Balayage vs. Highlights: Understanding the Difference

What is the difference between balayage and highlights


In the ever-evolving world of hair color trends, two techniques have risen to prominence: balayage and highlights. As a busy, fashion-forward individual, your hair is your crown, your statement piece, and understanding the difference between these two prominent techniques can be crucial in determining the best fit for your lifestyle and style preferences.

What is Balayage?

Balayage, derived from the French word meaning ‘to sweep’ or ‘to paint’, is a freehand coloring technique where the color is painted onto the hair to create a graduated, natural-looking effect. Unlike traditional coloring methods, balayage does not use foils. Instead, the colorist applies the color by hand, allowing for a more natural and less uniform look.

The result? A soft, sun-kissed finish that looks like you’ve spent a summer on the beach rather than in a salon chair. Balayage leaves your hair with a depth and dimension that is hard to achieve with any other coloring technique.

Advantages of Balayage

One of the main benefits of balayage is its natural and sun-kissed appearance. Since the color is applied freehand, it creates less noticeable regrowth lines, allowing for less frequent touch-ups compared to traditional highlights. This also contributes to the longevity of the color.

Moreover, balayage is highly customizable according to personal preference. Whether you want a subtle change or a dramatic transformation, your stylist can adjust the technique to meet your individual hair goals.

What is the difference between balayage and highlights

What are Highlights?

Highlights, on the other hand, involve applying color to selected strands of hair to lighten them and add dimension. This technique involves sectioning off portions of hair and wrapping them in foil to isolate them before applying the lightener or color.

The end result depends heavily on the technique used and the desired result. Highlights can range from soft and subtle, often referred to as ‘baby lights’, to bold and dramatic, often giving a more structured, patterned look than balayage.

Advantages of Highlights

Highlights are a fantastic way to add depth and dimension to your hair. They offer a variety of color choices and can be as bold or as subtle as you prefer. Highlights are also ideal for covering grey hair, as they blend seamlessly with your natural color.

In addition, highlights allow for more control over the placement of the color, ensuring that every strand is perfectly highlighted.

Comparing Balayage and Highlights

Though both techniques aim to lighten and add dimension to your hair, the application process is quite different. Balayage focuses on creating a soft, natural look with less noticeable regrowth lines, while highlights use a more structured approach that results in a more dramatic look.

As for maintenance, balayage generally requires less frequent touch-ups due to its natural regrowth process. On the other hand, highlights typically require more frequent salon visits to maintain the vibrancy and prevent noticeable line of demarcation.

What is the difference between balayage and highlights

Choosing Between Balayage and Highlights

Deciding between balayage and highlights depends on several factors. Consider your natural hair color, the look you’re aiming for, and how much maintenance you’re willing to commit to. A consultation with a professional stylist can help guide you in making an informed decision that suits your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.


Whether you opt for the sun-kissed glow of balayage or the dimensional pop of highlights, understanding these techniques equips you with the knowledge needed to achieve your ideal hair color. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hair color; it’s all about finding what suits you best.

Ready to take the plunge and transform your hair? Book an appointment or consultation with a professional stylist to start your journey to the perfect hair color. After all, your hair is one fashion accessory that you never take off, so it deserves the best!

Hair Styling & Trends