What’s The Difference Between Balayage And Highlights?

February 29, 2024

It’s 2024, and people are all in to change how they look that makes them feel more confident and in their zone. We understand that going for full makeovers might not be what you aim for as a first-timer. Therefore, we present two options to you: balayage and highlights! Both techniques hold immense popularity and produce gorgeous results. But are they the same? No, they aren’t! Learning the difference between balayage and highlights is important to choose the best option, and this blog aims to make that easier for you.

Are Balayage and Traditional Highlights Different?

Balayage and highlights are two popular hair coloring techniques with distinguishing characteristics. Balayage is a word that originates from France, meaning “to sweep.” The procedure involves freehand painting to create a natural, sun-kissed gradient effect. This method seeks the skill and artistry of the stylist to produce the best results. Balayage is a low-maintenance style that is less noticeable as it grows out, making you look subtly beautiful throughout.

On the other hand, traditional highlights employ aluminum foils to meticulously isolate and lighten hair sections for a defined structure and appearance, resulting in a noticeable contrast. While traditional highlights are versatile and quick, they need more frequent touch-ups due to visible regrowth.

Balayage vs. Highlights: Breaking the Differences

  • Technique
    Balayage, as mentioned earlier, is a freehand painting technique that does not require strands or locks of hair with foils. This method makes room for custom color placement for a more natural look, complementing facial features and skin tones.
    Highlights, in contrast, involve lightening hair sections with the help of foils to saturate specific strands and make them pop out. This technique creates a multi-tonal effect against the natural hair, often starting closer to the scalp for a more pronounced contrast.
  • Maintenance Requirements
    Balayage needs less maintenance than highlights as it grows out more seamlessly, not giving an obvious appearance and lessening the need for frequent touch-ups. This makes it a more cost-effective option in the long run.
    Highlights, since they are more pronounced, need more frequent touch-ups to maintain their structured effect, leading to higher costs.
  • Result
    If you are in search of a blended look, balayage is your answer. It is multi-toned yet produces the desired effect. Artists blend lighter pieces throughout the hair, starting subtly from the top and gradually thickening towards the ends.
    On the other hand, highlights produce a defined effect by lightning specific hair parts closer to the scalp. Along with that, foils create a dense contrast between the base color and highlighted areas.

Closing Note

All in all, the ultimate choice between balayage and highlights depends on personal preference, the kind of look you are aiming for, along with maintenance costs. Balayage leans towards a more natural appearance and has low maintenance, while highlights require more upkeep.

Do you have more questions regarding hair color techniques? Visit Reserve Salon and Spa to learn more about ways we can help you achieve your dream hair. Get in touch with our magicians for more details on this. We are located in the following areas:

  • Creekside Park Village in Tomball, TX, dial (281) 255-0102 to connect with us.
  • Towne Lake in Cypress, TX, dial (281) 256-8357 to connect with us.



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