Balayage vs Highlights: What's the Difference

Are you looking to add some dimension to your hair? Have you heard of balayage and highlights but aren't quite sure what the difference is between the two? Don't worry, we're here to help. In this article, we'll go over the key differences between balayage and highlights, how to determine which one is right for you, and tips for maintaining your new look.


What is Balayage?


Balayage is a French word that means "to sweep." It's a technique used to create natural-looking, sun-kissed highlights that blend seamlessly into the rest of your hair. Unlike traditional highlights, which are typically applied using foils, balayage is hand-painted onto the hair, resulting in a softer, more natural-looking effect. Balayage is a great option for those who want to add some dimension to their hair without committing to a full head of highlights.


What are Highlights?


Highlights are thin, lightened sections of hair that are typically created using foils. They're a great way to add brightness and dimension to your hair, and can be customized to suit your individual preferences. Highlights can be applied all over your head or just in specific areas, depending on the look you're going for.


Key Differences Between Balayage and Highlights 


  • Application Method: Balayage is hand-painted onto the hair, while highlights are typically applied using foils.
  • Resulting Look: Balayage creates a more natural-looking effect that blends seamlessly into the rest of your hair, while highlights create a more dramatic, contrasted effect.
  • Maintenance: Balayage requires less maintenance than highlights, as it grows out more naturally and doesn't leave a visible line of demarcation as your hair grows.
  • Customization: Balayage can be customized to suit your individual preferences, while highlights are typically applied in a more uniform pattern.
  • Damage: Balayage is typically less damaging to your hair than highlights, as it doesn't require the use of foils or heat.


How to Determine Which One is Right for You When deciding between balayage and highlights, there are a few factors to consider:


  • Your hair type: Balayage is a great option for those with thicker hair, while highlights may be a better choice for those with finer hair.
  • Your personal style: If you prefer a more natural, subtle look, balayage may be the way to go. If you're looking for a bolder, more dramatic effect, highlights may be a better fit.
  • Your lifestyle: If you have a busy schedule and don't have a lot of time for maintenance, balayage may be a better option, as it requires less upkeep than highlights.

Best Season for Balayage and Highlights

Balayage and highlights can be worn year-round, but there are certain seasons where they may be more popular:


  • Balayage is a great option for the summer months, as it creates a natural, sun-kissed effect that looks great with a tan.
  • Highlights are a popular choice for the winter months, as they can add brightness and warmth to your hair during the colder, darker months.


Recommendations for Balayage and Highlights If you're interested in trying out balayage or highlights, here are a few recommendations:

  • Find a professional stylist who specializes in balayage or highlights. These techniques require a skilled hand, so it's important to choose someone who has experience.
  • Bring pictures of the look you're going for to your stylist. This will help them understand your vision and create a customized look that suits your individual preferences.
  • Take good care of your hair after your appointment. Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner, and avoid using heat styling tools too frequently, as this can damage your hair and cause your color to fade more quickly.

Tips for Maintaining Your Balayage or Highlights Here are a few tips for maintaining your new color:

  • Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner: This will help to prolong the life of your color and prevent it from fading.
  • Avoid using hot tools too often: Heat styling tools can cause damage to your hair, so try to limit their use and always use a heat protectant spray.
  • Protect your hair from the sun: If you're spending time outdoors, wear a hat or use a UV protectant spray to shield your hair from the sun's harmful rays.
  • Get regular touch-ups: Balayage grows out more naturally than highlights, but you may still need to get touch-ups every few months to keep your color looking fresh.

How Long Will Balayage and Highlights Last?


The longevity of your color will depend on a few factors, including your hair type, the products you use, and how often you wash your hair. Generally, balayage will last for around three to four months, while highlights may need to be touched up every six to eight weeks.


In conclusion, balayage and highlights are both great options for adding dimension and brightness to your hair. The key differences between the two are the application method, resulting look, maintenance requirements, customization options, and damage potential. When deciding which one is right for you, consider your hair type, personal style, and lifestyle. Work with a professional stylist to achieve your desired look, and take good care of your hair to maintain your color for as long as possible.