top of page

Top 10 Major Differences between Balayage and Highlights

Are you trying to decide between balayage and highlights for your next hair appointment? Both hair coloring techniques can add depth and dimension to your hair, but they are two different processes. Understanding the differences can help you decide on your hair and desired look.

Let’s dive into the top ten significant differences between balayage and highlights:

1. Color Placement

Balayage is a freehand painting technique for more natural-looking, sun-kissed results. Highlights are typically placed in a more consistent pattern, which can create a “striped” look.

2. Maintenance

Balayage is excellent for those who don’t want to be in the salon every 4-6 weeks for a touch-up. With balayage, the regrowth is less noticeable, and the color can last up to 4 months. On the other hand, highlights need more frequent maintenance (every 4-6 weeks) to keep the color looking fresh.

3. Application

The application process is the most significant difference between balayage and highlights. Balayage is applied by freehand painting the hair with a brush. This allows the color to be placed more naturally and in the areas that best flatter the individual's face. Highlights, on the other hand, are applied by using foils to separate the sections of the hair that are being colored.

4. Price

Price is another factor that varies between balayage and highlights. Balayage typically costs more because it requires more skill and time to apply. On the other hand, highlights are usually less expensive because they don't need as much effort or skill.

5. Time

Highlights tend to take longer because of the need to apply the color with foils and the need for more frequent touch-ups. Balayage is a quicker process because it does not require foils and does not need to be touched up as often. Balayage can take up to two hours, while highlights can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

6. Color

Regarding color, balayage is typically used to create a sun-kissed, natural look. The colors are usually more subtle and blend with the natural hair color. Highlights, on the other hand, are generally brighter and more dramatic. It's an excellent means to add color to the hair.

7. Hair Type

Balayage works best on medium to thick hair with some natural wave or curl. Highlights work better on thinner hair since the color is applied in smaller sections.

8. Longevity

The longevity of balayage and highlights also differs. Balayage usually lasts about three to four months, while highlights can last up to six months.

9. Damage

Highlights can be more damaging to the hair because they use a higher concentration of bleach, and the hair is processed for longer. Conversely, the best in balayage is it uses a more gentle technique and is less likely to damage the hair.

10. Results

Highlights create a more structured, uniform look with visible lines between the light and dark sections of hair. Conversely, Balayage creates a more natural look with softer transitions between the light and dark areas.


Now that you know the significant differences between balayage and highlights, you can decide which technique is best for you. Both methods can create beautiful, eye-catching results, so it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Salon Dior is an organic hair salon that provides industry-leading expertise and organic products of the highest quality in Whitinsville, MA. Our experienced hairstylists combine their knowledge with the finest organic hair care products to give you the exceptional experience possible. Book a hair color appointment with us today and experience the difference!


bottom of page