Balayage vs Highlights
March 28, 2024

Balayage vs Highlights

What's The Difference between balayage and highlights?

Welcome to the vibrant world of hair colouring, where creativity meets personal style. Amidst the ever-evolving trends in hair aesthetics, two techniques stand out for their unique allure: Balayage and Highlights.

Balayage and highlights are both hair colouring techniques that create a lightened effect on your hair, but they differ in the application process, the final look, and maintenance requirements.

Let's embark on a journey to demystify these popular hair colouring methods, helping you make an informed decision for your next salon visit.

What is Balayage?

Balayage is a French word meaning "to sweep" or "to paint," it's a hair colouring technique that offers a natural-looking, sun-kissed finish. This method involves the hair colourist hand-painting the dye onto the hair, creating a gradual, soft, and blended effect with no harsh or obvious regrowth lines.

Here's a deeper look into Balayage:

Technique: Unlike traditional highlighting methods that use foil or a cap, balayage is applied freehand. The colourist selectively paints the dye onto individual hair strands first, focusing on where the sun would naturally lighten the hair. This approach allows for a more customised, natural-looking result, as the colourist can adjust the placement and intensity of the colour based on the haircut, hair texture, and desired effect. Sometimes foils are used to help with the development time and to help create a pop of colour.

Results: Balayage creates depth and dimension while maintaining a seamless transition between the coloured and uncoloured hair. The highlights are typically placed around the face and on the ends, with a less saturated application at the roots, which contributes to the natural-looking outcome and easier maintenance.

Maintenance: One of the significant advantages of balayage is its low maintenance nature. As the hair grows, the root regrowth is less noticeable compared to traditional highlights, allowing for longer intervals between salon visits. The technique is versatile, suiting a wide range of hair lengths, textures, and colours.

Customisation: Balayage isn't limited to blondes; it can be adapted for brunettes, redheads, and those with darker hair, using a spectrum of colours from soft pastels to vibrant hues. The technique can be tailored to enhance the individual's hairstyle, cut, and natural colour, making it a highly personalised method of hair colouring.

In summary, balayage is a sought-after hair colouring technique for its natural-looking results, versatility, and ease of maintenance, making it a popular choice for those looking to refresh their look without the commitment required by more traditional colouring methods.

The process of getting a Balayage

The journey to achieving Balayage begins with a consultation, followed by the strategic application of lightener or colour using a brush and sometimes a backing board. This meticulous process, offers a unique, customised result.

The average time for a balayage hair colouring session can vary widely depending on several factors, including the hair's length, thickness, the desired effect, and the specific technique used by the stylist. Generally, a balayage appointment can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

Why choose Balayage? Pros and cons

Balayage is synonymous with versatility and low maintenance. However, the initial cost and time investment might be cons for some. It's a technique that offers depth and dimension, yet requires a skilled stylist for optimal results.

Ideal hair types and lengths for Balayage

While Balayage is universally flattering, it shines on layered, medium to long hair, offering a canvas that beautifully showcases the technique's gradient effect.

Maintenance and care for Balayage hair

Preserving the luminosity of Balayage involves specific care routines, including sulfate-free shampoos and regular touch-ups, ensuring the vibrancy endures.

Between balayage sessions, it's beneficial to refresh your toner. At Bond Shoreditch, we provide a special package known as TTB, which encompasses a Toner, Treatment, and Blowdry, ideal for individuals with balayage or highlights to maintain their hair's vibrancy and health. Treatments help with condition of the hair, especially since balayage involves using hair lighteners (such as bleach)

What are Highlights?

Highlights are a hair colouring technique that involves lightening sections of hair to create contrast and add dimension to your overall hair colour. This method selectively lightens strands of hair, usually offering a brighter, more vibrant appearance compared to the rest of the hair. Highlights can vary in width, intensity, and placement, allowing for a range of looks from subtle to dramatic.

Here's a closer look at highlights:

Technique: Highlights are typically applied using foils, where sections of hair are coated with a lightening agent and then wrapped in foil to process. The foil helps the lightening agent lift the colour more effectively and prevents the colour from getting on surrounding hair, creating precise, clean sections of lighter colour. There are also other methods like cap highlighting, where a cap is placed on the head and strands are pulled through with a hook before being coloured.

