Balayage vs Highlights: Which One Suits You

February 7, 2024


Getting your hair coloured can completely transform your look, making your face look fresh. But with so many options like highlights, balayage, ombre and more, choosing the right one for you can get confusing. 

In this blog, let’s discuss the two most popular techniques, balayage vs highlights. By the end, you will know what sets them apart to pick the best hair colour for your style and maintenance routine.

Also Check How to Choose the Best Hair colour for men

What is a Balayage?

Balayage is a freehand highlighting technique where the colour is painted directly on sections of your hair without using foils or caps. This gives a soft, subtle, natural-looking gradient effect. The results look like you spent weeks in the sun lightening your hair.

Balayage is for who?

  • Those wanting a low-maintenance look. The regrowth blends seamlessly so you can go longer between appointments.
  • People wanting to gently lighten their hair and add dimension. The colour looks like it is illuminating your hair from within.
  • Any hair type and texture, from straight to curly. The painted effect works beautifully.
  • Both blondes and brunettes. Goes well with any base shade.
  • Adding a sun-kissed, bronde or sandy blonde color. But you can go brighter, too.

What are Highlights?

Highlights involve sectioning your hair and applying bleach or permanent colour using foils or a cap to achieve precise, defined streaks of lightened hair. This gives an eye-catching contrast between the colour-treated pieces and your base.

Highlights is for who? 

  • Making a dramatic change with brighter, lighter pieces contrasting your base.
  • Adding lots of dimension and texture when fine sections are highlighted.
  • Drawing attention to face-framing pieces around your face.
  • Lowlighting for dark pieces contrasting light hair.
  • Touching up grow out frequently as regrowth is very visible.

What are the differences between Balayage and traditional Highlights?

FeatureBalayageTraditional Highlights
Application TechniqueHand-painted, freehand applicationFoils or caps are used for precision
PlacementGradual and natural, focused on endsUniform placement from roots to ends
BlendSoft and seamlessCan be more noticeable and defined
MaintenanceLow maintenance, grows out gracefullyRequires more frequent touch-ups
Root GrowthBlended and less noticeableVisible contrast as roots grow
ResultsSubtle and sun-kissedDefined and structured
CustomisationHighly customisable, tailored to the clientOffers controlled, consistent results
VersatilitySuited for various hair lengths/stylesWorks well for all hair types
Time RequiredGenerally takes longerCan be quicker depending on the method
Colour IntensityMore natural and dimensionalCan be bold or natural, depending

Balayage Vs Highlights: Which one to choose?

Now that you know the difference between the two techniques, how do you pick the right option for your hair? 

  • Choose balayage if you want natural, subtle dimension and enhancement without a heavily highlighted look.
  • If you want dramatic contrast, body and shine throughout your hair, go for highlights
  • Balayage suits fine hair that highlights could weigh down. Highlights work well for thicker hair.
  • Consider balayage if you want lower maintenance with less obvious regrowth over time.
  • Choose highlights for darker hair that looks to be dramatically lightened boldly.
  • Balayage enhances features subtly, while highlights make more of a statement.

Things to consider

Hair Color and Texture: Is your hair dark brown or light blonde? Coarse or fine? The existing shade and texture help determine the results you can achieve.

Desired Effect: Do you want something eye-catching or a subtle sun-kissed look? This decides if you should get highlights or balayage.

Maintenance Level: Will you return religiously for touch-ups or want longer breaks between appointments? Maintenance needs may make the decision for you.

Lifestyle Needs: Are you looking for something suitable for work, weekends or both? Pick the hair colour that works with your lifestyle.

Face Shape Suitability: Make sure to pick a technique that flatters your facial features rather than fighting against them.

How to maintain Balayage and Highlights?

To help your new hair colour last longer and stay vibrant, be sure to:

  • Use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to retain colour brightness for longer
  • Wash hair with cool-lukewarm water instead of hot to prevent fading
  • Limit washing to 2-3 times a week only to avoid drying out hair
  • Use a weekly hydrating hair mask to combat dryness from colouring services
  • Protect hair from sun exposure with a hat to avoid fading
  • Get a gloss or glaze service done every 6-8 weeks to refresh the colour
  • Use a purple shampoo once a week to cancel out brassiness in blondes
  • Get trims regularly to snip off dry ends and allow for fresh growth
  • Use heat-protecting sprays if using hot styling tools to prevent damage

Properly caring for your new balayage or highlights can make them last longer between salon visits. Avoid over-washing, excessive heat styling, and excessive sun exposure to keep the colour vibrant. Get occasional in-salon gloss or toner services as well.

Why choose Essensuals to colour your hair?

Essensuals is one of the leading hair and beauty salons in Chennai that offers a wide range of services to make you look and feel your best. From haircuts and styling to colouring and treatments, extensions and beauty services, and wedding makeup, Essensuals has something for everyone. 

Our experienced stylists provide a personalised beauty and styling experience tailored to your needs and preferences. We use only the finest products from top brands to make your skin and hair look and feel its best. 

Visit Essensuals to enhance your appearance and boost your self-confidence.


In the battle of Balayage Vs Highlights, the former gives a soft, natural-looking effect with low maintenance, while the latter offers more contrast and drama but needs more frequent touch-ups. Consider your hair type, lifestyle needs and desired result to pick between them.

No matter which method you pick, love your new hair as a fun way to enhance your style and confidence. The right highlights or balayage can take your look up a notch. With some TLC, you can keep that fresh from the salon vibe going strong.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1). Is balayage better than highlights?

Balayage and highlights both add dimension and lightness to hair. Balayage looks more natural since the colour is painted with hand motions rather than foils, but highlights can provide stronger contrast. In general, balayage is a more subtle approach than traditional highlights.

2). What lasts longer, balayage or highlights?

Balayage tends to last longer than highlights. Highlights wash out more quickly as they place colour directly on the hair shaft. Balayage uses painting techniques to blend colour around the hair cuticle, which helps the colour gradually fade for a more natural look that lasts longer between salon visits.

3). Which is high maintenance, balayage or highlights?

Balayage requires less maintenance than highlights. Balayage involves painting hair strands with lighter colours from the roots to the ends, which looks more natural as it grows. Highlights require touch-ups every 6-8 weeks as the roots come in to maintain the contrast between lighter and darker sections of hair. 

4). Can I oil my hair after balayage?

Yes, you can oil your hair after balayage. Oiling your hair helps nourish and condition the strands, which is beneficial after a colouring treatment like balayage. Be gentle when massaging the oil into your hair to avoid disturbing the colour of the balayage.

5). What are the negatives of colouring your hair?

Colouring your hair can damage it if done too often. The chemicals in hair dye can strip hair of its natural oils and make it dry and brittle. It’s also important to note that some people can have allergic reactions to ingredients in hair dye.

Recent Posts

Haircare Tips to Follow When You Go to sleep

Haircare Tips to Follow When You Go to sleep

Introduction We've all had those mornings when we wake up with unruly, tangled hair that seems to have a mind of its own. While the occasional messy hair can be charming, consistent neglect of your hair during sleep can lead to various issues like breakage, frizz, and...

Nutrition Required for a Healthy and Glowing Skin

Nutrition Required for a Healthy and Glowing Skin

Introduction Beautiful, glowing skin is a universal desire, and it's often a reflection of our overall health and well-being. While skincare products play a significant role in our daily routines, we must not underestimate the importance of nutrition required for...

Our Services

You may also like…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *