20+ Differences Between Balayage And Highlights  (Explained)

Whether you are a fashion expert or a newbie, it is possible that you might not know the actual difference between Balayage and Highlights.

But worry not; you have landed at the right place. This article will clear every doubt that you have about either. The main difference between the two is just the technique. To know more, scroll further. 


History of Balayage

  1. It was first introduced in Carita salon in Paris. It dates back to 1970
  2. Dessange Paris was the one who created this trend. 
  3. The word comes from the French word ‘Balayage,’ which literally means to sweep.
  4. It does not refer to color but the method of applying color. 
  5. The reason why it is so popular is the fact that it makes your hair appear thick and gives a multi-tonal finish.

History of Highlights

  1. It was discovered by French chemist- Eugene Schueller. 
  2. It was prepared in 1907 under the name of Aureole, which later turned to L’OREAL.
  3. The reason why highlights are the ‘in-thing’ is because of the fact that it gives a dramatic appeal.
  4. A proper highlight can bring dimensions and softness to your hair
  5. They also make the lines of your haircut visible. 
Parameter Balayage Highlights 
AimHair is painted with hands without the use of foilFoil is used once the desired color is painted
BenefitLow maintenance  Less damaging
Duration 1.5 to 3 hours to finish2 hours
ResultVisible undertones No undertones
Damaging agentStrong bleach or LightnerOverlapping of bleached hair during touch-ups
TypesPartial, subtle, Foilayage Lowlights and baby lights

Major Differences Between Balayage And Highlights 

What Exactly Is Balayage?

Balayage can be defined as a method where hair is “painted” with desired hair dye. It does not include the usage of foil.

This hand-painted hair looks natural yet includes a pop of brightness that requires very low maintenance. It has become a trend since Chrissy Teigen wore it. It is done by getting a color a few shades lighter than your own base color. 

Before booking an appointment for Balayage, you should keep in mind how you like your hair to be done or how you like to wear it. You should also have an into ready to show the hairdresser. 

For getting a good balayage, select two different color shades. One should be lighter than the second tone. You can opt for mini or partial balayage if you do not want the whole hair covered with the dye. 

What Exactly Are the Highlights?

Highlighting basically means uplifting your hair by changing some strands’ brightness. They are the section or some strands that are dyed three shades lighter than your natural hair color.

It can be regarded as makeup for your hair as they enhance the overall appearance of your natural hair. 

The traditional hair highlighting method includes wrapping the foil on selected hair strands and then dying it with the desired color. Highlight can be proven a hectic task as it would need touch-ups often. 


Types of Balayage vs. Highlights

Types of Balayage 

  1. Partial balayage- This method uses getting colored only in specific hair areas. You can dye the top layer or around the face area. It saves you from applying color all over your head. 
  1. Subtle balayage- Done only at selected areas where the light will naturally fall or fade away. 
  1. Foilayage- Includes foil wrapping your hair. It is done by coloring your hair first. Then it is followed by wrapping foil pieces on the balayage hair. 

Types of Highlights 

  1. Baby lights- They are used to give you a bright hue of blonde. It gives a delicate look to your hair. 
  2. Lowlights- It is used to apply more dimensions to your hair. It is done by coloring some of your strands with darker shades. 

The Contrast Between Balayage And Highlights


  • Balayage – It gives you a sun-kissed tint and provides a less-stripy appearance to your hair. 
  • Highlights – If a structural and tonal look is your desire, then you should opt for highlights. It does not mess up your base hair color too much. 


  • Balayage – It does not include foils. The top of your hair is dyed with the densest color, and then it fades away while coming to the tip of your hair. 
  • Highlights – It is done by wrapping aluminum foil once the desired hair section is dyed. It is evenly colored throughout, so it has the same color density from top to bottom. 


  • Balayage – 1.5 to 3 hours as it is hand-done. 
  • Highlights – It can take approximately two hours to finish.


Advantage of Balayage- 

  1. It is very low maintenance
  2. This method is safe for women with allergies 
  3. It can be customized according to your needs
  4. It creates lesser in-growths of hair

                        Advantage of Highlights-

  1. It is less damaging than any other hair color technique
  2. It is very versatile
  3. It can easily hide your gray hair strands
  4. It gives you a bolder look and enhances your appearance.


  • Balayage – It gives you a blended result with red undertones when you are under the sun.
  • Highlights – With highlights, you don’t have to worry about any undertones. It will simply give you structural hair color. 


  • Balayage – It simply does not need touch-ups for more than three months. You can extend the time period as long as your hair color doesn’t fade.
  • Highlights – They can be quite a lot to deal with. You have to go to the salon for regular touch-ups a few months after getting your hair dyed. 


Maintenance for Balayage:

  1. Do not spoil your shiny hair color through frequent hair wash. 
  2. Avoid sulfate-free products at any cost.
  3. Try shampoo, which includes Agran oil and many other oils for the growth of your hair. 
  4. A hair mask with vitamins and natural hair will moisturize your dried-up hair. It is possible that your hair can get dry easily after getting balayage. 
  5. Do not go under the sun without protecting your hair. 

Maintenance for highlights:

  1. Do not use shampoo for at least 72 hours since your cuticle layer gets opened during hair coloring. 
  2. If you have dyed your hair with a brighter look, you can try mixing your dye with a conditioner. You can apply it to your highlighted strands to keep the hair color fresh and vibrant. 
  3. Use a little warm water to wash your hair. After conditioning, you must use cold water to rinse. It helps in sealing the moisture. 
  4. You can use color-safe dry shampoo. 
  5. You are advised to use only heat protectant spray before you use any tool on your dyed hair. 

Areas Where You Can Dye Your Hair

  • Balayage – You can opt for dying your hair just near the root and then work all the way down 
  • Highlights – If you want to play it safe, then you can start by highlighting only your parting area or the hairline

Damaging Agent

  • Balayage – Balayage method consists of a stronger bleach or lightener to highlight the hair. 
  • Highlights – It is possible that your colored strands overlap each other, which is bleached hair over bleached hair. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Can I get Balayage at home?

It’s safer to NOT do your balayage yourself as it involves hand painting your hair which will be better if you take a professional’s help.

Q2. Is Balayage better than Highlights?

For highlights, the color is generally applied closer to the root of the hair. But Balayage consists of dying a random section of hair. So, it totally depends on you which way you want your hair color done. 

Q3. Does highlighting your hair gives you a younger appeal?

If you opt for lighter tones for highlighting, which suits the frame of your face, then highlighting makes you appear younger. 

Q5. Is it necessary to highlight hair?

Highlighting your hair is completely an individual’s choice. If you want to dye your hair but do not want to take a risk, highlighting can be your option as it includes dying only some part of your hair. 

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