Variety and Versatility: The size, placement, and tone of highlights can be customised to suit individual preferences and styles. From fine, natural-looking streaks called 'babylights' to chunkier pieces, highlights can be tailored to achieve a variety of looks. They can be placed around the face to frame it, added in layers to create depth, or evenly distributed for an overall lighter appearance.

Maintenance: Highlights typically require more maintenance than single-process colour because the contrast between the lightened strands and the natural or base hair colour can create a more noticeable regrowth line. Regular touch-ups are usually needed every 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the growth rate of your hair and the desired look.

Impact on Hair: While highlights can create a beautiful, multi-dimensional look for blonde hair, the lightening process can be damaging, particularly for darker hair that requires more intensive bleaching. Proper post-colouring care, including deep conditioning treatments and the use of colour-protective products, is crucial to maintain hair health and colour vibrancy.

In essence, highlights are a popular and versatile hair colouring option that can enhance your hair's dimension, texture, and overall appearance, offering a customised approach to achieving your desired aesthetic. Whether you're looking for a subtle enhancement or a bold transformation, highlights and hair colour techniques can provide that added depth and vibrancy to your hair.

Benefits and drawbacks of choosing Highlights

Highlights can accentuate your hair's texture and volume but may require more frequent maintenance compared to Balayage. They offer a structured, uniform look, yet the regrowth lines can be more noticeable.

Best hair textures and lengths for Highlights

Highlights are versatile, suiting various hair types and lengths. They add depth to fine hair and vivify long locks, showcasing their adaptability.

Caring for highlighted hair

Post-highlighting care is crucial. Investing in colour-protective products and regular salon visits can maintain the highlights' tone.

Comparing Balayage and Highlights

The main differences between Balayage and Highlights

Balayage is a freehand hair colouring technique where dye is hand-painted onto the hair, creating a natural, sun-kissed effect. This method allows for a more subtle gradation of colour, with lighter ends and darker roots that blend seamlessly, offering a look that mimics natural hair lightening from the sun. Balayage is low-maintenance, with less noticeable regrowth lines, making it ideal for those seeking a subtle, long-lasting transformation.

In contrast, highlights involve applying colour to selected strands of hair using foils, creating a more pronounced and uniform lightening effect. This technique offers a more defined and brighter contrast against the natural hair colour, requiring more frequent touch-ups to maintain the look due to more noticeable regrowth. Highlights are versatile and can be customised in terms of placement and width, making them suitable for those desiring a more conspicuous and structured colour enhancement.

Visual impact: How each technique transforms your hair

Balayage gives a soft, natural gradation, while highlights create contrast and lift, showcasing two distinct paths to hair transformation.

Cost Comparison: Investing in Balayage vs Highlights

Balayage might be pricier upfront due to the skill and time required, but it generally demands less frequent touch-ups than highlights, which might balance the overall cost over time.

Longevity and maintenance: What to expect

Balayage grows out gracefully, offering a longer-lived allure, whereas highlights may require regular salon visits to maintain their crispness.

Factors to consider before deciding

Reflect on your lifestyle, budget, and the amount of time you're willing to dedicate to maintenance when choosing between Balayage and Highlights.

Consulting with a professional stylist

Consulting with a professional stylist is a critical step in determining whether balayage or highlights are the best fit for your own hair type, lifestyle, and aesthetic goals. A skilled stylist will assess various factors such as your hair's condition, natural colour, texture, and your personal maintenance commitment to recommend the most suitable technique.

During the consultation, the stylist will listen to your desired outcome and examine your hair's health. They can suggest which method—balayage or highlights—will achieve your vision while maintaining the integrity of your hair. For instance, if you have virgin hair and desire a subtle, natural enhancement, a stylist might recommend balayage. Conversely, if you're aiming for a more dramatic transformation or have specific colour goals in mind, highlights could be the suggested route.

