Wisteria Avenue

Are Balayage and Highlights the same?

When it comes to hair colouring techniques, two popular options often come to mind: balayage and highlights. While both methods aim to add dimension and depth to the hair, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s delve into the intricacies of balayage and highlights, unraveling the similarities and disparities to help you make an informed choice for your next hair transformation.

For more information on the more specific differences between balayage and highlights, visit each service page for more.

What is balayage?

Originating from the French word meaning “to sweep” or “to paint,” balayage is a freehand hair colouring technique that creates a natural, sun-kissed effect. Unlike traditional foil highlights, balayage involves hand-painting individual sections of hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends to achieve a soft, blended look. The result is subtle, seamless transitions between shades, with lighter pieces strategically placed to mimic the light-catching effect of natural sunlight.

What are Highlights?

Highlights, on the other hand, involve lightening specific sections of hair to create contrast and dimension. This technique typically utilises foils or caps to isolate strands, allowing the colourist to apply lightener or bleach precisely. Highlights can vary in thickness, placement, and intensity, ranging from fine, delicate strands to bold, chunky sections. The goal is to add brightness and dimension to the hair, enhancing its natural beauty and texture.

Application Technique

The primary distinction between balayage and highlights lies in the application technique. Balayage is hand-painted onto the hair in sweeping motions, resulting in a softer, more diffused effect. In contrast, highlights are applied using foils or caps, allowing for more precise placement and control over the lightening process.

Overall Look

While both techniques aim to add dimension and depth to the hair, the overall look achieved with balayage versus highlights differs significantly. Balayage creates a more natural, lived-in effect, with subtle variations in colour seamlessly blending with the base shade. Highlights, on the other hand, tend to be more defined and contrasting, with lighter strands standing out against the darker base colour.

Maintenance Look

Maintenance requirements also vary between balayage and highlights. Balayage typically offers a more low-maintenance option, as the gradual transition between shades means regrowth is less noticeable. Highlights may require more frequent touch-ups to maintain the desired level of brightness and contrast, especially if the contrast between the base colour and highlights is significant.


Both balayage and highlights offer versatility in terms of customisation and adaptability to different hair types and styles. However, balayage tends to be more forgiving and adaptable to various lengths and textures, making it suitable for a wide range of hair types. Highlights can be tailored to achieve specific effects, such as adding brightness around the face or creating depth and dimension throughout the hair.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Technique for You

In conclusion, while balayage and highlights share the common goal of enhancing the hair’s natural beauty, they each offer unique benefits and characteristics. Whether you prefer the soft, sun-kissed look of balayage or the bold contrast of highlights, our experienced colourists at Wisteria Avenue are here to help you achieve your desired look. Book a consultation with us today, and let us tailor a hair colouring technique that perfectly complements your style and personality.

Opening Hours

Tuesday : 10 am – 4 pm
Wednesday : 11:30 am – 8 pm 
Thursday : 11:30 am – 8 pm
Friday : 10 am – 6:30 pm
Saturday : 9 am – 5 pm


Wisteria Avenue Hair Salon
4 East St. Helen Street,
OX14 5EA


T: 01235 534705
WhatsApp: 01235 534705
Email: [email protected]

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