If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through endless Instagram hair transformations, you’re not alone—studies show that 70% of salon-goers seek inspiration online before making a hair color change. One debate that often pops up is Balayage vs Highlights. So, let’s dive in and explore the ins and outs of these popular techniques to help you make an informed choice.
Balayage and highlights are both popular hair coloring techniques, but they differ in application and result. Highlights use foils for a more uniform, streaky look and are ideal for fine to medium hair. Balayage involves freehand painting for a natural, sun-kissed effect, best suited for medium to thick hair. Your choice depends on your hair type, desired look, and maintenance preference.
Ready to transform your tresses but unsure which route to take? Stick around as we unravel the pros and cons of Balayage and highlights to help you make the perfect choice for your locks.
What is the Main Difference Between Balayage and Highlights?
The main difference between Balayage and Highlight is the technique in which they’re applied. Let’s take a look closer at each treatment so you can better understand the process of both.
When it comes to color placement and technique, highlights and Balayage are worlds apart. Traditional highlights involve a meticulous process where strands are isolated using foils.
This allows for a more precise application of the lightener, resulting in a uniform, streaky result. The use of foils also speeds up the lightening process, as they trap heat, allowing the lightener to work more efficiently.
On the other hand, Balayage employs a freehand painting technique. The stylist applies the lightener directly onto the hair, sweeping it on with a brush. This results in a more natural, sun-kissed look, as the color is concentrated at the ends and gradually fades as it moves up towards the roots. The absence of foils means the lightening process is slower, but it also allows for a more customized application.
So, which technique is right for you? If you’re after a more structured, uniform look, highlights are the way to go. But if you prefer a more natural, low-maintenance style, Balayage could be your best bet.
Which One Is Better for Your Hair? Balayage vs Highlights
Choosing between highlights and Balayage often boils down to a few key factors: your hair type, the look you’re aiming for, and how much maintenance you’re willing to commit to.
For fine to medium hair types, highlights offer a more controlled and precise application. They’re ideal for those who prefer a uniform, structured look. However, keep in mind that highlights require more frequent salon visits to maintain the color and manage grow-out.
Balayage, on the other hand, is better suited for medium to thick hair. The freehand technique allows for a more customized application, resulting in a natural, sun-kissed glow. It’s a great option for those who desire a low-maintenance style, as the color grows out more gracefully, reducing the need for frequent touch-ups.
Expert opinions often lean towards Balayage for those with virgin hair or those who have not colored their hair in a long time. The technique’s less structured application makes it easier to achieve a natural look, especially if you’re starting with a blank canvas.
Maintenance: Balayage vs Highlights
When it comes to longevity and upkeep, both highlights and Balayage have their pros and cons. Highlights generally require more frequent salon visits, usually every 6 to 8 weeks, to manage the noticeable demarcation lines as your hair grows out. Additionally, you may need to invest in toners and specific shampoos to maintain the color vibrancy.
Balayage, conversely, is known for its low-maintenance appeal. Because the color is applied in a more natural, gradient manner, the grow-out phase is less conspicuous. This means you can go longer between salon visits, typically around 10 to 12 weeks. However, it’s still advisable to use color-protecting products to prolong the life of your Balayage.
Regardless of the technique you choose, both will have some impact on your hair’s health over time. Frequent lightening can lead to dryness and potential chemical damage. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow a robust hair care regimen, including deep conditioning treatments and heat protectants, to mitigate these effects.
Cost: Balayage vs Highlights
In terms of pricing, Balayage generally comes with a higher price tag, often ranging from $150 to $250 per session. The cost reflects the specialized skill set required for the freehand technique, as well as the customized nature of the service.
Traditional highlights, on the other hand, are usually less expensive, with prices typically falling between $75 and $150. The process involves the use of foils and a more systematic application of color, which often takes less time and resources compared to Balayage.
Keep in mind that these are general estimates and actual costs can vary based on factors like location, stylist experience, and the complexity of the service. Always consult with your stylist for a tailored price quote.
Length of Salon Visit: Balayage vs Highlights
The time required for each hair coloring technique—Balayage and highlights—can vary based on several factors, such as the complexity of the desired look, the length and thickness of your hair, and the stylist’s level of expertise.
Traditional highlights usually take around 1.5 to 3 hours to complete. The process involves sectioning the hair, placing it in foils, and then applying the lightener. The foils are left in place for a specific amount of time to achieve the desired level of lightness, followed by rinsing and toning.
Balayage, on the other hand, can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. The technique involves freehand painting, which is more time-consuming but allows for a customized, natural-looking result. The absence of foils means the lightener works more slowly, and the stylist may take additional time to ensure the color transitions smoothly from roots to tips.
So, Should You Get Balayage or Highlights?
So, should you get Balayage or highlights? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. If you have fine to medium hair and prefer a more structured, uniform look, highlights are your go-to option.
On the flip side, if you have medium to thick hair and are seeking a natural, sun-kissed glow with lower maintenance, Balayage is the better choice. Consult with your stylist to tailor a hair color strategy that aligns with your specific needs, lifestyle, and hair type.
Hey there, I’m Jennifer M. Lowes, but my friends call me Jenn. Born and raised in sunny California. By day, I’m a freelance makeup artist transforming everyday people into their best selves. By night, I’m here on this blog, sharing my favorite nail designs, makeup tips, hair styling techniques, and much more.