The famous rivalry: balayage or highlights. It can be tricky to know which one to choose when going blonde, which is why we thought we’d break down each option along with some pros and cons to help you decide.

What is a hair balayage?

Balayage refers to the hair technique whereby a hair colourist hand paints a lightener onto the hair, so there really is an element of art to it. 

Here’s a mini French lesson to help you understand balayage further; balayage is actually the French term for “to sweep”, so you can imagine the bleach being applied in a sweeping motion.

Balayage or highlights on long hair

What are highlights in hair?

Highlights on the other hand, are a foiling technique where your stylist will carefully take sections of the hair, weave them out and then lighten the weaved out hair. Foils are then placed to keep the bleach from bleeding, and they also help the bleach to develop effectively.

Here at The Hair Lounge, we love using Paper Not Foils to reduce our use of aluminum foil that can greatly impact the environment. You can read more about how we are a sustainable salon here

Blonde highlights

Balayage or highlights? Let’s find out which one is right for you

Now you know the difference between balayage and highlights, we’ll help you decide which one is right for you with a few questions. 

How blonde do you want to be?

If you’re interested in getting a balayage or highlights, we’d assume you’re looking to go lighter. If you’re not, you might want to look into hair tints instead. 

So the question is, how blonde do you want to be? Do you love blondes on the lighter end of the spectrum, or are you more interested in really natural looking tones? 

If you prefer really bright, light blonde hair then highlights might be more suitable for you. This is because your stylist can weave out really small pieces of hair to get you very light. 

However, if you’re looking to get a more natural look that is closer to your existing hair colour, then a balayage is perfect as you can keep the darkness in your hair whilst adding lightness for a bit of dimension. 

That being said, it’s still possible to get very light with a balayage, but you won’t get that full coverage look that highlights achieve.

Where do you want the lightness?

That leads us to the next question; where do you want the lighter areas to be placed? If you want bright ends with a darker root, then balayage would be the easiest way for your stylist to achieve this. With the balayage technique, the bleach can really be beautifully blended to give you that seamless finish.

However, if you want blonde from root to ends, then highlights are your best option. If you want to be blonde on every strand of your hair, then a scalp bleach would be needed, but highlights will still give you very bright, full coverage results without the harsh regrowth of a scalp bleach.

Can you keep up with maintenance?

Speaking of regrowth, you might want to consider whether you will be able to keep up with maintenance when deciding between the two. Since balayage leaves the root area untouched, regrowth will not be harsh and you can theoretically let it grow out as much as you want.

However, with regular trims to keep your hair healthy, top ups are definitely needed. We recommend coming back for your next balayage every 8-12 weeks. 

Whilst balayages are very low maintenance, highlights require a bit more love and care. Since the bleach is placed close to the root, you might find the regrowth lines are a little harsher than with a balayage. So, you’ll need to come for a root touch-up every 6-8 weeks to keep your hair looking fresh.


Highlights Balayage
Achieves a brighter, lighter blonde Results are more natural
Lightener placed from roots to ends Lightener focused on mid-lengths and ends
High maintenance (every 6-8 weeks) Low maintenance (every 8-12 weeks)

Get your dream blonde at The Hair Lounge

Have you decided between balayage or highlights? If so, our expert stylists would love to make your blonde hair dreams come true. Or, if you’re still not quite sure which is best, pop in for a consultation and we’ll help your visions come to life.

We have 3 salons across London and Essex; find out more information about each one below.

Book now at Greenwich

Book now at Grays, Essex

Book now at Notting Hill

Feel free to contact us if there’s anything we can help you with.