often times, clients love the way the hair looks on the model, not the actual hair color. I’ll ask them to cover the model’s face and see if they still like the color.”


BTC Team Member Eric Michael Coyle (@ericmichaelhair)’s London fog-themed ombré:

Photo Credit: Instagram via @ericmichaelhair


Kendall Jenner rocks this subtle ombré by Moroccanoil® Global Celebrity Colorist Matt Rez (@colorbymattrez):

Photo Credit: Instagram via @colorbymattrez



2. Subtle ombré can be easily maintained on any Level of hair.

There is no “ideal” client for subtle ombré, though Isabelle suggests not to lift the ends more than three levels lighter than the starting base. “This will ensure the final look is blended and soft,” she says. 


This subtle end result has a lot to do with maintenance. Subtle ombré is blissfully low maintenance; Isabelle typically sees her clients every 12 to 14 weeks for a refresh.


Check out this gorgeous blend by award-winning colorist Sharon Mudavanhu (@yogacolourist) using Joico Blonde Life Powder Lightener:

Photo Credit: Instagram via @yogacolourist


We are loving this sun-kissed look by Cali-based color specialist Daniel Mora (@danielmbeauty):

Photo Credit: Instagram via @danielmbeauty
Photo Credit: Instagram via @peterluxhair


Are you ready to revolutionize your blonding game? Join BTC-U and learn the latest trends, techniques and insider tips from pros—CLICK HERE!


3. Adjust your blonding approach for a soft, gradual grow-out.

Isabelle’s blonding method of choice: A combination of extensions and strategically placed lightener. “My go-to products are always Beauty Tech Distribution Platinum Programing Albage 27D Powder Lightener plus Developer and Line One Hair extensions to create lightness in the most gentle and healthy way possible,” she shares. 


Here’s Isabelle’s combination technique:


  1. Use your extensions of choice to construct the majority of the lighter shade on the ends. This minimizes overprocessing. Isabelle prefers Line One Hair’s rooted blonde shades like C17, W15, C19, C20 or C23 for a subtle ombré look.
  2. Tip out natural ends with Platinum Programing Albage 27D Powder Lightener between the extensions for a cohesive look.
  3. Depending on the client, Isabelle may also create a custom color melt with a root shade, a midlengths gloss and an ends gloss to emphasize the dark-to-light effect.


Pro Tip: Remember to overdirect towards the face when teasing or lightening sections for an ombré look. Doing so is a key factor in creating pops of lightness without harsh lines of demarcation.


We’re loving Isabelle’s seamless contrast:

Photo Credit: Instagram via @isabelle_bomane
Photo Credit: Instagram via @cameronnichols_


4. This diamond sectioning technique perfects every ombré.

“My approach to creating subtle ombré is bold dimension,” says dimensional color specialist Meg Mizuno (@megumicolor). Naturally, her go-to diamond sectioning technique is all about seamless natural color that works for any tone of blonde.


Meg’s sun-kissed connection technique:


  1. Section the hair into the shape of a diamond.
  2. Foil to create dimensional highlights from roots to midlengths. Meg lightens with Redken Flash Lift Power 9. Leave out the face frame and ends.
  3. Formulate two additional toners for contrast: Roots to midlengths and midlengths to ends.


Meg’s rooty ombré, created using K18 Hair:

Photo Credit: Instagram via @megumicolor
Photo Credit: Instagram via @larisadoll


ICYMI: BTC’s Trend Report Just Got A 2024 Update! See The Trends HERE.


5. Don’t be afraid to add gold into your toning formulas.

As Schwarzkopf Professional® Artistic Team Member Josie Vilay (@josievilay) preaches, add gold to your toners! Gold pigment works wonders for blonde hair, adding brightness and shine without taking your blonde to a butterball-level warmth. Basically, it’ll make the bright half of your ombré really pop!


This trend isn’t just for natural tones. Spice up your ombré with creative color using Josie’s pastel gradient as inspo!

Photo Credit: Instagram via @josievilay


Even Olivia Munn is hopping on the subtle ombré train!

Photo Credit: Instagram via @ckaedingcolor
Photo Credit: Instagram via @weezydidit


Bring 2024’s HOTTEST trends back to your salon with our official trend forecast.