What Is Balayage? Pros, Cons, Cost, Balayage Vs Highlights - 2023

Shalu B

Updated At  10 Jul 23


Want to know what is balayage and why is it one of the most popular hair highlighting techniques? Want to know the differences between balayage and ombre? Our guide covers Balayage vs ombre, Balayage vs highlights in detail.

Balayage hair has revolutionized the way we think of a color job. It has been a serious game changer. Balayage on black hair and blonde hair looks stunning. A favorite amongst celebrities, Balayage hair is here to stay. It is only fitting that we answer all your questions about this latest hair trend that has taken the world by fever.




We have covered:

  • What is Balayage
  • Pros and Cons of balayage
  • Balayage vs ombre
  • Balayage vs highlights
  • Balayage vs baby lights
  • Hair care post balayage
  • Balayage Hair FAQs



What Is Balayage?


The word Balayage originated from the French word ‘balayer’, which means ‘to sweep’ or ‘to paint’. Even the Balayage meaning has come from the French language.



What Is Balayage Hair Color Technique?


Balayage is a hair coloring technique where the colorist takes small triangular sections of hair and colors them up, close and tight to give a soft seamless finish with the use of his hands.


Yes, It is a technique which uses free hand motions. There are no clear fade lines differentiating the colored and non-colored hair. Various light and dark hues are chosen based on the base color of your hair.


Read More: Red Balayage



Balayage Before And After

You will see that Balayage hair often starts from the middle section and not from up the roots. It goes from dark in the middle to lighter towards the hair ends.

However, some darker pieces are left at the bottom to add definition. And the result is soft blended natural sun-kissed look.

Since it is a hair coloring technique, people often get confused with the differences between Balayage hair, ombre hair and balayage highlights.



When To Not Go For Balayage?

Hairstylists recommend to not go for balayage hair in the following cases:-

1) Strong Pigmented Hair - If your hair are already coated with something like a henna dye or have a strong pigmented color, then foils might be a necessity. In this specific case, balayage hair might not be recommended.

2) Non availability of extra time - Balayage hair takes time and if you are looking for the best results, the process can not be rushed. So if you are looking for a quick process, then balayage might not be the best choice.



Balayage Hair Pros And Cons



  • Unique - Custom blended colors are used for doing Balayage hair. You will have your very own unique hair color which nobody else can possibly have.
  • Natural - There are no differentiating lines which separate the colored and non-colored hair. Balayage is softer and blended which gives a natural sun kissed look to your hair.
  • Low Maintenance - Balayage hair is very low on maintenance. No regular touch ups are needed. All you have to do is keep your hair healthy.
  • Cost Effective - Since Balayage has a natural and blended look, hair regrowth has no effect on it. The newly grown hair blend effortlessly with the existing Balayage hair.
  • Universal - Balayage has a universal appeal. It is suitable for all ages, hair length and hair texture.



  • Does Not Cover Greys - Yes, greys cannot be covered by Balayage. It only helps in blending the grey hair.
  • Balayage hair will have the same effects on hair as every other color job. In the long run, it will dry out your hair.


Balayage Hair Cost

In New York, if you decide to get a full balayage hair treatment, you need to pay at least $400 or above. If you opt for mini or partial hair balayage, you need to pay a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $300. In other places, getting a full balayage hair treatment will cost between $100- $200 while getting a partial balayage hair treatment will cost about $75 to $100. So depending on the city and type of treatment the cost can vary significantly. 




Balayage Hair Color Process 


Everyone's hair type is different. Though it is difficult to estimate absolute time to get balayag hair, usually, the process takes three to five hours.   

The steps involved to get balayage hair are - 

1. The first and foremost step is the evaluation of the your hair. You can expect several questions from your stylist. The questions will vary from how you part the hair to how frequently you use a hairdryer. You can ask for a slight trimming beforehand. Also, one clarify queries about maintenance. 

