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Balayage vs Highlights: Main Differences

Balayage vs Highlights: Main Differences

Balayage vs highlights may be a question for those who want to change hair color and get a fresh new hairstyle.

Both techniques are one of the most popular for hair coloring and are a common dilemma when deciding on hair lightening. The good news is that you can use balayage and highlights on both natural and colored hair, and also on light and dark hair to get the desired hairstyle.

To get the most out of hair coloring and make an easy decision, you should understand the differences between balayage and highlight techniques.

What is Balayage Hair?

Balayage Hair is a hair coloring technique in which stylists apply color using their hands on random parts of the hair. The name balayage comes from the French word “balayer,” which means “to sweep.” Color or lighter is typically swept on the hair starting from the middle and getting thicker as you move down the section of hair to the top.

Balayage creates a natural, sun-kissed glow by gradually blending the color on the hair surface.

Types of balayage

You can use many balayage techniques to achieve different hairstyles and looks. Some of the most popular balayage highlights techniques are:

Full Balayage

Full balayage techniques include lighting overall hair by applying color throughout all of your hair. To completely change your hair color, this is the perfect coloring technique.

Partial Balayage

Partial balayage is the opposite technique of full balayage, in which the hairstylist apply a small highlight on certain parts of the hair, usually creating a spotlights effect. This technique combines traditional foiling with balayage. The hairstylist part the hair and paint on the highlights, then cover them with foil to intensify the color.


During this technique, the hairstylist uses adhesive strips to create a mix of highlights and lowlights for a multidimensional effect.


Babylights include applying fine, delicate highlights to a small section of the hair to create a subtle, natural-looking effect.

Reverse balayage 

Reverse balayage is the opposite technique of classical balayage in which your hair color goes from lighter to darker tones. Reverse balayage is a great technique to return you to dark or natural hair color from lighter.

How long does balayage take?

The balayage hair process includes several steps that take different amounts of time. The time it takes to do a balayage hair coloring depends on several factors: the desired outcome, the length, thickness, and hair texture, and the stylist’s experience.

If you want an experienced salon in hair coloring with a proven pedigree, check out Yukie Natori Salon and Spa NYC.

After consultation with the hairstylist about the desired look, fallows the freehand painting technique that can last between 30 do 60min depends on the density and length of the hair.

When the hairstylist finishes with hair coloring, you should wait about 1 hour for the application on your hair. After highlighting hair, the next step comes the toner and other haircare products to protect your hair and continue the last effect of balayage.

Generally, balayage takes from 90min to 3 hours.

Regarding how long balayage last, the answer is about four months with adequate care with good-quality hair products for colored hair.

What are Hair Highlights?

Hair highlights represent the hair color technique that involves using bleach or a lightening agent to get lightening hair strands. Highlights can be applied to any hair color to contrast base or natural hair. The result is a brighter look that adds dimension and depth to the hair. Highlights can be subtle or bold, depending on the desired effect.

During the highlights treatment, hairstylists usually use aluminum foil to wrap the hair strand that tries to lighten it.

Types of highlights

There are several types of hair highlights, including:

  • traditional foil highlights

Traditional foil Highlights are a coloring method of applying highlights where hair sections are weaved and painted with a lightning solution before being covered with foil to intensify the color.

  • chunky highlights

For more visible and intense highlights, hairstylists use this technique for those who want a bolder change in hair color through highlights.

  • peekaboo highlights

This kind of highlight means creating hidden lighter strands of color under the top layer of hair.

  • babylights

Babylights involve applying superfine, mini highlights, and delicate highlights throughout the hair to create a subtle and natural-looking effect. Babylights are a great option to transition from natural to color-treated hair.

There are also two types of hair highlighting techniques that differ in the amount of hair that is colored and the resulting look:

Full highlights lightening process

Full highlights involve coloring every hair strand from the roots to the ends, resulting in a bold, dramatic, and all-over-lighter look.

This technique is suitable for those who want a complete hair color change or who have naturally darker hair and want to get a lighter look.

Partial highlights

Opposite to the full highlights, this technique means coloring only certain parts of the hair. The stylist typically lightens the top layer of hair or selected sections, leaving the rest of the hair natural. Partial highlights are ideal for those who want a more understated and low-maintenance look or want to enhance their natural hair color with subtle lightening.

What’s the difference between balayage and highlights?

Balayage and highlights are hair coloring techniques that differ in coloring techniques, the application process, maintenance, personalizations and time for the process, and the final result they achieve.

Traditional foil highlights are a conventional way to lighten hair by strategically applying bleach or hair dye to achieve a more uniform and defined look. On the other hand, in balayage hairstylists use a so-called free-hand way of coloring and have more freedom in the application process.