Moreover, the stylist can advise on how each colour technique used will blend with your natural hair as it grows out, the frequency of touch-up appointments required, and how to care for your coloured hair at home to maintain its vibrancy and health. This tailored advice ensures that your choice aligns with your daily routine and styling preferences, ensuring you're delighted with your hair over the long term.

If you're considering updating your look with either of these techniques, why not consult with the experts at Bond Shoreditch Salon? Our team of professional stylists can provide you with personalised advice, ensuring you choose the right option that complements your lifestyle and meets your hair goals. Book an appointment at Bond Shoreditch Salon today and take the first step toward your dream hair!

Balayage or Highlights based on your lifestyle

When deciding between balayage and highlights, it's essential to consider how your lifestyle, styling habits, and personal image aspirations align with the maintenance and aesthetic offered by each technique. Balayage, known for its natural, flowing appearance, is ideal if you prefer a low-maintenance hair routine or have a busy lifestyle that doesn't allow for frequent salon visits. Its subtle grow-out phase means you won't need to worry about regular touch-ups, making it perfect for those who favour a more effortless, understated elegance in their appearance.

On the other hand, highlights might be the better option if you're seeking a more defined, vibrant look that stands out. If you're someone who enjoys updating their style regularly and doesn't mind the commitment of more frequent salon visits to maintain your hair colour, highlights can offer you that level of dynamism and precision. They're also suitable if your professional or personal image benefits from a sharper, more meticulously curated appearance, as the striking contrast provided by highlights can be a significant style statement.

Moreover, your styling preferences should play a crucial role in your decision. If you often wear your hair in styles that showcase texture and dimension, balayage can enhance your look with its natural, depth-creating effect. Conversely, if you prefer styles that are sleek and polished, the crisp lines and uniform colouring of highlights might complement your look better.

Ultimately, whether you choose balayage or highlights, the goal is to select a technique that not only aligns with your aesthetic preferences but also fits seamlessly into your lifestyle, ensuring that your hair colour is something that enhances your overall style and confidence, not a point of stress or inconvenience.


In conclusion, the choice between balayage and highlights is more than just a decision about a hair colouring technique—it's about choosing a style that aligns with your personality, lifestyle, and maintenance preferences.

Balayage offers a more natural, low-maintenance option with its freehand application resulting in a subtle, sun-kissed effect, making it ideal for those who prefer a less structured look with easier upkeep. Highlights, however, provide a more pronounced change with their precise foil application, catering to those who seek a more dramatic transformation and don't mind the commitment to regular maintenance. Both methods have their unique appeal and can significantly enhance your look, but the best choice depends on your individual needs and desired outcome.

Consulting with a professional stylist, like those at Bond Shoreditch Salon, can provide invaluable guidance, helping you make an informed decision that ensures you walk out of the salon feeling confident and satisfied with your new look.

Frequently asked questions

Is highlights better than balayage?

Whether highlights or balayage is better depends on your personal preferences and hair goals. Highlights offer a more defined, uniform look and are ideal for those seeking noticeable contrast and dimension. Balayage provides a more natural, sun-kissed effect with a softer grow-out phase, suited for those looking for a low-maintenance option. Your choice should align with your desired aesthetic, lifestyle, and how often you're willing to visit the salon for upkeep.

What is the downside of balayage?

The downside of balayage can include its higher initial cost compared to traditional highlights, especially if you're going to a highly skilled colourist. While it offers a more natural grow-out process, the initial application can be time-consuming. Also, achieving the desired effect might require multiple sessions, particularly if you're starting with a dark base or seeking a significant colour change.

Why is balayage more expensive than highlights?

Balayage is often more expensive than highlights due to the technique's intricate and labour-intensive nature. It requires a high level of skill and artistry from the colourist, as the dye is hand-painted onto the hair, often without the use of foils. This method demands a thorough understanding of colour theory and hair types to achieve a seamless, natural-looking gradient, justifying the higher price point.

Is balayage good for grey hair?

Yes, balayage can be an excellent option for blending and camouflaging grey hair, offering a more natural and less high-maintenance solution than all-over colour. It allows for strategic placement of lighter pieces that can mimic the way hair naturally lightens with age, providing a graceful way to embrace grey hair or integrate it with your natural colour.

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