Balayage vs Highlights: Which Look Suits Your Lifestyle?

Balayage vs Highlights: Which look suits your lifesytle?


If you spend enough time at a hair salon, you may have heard of the popular balayage vs highlights debate. These gorgeous hair colouring techniques are quite similar in style, but their subtle differences have also raised a lot of discussions and comparisons between the two. There are ardent supporters for the balayage technique, while others prefer the look of highlights instead.

Both techniques have their own unique features and strengths. In a nutshell, balayage looks more natural, whereas highlights appear to be more structured. If you are interested in trying out a new hairstyle, you may be wondering what to choose when it comes to balayage vs highlights. It’s time to learn the comprehensive differences between the two techniques.





Balayage is a freehand colouring technique akin to painting. In French, balayage means “to sweep”. Balayage produces thick highlights that are just a few shades lighter than the rest of the hair. With this technique, the tips are lighter, which results in a natural sun-kissed look. Balayage also adds depth and volume to the hair. If your hair is thin, this could be a good option for you.

Even though balayage and highlights share many physical resemblances, it’s important to note that they are not the same technique. Balayage tends to be softer than highlights with less prominent regrowth lines. This means the colours should blend seamlessly with your base colour. Many people who want to try highlights, but are not sure if they would like it, start with balayage since it looks more natural and more discreet.





On the other hand, highlights are sections of hair that are lighter than the base colour. The highlights usually go from the roots to the tips of the hair. Whether they are subtle highlights on dark blonde hair, or something with high contrast like red highlights on black hair, this technique will instantly enhance any hairstyle.

Highlights are brighter and more consistent than balayage, so you should choose them if you are ready for a bigger, more noticeable change. Highlights are ideal if you want to decide how many lighter sections of hair you will have, and where exactly they will be placed.


How do the techniques work?

How do the techniques work


In balayage, a hairstylist paints the hair using a lightener without saturating it. The process starts with the bottom most section of the hair and finishes with the top section. Since the technique is freehand, the stylist does not follow a precise plan on where exactly the colouring goes. This creates a natural look where the lighter shade of hair will blend in softly with the base colour.

Highlights are done differently. The hairstylist applies the dye to the chosen sections of the hair, usually from the roots to the ends. Then, the stylist wraps these sections with pieces of aluminum foil. The foil traps in the heat, which helps to lighten the sections of hair. The size of these sections, as well as the amount and the location, can be decided in advance. With balayage, this is something that cannot be controlled.


How do you maintain the colouring?

How do you maintain the colouring


Since balayage doesn’t touch the roots of the hair, this technique doesn’t require frequent maintenance. The lighter sections of hair will keep looking natural, even as the hair grows. Most women with balayage can go five to six months without touching up. If you apply a new balayage on top of the one you got a few months earlier, you need to be careful about a potential colour overlap, which might hurt the look of the hair.

With highlights, it’s important to go back to the hair salon and get the roots touched up at least once every few weeks. Some people love how it looks when the roots of their highlights start showing, but most will probably insist on regular maintenance. This is great news, because who doesn’t love spending quality time at your favourite salon? During these follow-up appointments, only the roots need to be lightened again when it’s time for maintenance.


Which look suits your lifestyle?

Which look suits your lifestyle


If you’re ready for a new hairstyle, the technique you choose will depend on the type of look you want to achieve. If you would like to go for a natural look, you should go for balayage. For a more structured appearance, highlights are the way to go. If you do get highlights, you must also consider your commitment to going back to the salon and touch up on your beautiful hair.

Ultimately, both techniques can be used to achieve a gorgeous new look. In fact, some experts are mixing both techniques by freehand painting the hair, and then wrapping it in foil to achieve a more defined lighter shade. No matter what you decide between balayage and highlights, book an appointment with a professional hairstylist for your stunning new hairstyle.