Balayage vs. Foil: Which Hair Highlighting Method is Right For You?

Hair Highlighting Methods

Balayage or foil highlights? You might be wondering what the differences are between the two, and which hair highlighting method is the right choice for you. Although they are both popular ways to highlight hair, there are notable differences. We’ve outlined below all you need to know about balayage and foil highlights, from benefits to considerations, so you can choose which process is best for you.

Balayage Highlights

Balayage highlights are created by hand painting the dye onto your hair. In fact, the word “balayage” is a French word that means “to sweep.” Because these highlights are hand-painted onto the hair in random sections, they can be more subtle and natural-looking than foil highlights.

Typically, balayage highlights work best on longer hair with the color application starting about one to two inches down from your roots. However, you can still enjoy this type of highlighting on medium-length hair too. With balayage highlights, you can achieve non-uniform chunky highlights, if desired.


  • Sun-kissed, natural look
  • Less upkeep with regrowth not as obvious
  • Modern and trendy look at any age


Balayage hair highlights can be more subtle and natural-looking than foil highlights so make sure this is the look you’re going for. Balayage highlights last up to 3-6 months with the proper care, so if you like less maintenance with your hair then this is the option for you.

Foil Highlights

Foil hair highlights involve applying the dye to sections of the hair and then wrapping these sections with foil. Depending on the look you’d like, the sections can be thinner or thicker. This color method is more controlled, starting at the hair roots, and traps the heat with the foil, so your hair can be lightened more dramatically.


  • Adds depth, dimension, and shine to your hair
  • Color can be brighter and bolder because of the technique
  • Foil sections can be thicker or thinner, depending on the look you want


Foiling requires more maintenance because your hair roots need a touch-up about every 6 to 8 weeks to keep it looking vibrant. With foil highlights, you can achieve a softer, subtle look or a bolder look―whatever you desire. So, if you want a more dramatic color change (like a few shades lighter), then foil highlights would work best for you.

Wrap Up

The kind of highlights you want largely depends on the look you want to achieve. Whether it’s balayage or foil highlights, be sure to bring in a photo of hair highlights you like to your hairstylist to discuss. If you’d like more help in choosing which highlighting method is right for you, you can schedule a consultation with one of Jessica’s Color Room hairstylists at
860-344-8677 (Middletown, CT).

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