Balayage Or Foil Highlights — Which Hair Coloring Style Is Right For You?

It's so tempting to go blond to capture the glamorous look and feel of a movie star. After all, one of 2022's trendiest hair colors is expensive blond, which looks as luxurious as it sounds. Perhaps you're looking to get super lightened hair that modernizes your look and gives you that sun-kissed glow.

However, committing to a full head of dye can be very expensive and time-consuming, and even maintaining darker honey blond hair requires more effort than some of us will want to put into it. If you love how light hair looks but don't know if you're ready or comfortable enough to dye all your strands, there are ways to only partially lighten it instead. As Inscape Beauty Salon notes, highlighting your hair is a great way to bring dimension and depth to your hair color without the damaging effects some all-over hair dyes may have. Two hair coloring methods to lighten your locks include foil highlights and balayage.

What to know about foil highlights

Foil highlighting is a trusted and commonly used method of highlighting locks. According to Orenda Hair, the foils separate sections of hair, so only some of your strands will get lightened. When you get foil highlights, the whole piece of hair will get lighter, from top to bottom, and the color or lightness can be as low-key or drastic as you desire. Regarding maintenance, you'll typically need to revisit your hairstylist to get the highlights maintained every two or two or a half months (via YouBeauty).

When you opt for foil highlights, you'll need to choose between partial and full highlights. The partial method will only lighten the top area for a more subtle or contrasty appearance, while full highlights will lighten strands from all areas of your head, per Southern Obsession Salon. Regarding price, partial highlights can cost anywhere between $20 and $100, and full highlights are usually more expensive, consisting of prices between $75 and $150 (via StyleSeat).

If you want a clearer vision of what foil highlights look like, you can search #foilhighlights on Instagram, where you'll find variations of this style ranging from super blond to warmer highlights to lots of contrast on dark hair.

Everything you should know about the balayage

On the other hand, the balayage technique doesn't use foil. For this hair coloring method, your hairdresser will paint the color onto your locks for more of a gradient effect (via Luxy Hair). So, unlike the style that foil highlights provide, the hue typically won't consistently cover the whole strand when you get a balayage — it should be more visible toward the lower ends of your hair. Balayage is very low-maintenance; since your whole strand isn't going to get lighter, you won't need to worry about roots, so you won't need to get a touch-up at the salon until after around four months have passed, per Salon 833.

Anyone who wants to see a plethora of examples of the balayage look can search #balayage on Instagram, where you can see how versatile this style is because there are so many different ways to flaunt it. For instance, you can never go wrong with a classic warm blond balayage. Or, a balayage featuring lighter shades of brown on brunettes with dark hair is an excellent choice for a subtle, romantic look. For a more intense look, a platinum blond balayage is super sexy.

Another exciting aspect of the balayage method is that while most people first think of using this technique for lightening blond or brown hair, you can get more creative with it. For instance, you can try a red balayage or even a purple balayage if you feel bold!

Which you should get depends on what you're looking for

So, it's time to circle back to the primary question: Should you get a balayage or foil highlights? The bottom line is that one option isn't necessarily better than the other — it just depends on what look you want. If you desire more traditional highlights, foil highlights will probably be a better fit, as you'll leave the salon with some lighter strands and a cohesive look. But if you want more of a unique, somewhat two-toned look, you should explore the balayage.

Furthermore, a balayage typically requires less maintenance since, as mentioned earlier, you won't have to stress about your roots. Thus, if you have a busy schedule and don't want to commit to frequent touch-ups, a balayage will be more convenient. However, if you enjoy treating yourself to consistent trips to the salon, the maintenance required for foil highlights shouldn't be an issue for you. Regarding price, the comparison is tricky to figure out. It seems like partial highlights are the most affordable option at first, with prices between $20 and $100, while a balayage can cost anywhere between $70 and $450 or more, per StyleSeat. However, the touch-up costs will add up for the partial highlights, which is why we can't definitively determine whether partial highlights or a balayage would be more affordable, but full highlights seem to be the most expensive option.

So, are you going to get foil highlights or a balayage?