The Difference Between Balayage And Highlights

In the vast and vibrant world of hair colouring, two techniques often stand out for those seeking to refresh their look with some added depth and dimension: balayage and highlights. While both methods aim to lighten and brighten your hair, creating beautiful, multi-tonal finishes, they differ significantly in technique, maintenance, and overall effect. Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone looking to make an informed decision about their next hair transformation. Let’s explore the distinctive qualities of balayage and highlights to help you choose the perfect option for your hair dreams.

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The Technique Behind the Beauty

Balayage: Originating from the French word meaning “to sweep” or “to paint,” balayage is a freehand colouring technique. Stylists apply colour directly onto the hair without using foil or a cap, allowing for a more natural, sun-kissed effect. The colour is painted on the surface of the hair and not saturated through the section until the very tips, resulting in a soft, graduated look with darker roots and lighter ends.

Highlights: In contrast, highlights involve sectioning the hair and using foils to isolate small or thick strands, which are then lightened with bleach or hair dye. This traditional technique allows the colour to saturate each strand from root to tip, creating a uniform lightness and a more pronounced contrast against the base colour of the hair.

The Visual Impact

Balayage: Balayage offers a subtle, lived-in look with less noticeable regrowth lines, making it ideal for those seeking a low-maintenance style. The technique enhances the hair’s natural dimensions, adding movement and depth in a way that mimics the natural lightening effects of the sun.

Highlights: Highlights provide a more noticeable and consistent lightening effect throughout the hair. They can add volume and texture by creating a contrast between the lighter strands and the darker base colour. Highlights can be tailored to be as subtle or as bold as desired, offering versatility in the final look.

Maintenance and Commitment

Balayage: One of the most appealing aspects of balayage is its low maintenance. The natural gradient effect means that as the hair grows out, the roots remain blended, and the need for frequent touch-ups is reduced. This makes balayage an excellent option for those with busy lifestyles or for anyone looking for a more effortless approach to hair colouring. Furthermore, to help maintain your balayage for longer, look for a shampoo and conditioner that are specifically designed for coloured hair, like the FUL Colour Care Shampoo & Conditioner Set.

Highlights: Highlights typically require more frequent salon visits to maintain the precise colour and prevent noticeable regrowth. The demarcation lines between the natural hair colour and the highlights become more apparent as the hair grows, necessitating touch-ups every six to eight weeks to keep the look fresh and vibrant. The FUL Colour Care Shampoo & Conditioner Set are the perfect hair care products for those with highlights to help maintain the hair colour for longer.


Balayage: This technique is versatile and suits a wide range of hair types, lengths, and colours. It is particularly effective for creating a natural, radiant effect on hair that captures the light beautifully.

Highlights: Highlights are equally versatile and can be adapted to suit various hair types and styles. They are especially effective for those looking to add texture, volume, or a dramatic change in colour contrast to their hair.


Choosing between balayage and highlights depends on your personal style, hair type, and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in maintenance. Balayage is perfect for those seeking a natural, low-maintenance look with subtle sophistication. In contrast, highlights are ideal for creating a more defined, vibrant look with clearer colour differentiation and texture. Discuss your preferences and lifestyle with your stylist to determine which technique will best achieve your desired outcome. Whichever you choose, both balayage and highlights are fantastic ways to add depth, dimension, and interest to your hair, showcasing your individuality and enhancing your natural beauty.

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