In traditional foil highlights, hair is colored from the roots to the tip. In balayage stylist will typically start at the mid-length of the hair and work towards the ends, creating soft, subtle highlights with a natural-looking gradient of color.

Balayage techniques offer more degree for personalization based on your physical characteristics than traditional foil highlights.

Regarding maintenance, with the balayage technique, you get a more natural look after your hair grows. On the other hand, traditional highlights bring more visible natural hair with hair growth, especially on the roots. If you want long-lasting hair color results, balayage is the better solution.

The main difference between these coloring techniques is in the final results because the balayage technique offers a more natural look with the effect of the sun on the hair, while in traditional highlights, you get an intense, more visible change in hair color.

balayage vs. highlights

Balayage vs. Highlights: Which One is Right to Choose?

Balayage vs. highlights, which one should you choose? It’s a common question among those who want to update their look with a new hair color.

To make the right decision, consider your hair type, current hair color, hair hue, hair care routine, and personal preferences.

Balayage may be a good choice for those with dark hair to make an easy and more natural transition to lighter hair tones. The experience shows that it is a good choice for brunettes to add dimension and depth to their hair without significant color changes. Traditional highlights are a good choice for those with blonde hair or lighter hair color to add brightness and visual dimension to your hair. Conventional foil highlights can help you embrace your gray hair and boost confidence. If you have colored hair for an extended period you need to be aware of your deeper natural hair colors to avoid blended results.

Balayage on dark hair

Considering hair type, balayage can bring new textures and depth to fine and straight hair, while highlights can help to break up the density and add movement to thick hair.

It is necessary to consider that traditional highlights need more frequent visits to the salon to keep their appearance, and balayage tends to grow out more naturally, resulting in fewer touch-ups.

Both balayage and traditional highlights are popular hair-coloring techniques that can help to refresh your look but to be fully satisfied consider all these factors.

Balayage vs. Highlights: Pros and Cons of Balayage and Highlights

You can easily understand the key differences between Balayage vs. highlights if you know their advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Balayage

  • Natural-looking: Balayage brings more natural-looking hair compared to other hair coloring techniques.
  • Low maintenance: Balayage grows more naturally, requiring less care and fewer visits to the salon. Most balayage techniques are in harmony with natural color, so growing hair is inconspicuous.
  • Versatility: Balayage can be applied to any hair length, color, or texture, making it a versatile technique.
  • Customizable: Balayage can satisfy each individual’s desired look according to hair type, and even can add benefit to your face shape and facial features

Balayage highlights

Disadvantages of balayage:

  • Time-consuming: Balayage treatment takes time in a salon chair compared to traditional highlighting techniques.
  • Limited color options: Balayage may not be suitable for those who want more dramatic or bold color changes.
  • Cost: Balayage is more expensive compared to traditional highlighting techniques.
  • Skill required: Balayage requires skill and experience on the part of the stylist to achieve the desired results.

Advantages of highlights:

  • Versatility: Highlights can be applied to any hair color and type, allowing for a wide range of looks. It is an option for gray hair and can be easily tailored to each individual’s desired look.
  • Quick and easy: Traditional highlighting techniques can be applied quickly and require less time in the salon chair.
  • Affordable: Traditional highlighting techniques can cost less than balayage and other hair color techniques.

Disadvantages of highlights:

  • Harsher contrast: Highlights can create a dramatic difference between the base color and the highlighted areas.
  • Maintenance: Traditional highlighting techniques require more frequent touch-ups and care than balayage.
  • Limited placement options: Traditional highlighting techniques may be limited in placement options.
  • Can cause hair damage: Over-highlighting can cause damage to the hair if not done right.

Balayage and Hightlights: Cost

Balayage and highlights can be pricey, and the cost can vary depending on several factors.

How much do highlights cost?

The cost of highlights ranges from $75 to $200 or more, depending on the salon’s location, the stylist’s experience, and the number of highlights.

Balayage Costs

Balayage can range from $150 to $400 or more, depending on the same factors.

Which option is more cost-effective in the long run?

Balayage vs. highlights While balayage is generally more expensive, it requires less maintenance than highlights, making it a more cost-effective option in the long run. Ultimately, the cost will depend on the desired look and the individual’s budget.

At Yukie Natori Salon and Spa you can find both highlights option at the prices:


The choice between balayage and highlights appears on personal preference and individual hair needs.

Let’s be honest always the perfect time to change your hair color and try something new. Whether you opt for balayage or highlights, ensure that you choose a professional stylist to achieve the best results.

Balayage vs. highlights may be an easy choice if you have a professional hair stylist who can help you choose the perfect hair color technique.

At Yukei Natori Salon and Spa, we have a unique approach to the client. When we work with color, we ensure that we educate all clients in understanding how simple it can be to maintain their salon color effectively with the right products.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your appointment today by calling 212.810.6900 and get ready to rock a fresh new look.


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