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Highlights vs Balayage: We Break Down The Difference Between These Two Hair Colour Trends

Highlights vs Balayage: We Break Down The Difference Between These Two Hair Colour Trends

If you’re thinking about giving yourself a little makeover, a haircut or a new hair colour is the perfect way to go. But if a bold new haircut seems intimidating, getting your hair coloured would be easier. Your hair frames your face so even the slightest change to the way it looks is automatically going to make you look different. Thanks to social media there are always new trends that keep cropping up. But keeping up with these hair colour trends is hard. Highlights, balayage, ombre, sombre, hair painting there are so many techniques that you can pick and choose from! I’m sure you have heard words like ombre and balayage being tossed around in the salon. But do you really know what these terms and trends refer to? Most people don’t. If you have been curious about the difference between balayage and conventional highlights, we break down the difference between these two hair colour techniques.

What Are Highlights?

Did you think that highlights are those blonde streaks in your hair? Me too! Highlights actually refer to a colour that is a few shades lighter than your natural hair colour. While highlights could be in any colour, picking a shade closer to your natural hair colour looks the best. So, if you have dark brown hair, highlights should ideally be a shade or two lighter. 

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A post shared by Natan Nati Nodel-hair Boutique (@natan_nudel) on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:46am PDT

Technique wise, highlights typically cover the entire length of your hair. The hairstylist divides your hair in sections and then applies colour. Once the hair colour is applied, the hair is wrapped up in strips of aluminium foil. The aluminium foil each helps to trap heat and provide an intense colour. 

Things You Need To Know Before Getting Highlights:


– Highlights are done on small sections of your hair from your root to your tips.

– The hair is picked out in a structured way to define your face.


– Highlights help accentuate the base colour of your hair. 

– Depending on the shade you choose, they can stand out or blend in with the rest of your hair.


– If your hair grows quickly you may need frequent touch-ups. 

What Is Balayage?

Balayage is a freehand technique in which hair colour is applied using a free hand, much like art. Balayage comes from the French and it means to ‘sweep’. That’s exactly what is done in this technique. The hair colour is swept through your hair to look like your hair naturally fades into multiple shades. Balayage is done from the bottom to the top. The hairstylist would start at the tips of your hair and move their way up to the mid-length. This is what makes it look so natural.

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A post shared by Suzan Al Hirsh – Professional (@house_of_balayage) on Sep 12, 2018 at 9:02am PDT

Technique wise, balayage is achieved in revolutions using a cellophane sheet. First, the bottom part of your hair is coloured, followed by the midsection and then the top section. The cellophane does not really saturate the colour and this helps to achieve a more natural look. Balayage looks like thick highlights and blend in with your base colour quite well as it is only a few shades lighter than your base hair colour.

Things You Need To Know Before Getting Balayage:


– Balayage is done with a freehand technique from mid-shaft to the tips.

– It is a subtle hair colour change as compared to highlights.  


– The colours blend in with your natural hair to give a gradient effect.

– Balayage adds depth and dimension to your hair and gives you a more voluminous look.


– With this type of hair colour, you do not need to get frequent touch-ups.

We hope that set your basics right! Let us know if you would like us to do more of such stories.


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27 Sep 2018
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