2. The second step is the most important one, that is, the freehand painting. This step is the longest part of your hairdo. You have to sit tight for at least one hour and a maximum of two hours. Your stylist will go through the sectioning of hair before he/she proceeds with dipping the brush into the lightener and doing the sweeping. Keep your phone, book, and some beverage nearby so that you can pass the time till the balayage hair color is done. 

3. Since lightening gets done much more quickly when heat is applied, you need to sit tight for some time till the hair drying is complete. 

4. The next step includes rinsing of hair. Rinsing is only done when the hair locks have reached the shade you want. 

5. The fifth step is all about giving your highlighted hair the appropriate nourishment. More than often, this nourishment is provided by your stylist when he/she does the protein treatment. 

6. Your stylist will do the toning if you wanted a blonde gold balayage hair color and you have an ash brown hair base. The blending is done with the help of toner. 

7. Once this is done, the stylist will apply a gloss on your hair that will restore the moisture. This step takes about ten minutes or so. 

8. Shampoo and conditioner will be used. Ultimately, your stylist will trim your hair and blow dry it. 



Balayage Hair Comparisons   




Balayage Vs Ombre

Ombre is yet another very popular hair color trend. And it is very easy to get confused between the two. But unlike Balayage hair, ombre hair is characterized by a drastic color change towards the hair ends.

If you want to know which is better between Balayage and ombre, check out the differences below.

  • Balayage uses longer hair pieces. Whereas ombre starts below the middle point.
  • Some darker pieces are left towards the end in Balayage but in ombre all ends are affected
  • Ombre is a gradation from dark shade to a lighter one and brings in a drastic in your face color change whereas the goal in Balayage is to achieve blended natural looking hair that look sun kissed.
  • Ombre is made to look like your hair has been dip dyed. Balayage hair on the other hand had a much softer and blended look.
  • Look at ombre as more of a style. Balayage is a hair coloring technique.
  • Since ombre hair is more noticeable, it requires more maintenance as compared to Balayage hair which requires very low maintenance.

If you are looking for blonde balayage hair ideas and inspiration, do check out our guide on the same.





Balayage Vs Highlights

Traditionally, the hair was colored with the help of caps and foils until Balayage came on to the scene. It is different from highlighting in the following ways:

  • Highlighting is done with the help of foils whereas hair Balayage is hand painted
  • Highlights are usually stripy. Balayage gives more of a soft blended look with no clear differentiating lines between the colored and non-colored pieces
  • In highlighting sections of hair are saturated from the roots to the ends. Balayage stays on the surface.
  • Highlights need to be touched up again with hair regrowth whereas in Balayage hair, the regrowth has no effect on the color. Everything just blends in smoothly.




Balayage Vs Babylights

Babylights are a toned down version of highlights done with the help of foils. They are very fine and are usually added along with the normal highlights to give depth and dimension to hair. Balayage is a hair coloring technique of its own which is hand painted for a natural seamless look.



Things To Keep In Mind Before Going For Balayage

Before deciding to go for balayage, make sure to do the following:-

  • Get a consultation before going for Balayage hair
  • Find the right salon. Choose a trained and experienced colorist. If your colorist is not good, you will end up with botched results.
  • Take your hair inspiration pictures to show your stylist so that he gets an idea about what is it that you want.
  • It might look easy but it is not. This is a technique best left to professionals. Do not try it at home.


Balayage Hair After Care

One you have gone for balayage hair, make sure to take care of the following.

  • Use sulfate free hair products.
  • Do a hair mask weekly to maintain hair health
  • Use shampoo and conditioner specially made for colored hair
  • Wash hair with lukewarm water and not hot water



Balayage Hair Color Ideas




1. Red Balayage Hair Color

No color screams 'I am bold and wild' more than red. If your personality is the same, choose this red balayage hair highlight. 

Check out our guide to find 60+ Red Balayage Hair Ideas for inspiration.


