What Is Balayage?: Understanding Your Balayage Hair & Application Techniques

February 21, 2023by definehair

What Is Balayage?



Balayage; this French word means “sweeping.” Relating that to hair terminology and beauty, it means to glide through a hair lightener while creating multiple highlights in the process. The popular balayage technique simply involves free-hand painting of highlights on the natural hair or hair extensions. The creative painting often helps to create a natural-like and soft gradation of lightness on the edges.

The outcome of a typical balayage look could be compared to a timeout at the beach and the almost perfect highlights on a child’s hair. Many often subject the natural-looking highlights to recreating the balayage hair blonde look alone. However, the results look gorgeous on brunette, brown or dark, as well as ash hair. Whichever hair colour you long for, you’d get the sun-kissed dimensions.

We have varying application preferences for getting that look. Some colorists approach coloring by separating with cotton pieces, many would rather not, while others use foils for easy division. The results you desire may sometimes be dependent on the coloring approach of achieving the balayage hairstyle.  Regardless, the free-hand painting, customized, and natural-looking coloration make balayage so popular.

 Differences Between Highlights & Balayage

Many often love to know the differences between these two… So let’s get to it!

Highlights in hair design generally refer to a section or few sections of the hair usually lighter than the base color. Contrary to what many argue about, highlights aren’t stereotypical to blondes alone but generally mean lightening a few sections or strands of the hair – which often makes it different from other parts.



When applying highlights, colorists use the foiling method to achieve the level of coloration needed. The sheets of foil help highlight the desired areas easily, prevent the lightening product from extending to other parts, as well as trap heat for effective lightening. Foil highlights are arranged on the scalp to help to lighten the hair from the base.

Balayage, on the other hand, involves the free-hand application of highlights without using sheets of foils (foiling technique). With balayage hair coloration, you’d get an even, precise, and natural gradation of lightness on each strand of hair. Since it’s free-hand coloring, balayage makes it easy to achieve the fading effect common to all blonde hair types.

Hair Extensions Near Me


The highlighter application goes deeper into the scalp while causing a fading transition towards the ends. Ideally, all balayage hair ideas follow a trend of starting away from the roots, to the middle area, and down to the ends of the hair. From afar, both highlights and balayage look similar but the difference begins to unravel as you move closer.

For all things pretty and the most gorgeous coulorings and highlights come visit us at Define Hair Studio!