The Difference Between Highlights & Balayage

by Brianna Thompson

It is fair to say that we all love to experiment with our hair and try out new styles and trends. Two popular hair coloring techniques that have been making waves in recent years are highlights and balayage. While both techniques involve adding dimension to the hair through coloring, they have distinct differences that set them apart.

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First, let's talk about highlights. This technique involves lightening small sections of hair using foils or caps. The color is applied to the hair in a precise manner to create a uniform look. The result is a lighter, brighter look that adds dimension and depth to the hair. Highlights are perfect for those who want to add a subtle touch of color to their hair or for those who want a drastic change in hair color.

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On the other hand, balayage involves painting the hair in a sweeping motion to create a more natural, sun-kissed look. The color is applied freehand, without the use of foils or caps. The end result is a more organic, seamless blend of color throughout the hair. Balayage is perfect for those who want a more natural-looking color or for those who want to add depth and dimension to their hair without the maintenance of traditional highlights.

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Custom Color

Did you know that there are techniques that involve highlighting and balayage! Well, there definitely is a variety of ways to accomplish a new hair color. This all depends on the canvas provided to the hairstylist and the end result. Sometimes someone wants a natural look, but still bright. So, we do a mixture of highlights and balayage by using foils, backcombing the hair, air touching with a blow-dryer to diffuse hairs and create a blending technique. This is why I do what's called custom color, where I use multiple techniques to deliver the goals of my guest, of course depending on the process and starting point! I specifically love to specialize in low maintenace color, even if I am using foils and "highlighting," I always find ways to get the color to grow out nicely! To learn more about my custom color services dm me on Instagram @briannalovesbalayage_ or book a consultation online at Studio 360 Salon in Chatham, NJ. 

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Maintenance and Cost 

Another key difference between the two techniques is the maintenance required. Highlights require more frequent touch-ups to maintain the color and prevent harsh lines from appearing. Balayage, on the other hand, requires less maintenance as the color blends more naturally with the hair and grows out in a more subtle way.

In terms of cost, balayage tends to be more expensive than highlights due to the level of skill required to achieve the desired look. Balayage requires a highly skilled stylist who has experience in blending colors seamlessly, while highlights can be achieved by a stylist with less experience.


Ultimately, the choice between highlights and balayage comes down to personal preference and desired outcome. If you're looking for a more dramatic change in hair color, highlights may be the way to go. If you want a more natural, low-maintenance look, balayage may be the better option. If you are unsure, seek a specialist to customize your results with various techniques! Make sure to consult with a trusted stylist to achieve the best possible results for your hair type and desired look. We believe in customized results for each individual here at The Warehouse Salon and would love to help your hair dreams come true! Book with us today! 

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About the Author

Brianna Thompson

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