The Struggle is Real: Balayage vs. Foils

Many people know the term balayage due to the growth in social media. But do you really "know" what a balayage is? As a stylist, it surprises me to learn that a lot of women don't really know the differences between a highlight, balayage or an ombre. Many clients know the terminology of each technique but they don't understand what's actually involved. Before entering a salon here are some basic tips!


Balayage is the french word for the technique in which hair color is painted on the strands in a sweeping motion to give a natural sun-kissed look. The majority of the color that the client will see is in the mid-lengths and ends of the hair while softly transitioning from the base. As a result this technique requires much less maintenance.

When to Choose This Technique....

- When a client requests less maintenance

- When introducing someone to a color services

- Softening the regrowth of a foil

- BRB...Blondes. Redheads. Brunettes. "The Balayage" doesn't discriminate

Color by Andrae Devon


Foil highlights produces a much more controlled look than balayage. If you're looking for a symmetrical look, foiling might be the way to go. Foiling involves sectioning off hair and weaving strands in a thick or thin manor depending on the look you're going for and the texture of the hair. The foil has two purposes: To keep the lightening agent from touching the surrounding hair and to keep the product from weakening while processing.

When to Choose This Technique...

- For a controlled application

- Blending gray hair

- Strategic placement

- When you want less of a "rooted" look

Color by Amanda Natale


Ombre is the french word for "shadow." It is used when wanting to transition a darker shade into a lighter shade. The Ombre and balayage are both hand painting techniques, but have a much different end result and look . Ombre is meant to have a dark root, blended into a lighter mid-shaft, into a much lighter shade at the ends.

When to Choose This Technique...

- When looking for a less subtle look

- When looking for more of a transition from dark to light

- Fantasy color blending

- Bold look

Color by Romilda DaSilva


The problem with using trendy terms is everyone has a different way of perceiving things. The best way you can show your stylist what you really want is by bringing in 3 different photos.