Blonde Breakdown | Difference Between Highlights & Balayage


Full highlight. Partial Highlight. Babylights. Balayage. The list goes on and on when it comes to lightening services in the salon. But how do you know which technique is best to achieve your #hairgoals? We put together a description of each technique to help clarify any confusion. We also suggest scheduling a consultation with a stylist if this does not help you narrow down your options.

Traditional Highlights

Full Highlight

A full highlight consists of sections of the hair that are woven and lightened from the root to the ends. This leaves some natural hair in between to add dimension. There are certain sectioning techniques that are used by your stylist that ensure they avoid a streaky or striped effect in the hair. These sections are kept in foil with lightener to isolate them from the other hair not being lightened. This process is repeated all over the head.

Partial Highlight 

This method is similar to a full highlight. Small woven sections are lighted from the root to ends and are incased in foil. However with a partial highlight, only the top section is lightened. This service can look very natural since it lightens the hair similar to the way the sun may lighten your hair.


Babylights are a superfine woven highlight. This process is used to blend highlights into the base, not to create any drastic dimension in the hair. This is usually a technique that a stylist will use is combination with others to create a unique look based on each of their clients’ look.



Balayage is a technique, not a style. In French, balayage means to sweep or paint and that is exactly what your stylist is doing. When they are performing the balayage technique, they are hand painting your highlights to create a gradual, natural graduation. This technique creates a blended, multi-tonal and sun-kissed appearance.


Foilyage is similar to balayage in the sense of technique. With foilyage, each section is hand painted and then placed in foil like a traditional highlight. This method helps amplify the lightening result but concealing the heat created by the lightening process.

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