Balayage vs Foil Hair Highlights

Adding highlights to your hair is a quick and easy way to change your style.

Plus, it is very efficient, as even a basic treatment may work wonders for your hair.

There are two ways that you can do it, use balayage highlights or foil highlights.

However, most girls tend to ask themselves which one is better.

There has to be a winner in a battle between balayage vs. foil.

The answer is a bit more complicated than that, as both methods come with their own specific characteristics that set them apart.

Keep reading to help you determine which is which and if balayage or foil highlights are better for you.

What is the Difference Between Balayage and Foil

The balayage and foil methods will both change your hair in a similar manner. However, the two are drastically different when compared to each other.

The differences may be quite notable to a stylist based on the techniques used. However, some women may not know the differences based only on the shades and the root of the hair. Balayage is a method that requires hand painting the dye on the surface of the hair in miscellaneous places.

The word balayage is a French word that means “to sweep,” The method is also called hair painting. Due to the fact of hand painting your hair in random places, the outcome seems more natural.

Balayage is typically used for longer hair and gets non-uniform chunky highlights. You can even try a partial balayage that can be applied to medium-length hair.

On the other hand, foil highlights involve applying the dye on various parts of your hair and then wrapping it up in foil. The sections can be made to appear either thinner or thicker as the coloring method is more controlled.

Using foils, you can start dying your hair at the roots, while with a balayage, you can only start some two inches away from them.

When you wrap a strand of hair in foil, you trap some heat, which helps lighten the hair and works like a bleach-free hair-lightening method.

Pros and Cons of Both Methods

Since both methods are so drastically different, they can be used for various occasions. The technique sets them apart, each separately beneficial for a specific hairstyle.

Using Foil Highlighting Method

Balayage Pros and Cons


  • Generates a natural look.
  • Regrowth is not so noticeable and it requires less maintenance.
  • Gives you a very modern and trendy look.


  • It lasts between 3-6 months.
  • May turn out more subtle than you expect it.

Foil Pros and Cons


  • Produces and adds dimension and more depth to your hair.
  • Creates brighter and bolder hues for modern hair color ideas.
  • You can create both thinner and thicker sections, allowing you more versatility.


  • It requires more maintenance and touch-ups every 6-8 weeks.
  • Can result in a more dramatic color change.

Which Highlighting Technique is Better for Your Hair

Determining the type of technique to use is your decision alone. Only you will know which will suit your new look based on your ideas and desires. It also depends on if you want to switch to a more subtle look or change your appearance dramatically.

Balayage highlights will help you get a natural look. The maintenance involved with this technique is also minuscule. The process adds subtle hues to your hair strands and does not change the color of its roots.

Also, it may allow you to upgrade darker hair and perhaps get caramel balayage hair. On the other hand, foil highlights will help you achieve the opposite. You can get much more vivid colors and overhaul your appearance entirely.

There is not even a problem when adding highlights to black hair. However, the maintenance part is its biggest downfall. You will have to re-touch it much more often, depending on the growing speed of your roots.

Balayage vs Foil Hair

How to Maintain Balayage Highlights

Balayage hair comes with less, if not with any maintenance at all. The color you added to your hair is positioned away from the roots, somewhere in the middle. So there is no danger in the hair growing and the roots starting to show.

However, it also means that you should not do anything to preserve it.

You can use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner as part of your hair care routine. Also, you may limit heat styling, which can damage your hair and color.

The hair treatments you apply will help the hair grow stronger and get a nice shine which will continue to emphasize highlights in your hair.

How to Maintain Foils

Foil highlights are a bit harder to maintain. The primary and most important factor you have to consider is that the roots will eventually grow out and start to show. You are basically going to need to retouch the hair every six to eight weeks.

At the same time, you will need to apply a color-sensitive hair treatment and incorporate it into your routine. Also, you don’t need to shampoo your hair as much so as not to wash the color out faster than you expected.

Also, if you have blonde highlights, switch to using purple shampoo. That way, you will avoid getting those brassy strands we all hate.


Which highlighting method suits my hair type best?

It depends on the look that you want to get. Balayage is good for a more natural look without any drastic changes, while foils are great when you want to change the hair color completely.

Are balayage highlights or foil highlights more expensive?

Getting balayage highlights is much more expensive than foil highlights. It is because it takes more time and materials involved in creating one.

Are balayage highlights or foil highlights better for gray hair?

Both methods are suitable for gray hair, but balayage highlights may be ideal as they can cover bigger chunks of hair.

Which method gives longer-lasting results?

Balayage is a method that will last you a good three to six months without having to redo it. On the other hand, foils last some six to eight weeks or until your roots start showing.

Is the foil method more damaging than balayage?

Since the foil method uses heat to trap it with the hair, it can be a little more detrimental to your hair.

Vinnie - Barber

About the author: Vinnie – Barber

Vinnie is one of the members of the Beardoholic writers team. He’s also a barber and hairstylist for 15 years now and he has a kick-ass beard of his own, so he surely knows what makes a magnificent beard and hair and how to achieve them. He’s our go-to guy for all the latest beard and hairstyle trends and he always has a tip or two on how to grow and style a thick beard fast.

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