Ash-brown-balayage (1)


3. Ash Brown Balayage Hair

Do you want a simple yet stunning highlight? If yes, go for this one. It works on short hair as well. 

Check out our guide to find 25 Ash Brown Balayage Hair Ideas for inspiration.




4. Blonde Balayage 

This balayage hair color is ideal for various occasions. You neither have to worry about your hair while attending office meetings nor while attending a fancy dinner party.

If you are looking for new hairstyles, check out the 25 best Blonde Balayage Hair color ideas.




5. Ombre Balayage

Needless to say, maintaining this balayage hair color is not a convenient job. Proceed with caution. 

Check out our guide to find 25 Ombre Balayage Hair Ideas for inspiration.




6. Zero Fussy Caramel Balayage 

This subtle and non-dramatic caramel balayage isn't restricted to a particular hair texture. 

Check out our guide to find 25 Caramel Balayage Hair Ideas for inspiration.




7. Brown Balayage Hair Color

If you opt for this brown balayage hair highlight with face framing layers, you don't need to worry whether this hairdo will work out with the shape of your face. It is for nothing that balayage is considered to be versatile. 

Check out our guide to find 25 Brown Balayage Hair Ideas for inspiration.





8. Balayage Highlights

If you have blonde hair and need a low-maintenance hair highlight technique, opt for this brunette hair color idea. 

Check out our guide to find 25 Balayage highlights hair ideas for inspiration.



Frequently Asked Questions



Q. How much time does Balayage take?

Depending upon your hair length and the amount of hair you want highlighted, the procedure can take anywhere from 10 minutes to up to 3 hours.


Q. How much maintenance is required for Balayage hair?

Balayage hair is very low maintenance. Since it has a softer, blended and natural look, you don’t have to rush out to your salon frequently to get them retouched. The new growth blends in perfectly.


Q. What should be done to maintain and take care of Balayage hair?

Balayage hair is not high on maintenance. You should however make sure your hair look healthy. Balayage looks good when your hair is healthy.


Q. How long does Balayage last?

Balayage hair can last up to 4 months which makes them very cost effective.


Q. Can Balayage be done on curly hair?

Yes, absolutely. Balayage is suitable for all hair types and textures. It works especially well with curly hair as it is easier to paint each curl separately.


Q. Is Balayage done only on long hair?

No, Balayage is suitable for all hair lengths from short bobs to long mermaid-esque hair except very short cuts like pixie.


Q. Can Balayage be done in any color?

The base color of your hair influences the shade for Balayage normally. But, you can get any other colors as well.


Q- How To Get Balayage Hair Color Done Smoothly? 

Mainstream highlight techniques use foil. However, balayage hair color involves only freehand painting or sweeping. The only tool needed is a premium quality brush and a lightener to dip the brush. 

Balayage hair without bleach is unusual. Your stylist will follow up the bleaching by toning and glossing of hair.

It is recommended to consult the hairstylist before deciding to get balayage hair done as the whole procedure is a leap of faith.


Q- How To Get Balayage Hair At Home?

You can do balayage at home flawlessly if you follow the steps mentioned below. 

1. Begin by applying a moisturizer along the length of your hairline. 
2. Comb your hair properly. 
3. Wrap a medium-length towel around your upper torso, that is, shoulders. 
4. Wear gloves on your hands. 
5. Follow it up by mixing the color. 
6. If you want a natural, sun-kissed look, dip the brush into the colors mixed by you. Then, apply the color from your hair's middle portion towards the end. 
7. Wait for half an hour. 
8. Lastly, rinse off your hair after thirty minutes. However, before you rinse off your hair, try to apply any good quality color conditioner. 


Q- How To Take Care Of Your Balayage Hair? 

Be it balayage hair or be it traditional highlight, both can cause fatal damage to your hair. Go through these two steps given below to prevent that damage.

1. Use any hair mask. 
2. Use any purple shampoo.