Balayage Vs Highlights: Know the Differences

Are you planning to color your hair?

If the answer to the above question is yes, then there is a high chance that you will be confused between two choices – balayage and highlights. Here, we will solve your confusion about balayage vs highlights.

In this blog, we will discuss everything about highlights vs balayage.

What is Balayage vs Highlights?

balayage vs highlights

Here, we’ll explain what is balayage vs highlights.

The two most popular hair coloring techniques are balayage and highlights, and balayage versus highlights compares these two.

What is Highlighting Hair?

Highlighting involves lightening a few strands of hair. You can select any color for highlighting but keep the color lighter than the natural hair color. The highlighted sections will give an attractive look.

What is Balayage?

balayage vs highlights

Balayage is another method for highlighting hair. However, balayage and conventional foil highlights are not the same. Later, we’ll talk about it.

The French word “balayer,” which means “sweep,” is where the word “balayage” comes from.

In the freehand painting method, known as balayage, the color is applied randomly. Here, color is “swept” into haphazard hair strands to create a super-blended, subdued, warm, sun-kissed appearance.

In comparison to conventional highlights, the color is applied differently. In order to blend, the application is very thin at the top of the hair section, and it gradually thickens as it travels through the mid-shafts and ends of the hair. This results in highlights that look softly brushed and natural.

What are the Highlights?

balayage vs highlights

Highlight or Traditional highlights or foil highlights are a popular technique used in hair coloring to create precise and controlled placement of lighter strands. The process involves sectioning the hair and applying a color mixture onto small sections using foils.

The foils help isolate the strands, allowing the color to develop without interference from surrounding hair. Foil highlights are known for their versatility, as they can be customized to achieve a range of effects, from subtle to bold.

They are particularly effective in creating defined, uniform highlights and are commonly used to achieve a more traditional, uniform look compared to freehand techniques like balayage.

With highlights, you can get depth, texture, and volume to the hair. You will also get a glow to the skin.

Balayage vs Highlights on Dark Hair

balayage vs highlights

Here, we will discuss balayage vs highlights on dark hair.

Balayage and highlights are both popular hair coloring techniques for dark hair, but they offer different effects.

Balayage involves hand-painting color onto the hair, creating soft, natural-looking, sun-kissed highlights. It blends seamlessly with the base color and grows more subtly, requiring less maintenance. On the other hand, traditional highlights use foil or cap methods to achieve more defined, uniform streaks of color. This technique provides a bolder contrast and can be used to create a more dramatic look.

The decision between balayage and highlights ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired result, whether it be a subtle or dramatic change.

Balayage vs. Traditional Foil Highlights: Major Differences

balayage vs highlights

Let’s see the balayage vs highlights side-by-side comparison.

Here are some comparisons between balayage and highlights.

Application Procedure

Balayage works on the freehand painting technique. Therefore, the dye is applied randomly in this technique. When we talk about the traditional highlights, it needs quite a vast systematic approach. The sections are planned strategically planned to achieve the desired results.

Final Result

In balayage, the underside of each area is left dark because the color is mostly concentrated on the top. As a result, the colored areas mix in with the hair more naturally and flawlessly.

The vivid streaks of hair sections are given by typical highlights, which creates a contrast, on the other hand.

Application Region

The hair is highlighted using balayage from the mid-shafts to the ends. Traditional foil highlights have saturated areas from root to tip.


Balayage will need maintenance for a long time. And when we talk about traditional highlights, it will need touch-ups on a regular basis to grow your hair.

Level of Personalization

The hair specialists can personalize the balayage procedure to accentuate your features or frame your face. However, there is no scope for personalization for the traditional highlights.

Time Taken

Balayage can take around 45 minutes, but if you have long hair and want layered balayage, the time would go for 3 hours. If we talk about the traditional highlights, it may take one hour to three hours as per the condition and status of your status.

Pros and Cons of Balayage and Highlights

balayage vs highlights

When it comes to deciding between balayage vs highlights, there are a few things you should take into account. Consider your hair type, desired maintenance level, and the overall look you’re hoping to achieve.

If you’re undecided between balayage hair vs highlights, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each technique below:

Balayage Pros

Here are the benefits of Balayage:

1. Low Maintenance

Since balayage doesn’t use foil, there’s no need to schedule touch-ups as often. The grow-out is also much more subtle since the color is applied freehand.

