Balayage vs. Highlights - The Great Debate - Current Salon & Color Bar

Balayage vs. Highlights – The Great Debate

You’ve probably heard or seen the term “balayage” in salons, magazines, “top trending” articles, and from friends who just visited a salon. This sometimes hard-to-pronounce term has left many wondering, “Is this just a new way of saying ‘highlights’”?

Well, not really. 

Even more difficult than understanding the linguistics behind this term is knowing the differences between this popular hair technique and your more traditional foil highlights. If you’re a ride-or-die highlight devotee, it may be hard to wrap your head around switching things up. Whether or not you will take the plunge and consider a balayage during your next visit, we’ve got the 411 on some of the biggest questions surrounding this technique. 

What are Highlights?

A more traditional way of lightening and adding depth to your hair, highlights are created using foils to help saturate specific pieces of hair from the root to the tip. Less the stereotype of brash streaks of blonde hair running through a brown base color (think the Spice Girls circa 1999), highlighting is actually a more subdued coloring method that can offer very natural results. 

Your stylist will take strands of your hair and precisely section them out using a ‘weaving’ technique and choose small subsections to saturate the hair and wrap it in foil strips. This technique creates a more pronounced contrast between the highlighted hairpieces and your base color. Highlighting follows a more structured pattern and also requires more frequent touch-ups to combat root grow-out.  

Where Highlights Win: 

  • Creates a more pronounced contrast between the highlighted hairpieces and your base color 
  • Gives your hair gorgeous dimension
  • Works for any hair type 
  • Is a more traditional technique that most any stylist, new or seasoned, will have had ample training on

What is Balayage?

Balayage is a French term that refers to a technique used for lightening hair using a freehand method. Unfortunately, no baguettes come with this coloring technique, but it does offer some unique benefits that foil highlights do not. 

Unlike the structure of foil highlighting, with this technique, color is hand-painted onto sections of the hair. This application generally is applied from the mid shaft – rather than the root – giving it a more sweeping look. Cellophane or foil can be used in between each layer of hair so as not to bleed into other sections of the hair. This technique is a newer one, so you definitely should do your research to find a stylist who has mastered the technique to ensure you achieve the desired results. Of course, all of our stylists at Current Salon have had ample training in balayage.

Where Balayage Wins: 

  • Often requires less maintenance due to its’ less structured method of application- meaning you may be able to go longer between salon touch-ups
  • Root grow-out is less noticeable, with no harsh lines of color changes
  • It often results in a softer, natural-looking effect that still boasts a ton of depth and dimension 

So… which one should you choose? 

When it comes to balayage vs. highlights, it really comes down to personal preference and hair type. If you want natural, sunlit dimension that gives your locks that “beachy” vibe, balayage may be the way to go. Traditional foil highlights are going to be your bread and butter if you want a more structured, tonal effect. 

Still unsure which method is best for your hair? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our Current Salon Stylists and they can help guide you in choosing the perfect method that will give you the gorgeous hair vibes you desire!