Balayage vs Highlights

The modern beauty world offers plenty of experiments with hairstyles and hair colors. Many of the applied coloring techniques are considered not only complex but also incredibly spectacular. Highlighting techniques are great for refreshing hairstyles and creating luxurious effects. To achieve beautiful and naturally healthy looks, A-list celebrities and fashionistas opt for ombré, balayage, and highlights. 

Thus, what is the difference between them, and what are the pros and cons of each of these techniques? Unless you are a professional stylist, it is not easy to tell which method is better and safer for the hair. But don’t worry we have got you covered. 

If you want to add some volume, enhance your look, and try the hottest hair trends in 2022, in our salon there is a full range of hairdressing services and the latest techniques available. Masters advise the best options depending on hair type and condition. For those who want to know in-depth about each method, we will explain how highlighting styles differ from one another and how they are performed by professional stylists. 

What is Balayage?

Balayage is a hair coloring trend allowing to create light highlights, the effect of burnt hair. Such coloring is used in an open technique, that is when strands with dye are not wrapped in foil, but left open.


A dye is applied on the upper and lower surface of the strand, and inside the curl, the hair remains unpainted, while the tips are completely dyed. Due to this technique, the look becomes more prominent.

Balayage works drear on dark and light brown hair. This coloring looks best when the difference between the strands is 1-2 tones.

What are the Highlights?

Highlighting is a popular method of coloring individual strands. In the traditional version, mainly light shades are used, but dark, bright colors are also relevant. Highlights accentuate the shape of the haircut and add volume. All techniques differ by the number of strands involved, color, and application method. A well-chosen technique allows for achieving the effect of healthy, shiny hair.

What Is Ombre?

Ombre is a coloring technique that was originally used to create a sun-kissed look on the hair. 

The hair is lightened from about the middle of the length to the tips, and the border between the shades is blurred and smoothed out. Pretty dark shades can be blended with blondes so that they don’t contrast, but harmonize. 

The Ombré technique involves paint applied to about half of the length of the hair. The roots remain untouched or additionally darkened. The transition is relatively smooth, yet quite clearly visible.

What's the difference between balayage and highlights? Key differences

Balayage differs from traditional foil highlights by a smooth changeover of color from the tips to the roots, so that the border of the main and additional tones is erased. Traditional highlights involve individual strands colored in the same color from the roots to the tips, with different frequencies. These are the key differences between the balayage and highlighting techniques. 

Balayage versus highlights 






Balayage. Lightening of hair parts with a smooth  transition(horizontal border between shades)

Highlights. Highlighting individual strands(vertically) 


Close to roots:

Balayage. No

Highlights. Yes


 Hair damage :

Balayage. Nearly harmless

Highlights. Moderate


Colors and tones:

Balayage. Usually natural caramel,      amber, gold, bronze, copper

Highlights.Usually not very natural colors of  light, bleached and platinum blond.




Balayage. Smooth transition from dark to slightly lighter.  

Highlights. The same tone throughout no color transition. 



Balayage. Enhances the depth of natural color. Making ends lighter starting from around the middle.

Highlights.Change of image, for  highlighting individual strands.



Balayage. Doesn’t need touch-ups.

Highlights. Touch-ups needed regularly.




Balayage. Painted on, often chaotically, combination of similar tones is  used to achieve a natural, sun-kissed effect and smooth transition

Highlights. Wrapped in foils, one color is evenly distributed throughout the length



Hair type:

Balayage. Dark and  brunette natural hair  


Highlights. Blondes and lighter shades  

Should I Get Highlights or Balayage or Ombre?


The choice is always yours, yet depending on hair type and the effect desired, there are some general recommendations. 

Highlights give the hair a visual density and are ideal for those who want to gradually become blonde without harming the hair.

Balayage is used when there is no desire to change the main hair color, but there is a need to highlight the texture. For brunettes and brown-haired ladies, warm shades of coffee and chocolate are suitable. Copper, bronze, and caramel shades are gaining popularity. For blonds using natural light brown ensures the essential transition of tones. Shades of wheat, golden, honey and sand colors will look spectacular.

Ombre is used for creating the maximum contrast - the dark hair at the roots smoothly transitions to a light shade on the ends. On long hair and curly hairstyles, the ombre looks the most effective. 

Is balayage healthier than highlights?

Balayage is considered to be a more natural technique since it is applied on the ends and can be retouched once in half a year or cut off. Highlights are applied throughout the hair lengths and require regular touch-ups when roots are grown.  Subsequently highlights result in more hair damage than balayage techniques. 

Is balayage more expensive than highlights?

The final price depends on the skill of the hairdresser and the quality of the service. The price of balayage builds upon the material used, the pricing policy of the salon, as well as on the length and quality of the hair. Balayage is a complex technique requiring more skills and hence more expensive than highlighting. 

Which lasts longer balayage or highlights?

Highlighting should be carried out once in 2-3 months, but balayage lasts for up to six months. If you are bored with the look of highlights you can completely repaint the strands, while with balayage it is possible to cut off the light tips.

All of the above types of coloring are a great alternative to traditional hair coloring and have an increased level of complexity. Therefore, it is not worth conducting experiments on your style at home, it is better to seek the advice of specialists and visit a salon.