2. Sun-Kissed Look

Balayage hair is perfect for those who want a sun-kissed look without having to spend time in the sun.

3. Natural Results

If you’re looking for a more natural look, balayage is the way to go! The hand-painting technique allows for a soft gradient of color that looks effortless and chic.

Balayage Cons

1. High-Maintenance

Although balayage is usually low-maintenance, it can require more frequent touch-ups if you have darker hair or very curly/coarse hair types.

2. Fades Quickly

Since balayage is applied freehand, the color tends to fade faster than highlights, so you may need to schedule more frequent touch-ups to keep your look fresh and vibrant.

Highlights Pros

1. More Controlled Results

Highlights are great for those who want a more precise look. The foils allow for a sharper contrast between the light and dark sections of the hair, which can create an edgier result.

2. Long-Lasting Color

Highlights tend to last longer than balayage since they’re sealed in foil, making them perfect for those who don’t want to worry about touch-ups as often.

Highlights Cons

1. Maintenance

Highlights require much more upkeep since they’re done with foil and need to be touched up regularly to maintain their look.

2. Fading Lines

With highlights, you run the risk of having a visible line of demarcation as the color grows out, which can look unnatural.

Which Factors to Consider When Selecting Between Balayage and Highlights?

balayage vs highlights

When deciding between balayage vs highlights, there are several factors to consider that can help you make an informed decision. The following are important points to remember:

1. Desired Look

Think about the appearance you wish to attain. Balayage typically creates a more natural, sun-kissed effect, while highlights tend to add more contrast and dimension to the hair.

2. Hair Color

Think about your current hair color and how you want it to be transformed. Balayage creates subtle, blended transitions between colors, whereas highlights offer more pronounced streaks or strands of color.

3. Skin Tone

Take your skin tone into account when choosing between balayage and highlights. Balayage can be customized to complement various skin tones, while highlights can be tailored to create a contrast that suits your complexion.

4. Maintenance

Consider your maintenance preferences and schedule. Balayage often requires less maintenance since the color is applied in a way that allows for more natural regrowth. Highlights, on the other hand, may require more frequent touch-ups to maintain their desired appearance.

5. Budget

Evaluate your budget for hair color services. Balayage can sometimes be more expensive as it often involves a more artistic approach and requires specialized skills. Highlights can vary in cost depending on factors such as the number of foils used and the complexity of the color application.

6. Hair Type

Take your hair type into consideration. Balayage can work well on various hair textures, while highlights can be adapted to enhance specific features of your hair, such as adding volume or depth.

7. Consultation

It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional hairstylist. They can assess your hair condition, listen to your preferences, and provide expert advice on whether balayage or highlights suit you.

Remember, both balayage and highlights offer beautiful results, so consider these factors to determine which technique aligns best with your desired outcome, lifestyle, and budget.

How to Maintain Healthy Hair After Coloring?

If you’re considering coloring your hair, you may be wondering what the best way to keep your hair healthy is. Here are some tips for maintaining healthy hair after coloring:

  1. Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. Look for sulfate-free products that are made for colored hair.
  2. Avoid washing your hair every day. Overwashing can strip away natural oils and moisture, leaving your hair dry and brittle.
  3. Use a leave-in conditioner or serum. These products can help to replenish lost moisture and protect your hair from heat damage.
  4.  Limit your use of hot tools. Let your hair air dry as often as possible, and use heat styling tools sparingly. When you do use them, make sure to use a heat-protectant product first.


1. Does a Balayage Last Longer Than Highlights?

The fact that the balayage lasts so long is one of its greatest advantages. A balayage typically lasts three to four months.

2. Is Balayage More Expensive Than Highlights?

Balayage costs can differ from salon to salon. But typically speaking, it is more expensive than the highlights.

3. Is Balayage Good for Straight Hair?

Although it works well on straight hair as well, balayage looks best on curly hair.

4. Is Balayage Damaging to the Hair?

Balayage does significantly less harm to hair than other hair coloring methods.

5. What Is the Alternative to Balayage?

Balayage can be substituted with ombre.


At last, we would say that debate between balayage vs highlights is old. Whether you want to go for balayage or highlights is solely your choice. But in this blog, we have mentioned all the information regarding balayage and highlights. So, this blog would be very much helpful in taking the right decision.

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