Highlights….Lowlights….Balayage…. Ombré …..it’s confusing to keep up with all of the latest trends in hair color. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of switching up your hairstyle or doing something different with color. Or maybe you’re just looking to keep up with “what’s hot” in beauty. We’re here to clarify the difference between highlights and Balayage.

The Difference Between Highlights and Balayage – Explained

There is much debate over what the difference is between highlights and Balayage. We understand, as there are so many options to choose from at the salon. Jenn, founder of Vinaccia Hair Goddess, happens to be a professional colorist, and someone who is well-educated on all things related to hair color. She is also an amateur photographer who is well-read in the area of color theory. Sit back and let us guide you to your journey to the most stunning hair color.

Traditional Highlights

Most people are introduced to highlights in the form of traditional highlights. The process of involves using foil to lighten strands of hair from roots to the end in a specific section. Strands of hair in-between are left in the natural color. Adding highlights will enhance your natural locks without being over-the-top. They are more than just a streak of lightened color that contrast darker hair. They have the potential to add dimension to natural color. A professional hair colorist knows how to master the art of bringing depth and dimension to your hair.

Balayage Color

Balayage is a hair color trend that has gained a lot of traction. The word balayage is actually a French term that means “sweeping”. It refers to a sweeping of color or lightener on the hair, freehand. Unlike traditional highlights, it involves no foil. With Balayage, the color is placed closer to the roots. There is an increased brightening along the midsection and ends. The lighter colors are blended throughout the base of the hair and gradually gets thicker towards the ends. As a result, it is softer and more natural-looking.

Ombré Color

Ombré has been all the rage for a while now, but how is it different than Balayage? For starters, Ombré is a transition of color from your natural color to a lighter or darker tone.  Think of Ombré as a gradient- it transitions from a lighter to darker color or vice versa. It is done with a backcombing technique to achieve the style.

Balayage, Highlights or Ombre?

If you are debating between Balayage and ombre color, here is a handy chart to help you decide what style to choose from.


  • Technique that can be used for any hair length
  • Follow a more structured hair pattern and is more carefully placed than Balayage, which is more freehand.
  • Highlights are done by saturating the section of hair right from the roots to the ends, whereas Balayage is done by painting the dye from the midshafts to the ends.
  • Can be more intensely lightened rather than 2-3 shades lighter
  • Since it is done from the roots – requires more maintenance.


  • Technique that can be used for any hair length
  • Applied with a painting-on technique most applied to the outer layers of the hair
  • Creates natural, “sun-kissed” highlights
  • A change of only 2-3 shades for a more natural look
  • Balayage technique can be used to create an ombre effect


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What a beautiful, dimensional blonde! Michelle is a low maintenance girl and this look is perfect for someone with darker natural hair that doesn't want to spend a lot of time maintaining highlights. The highlights are placed spaced out, so at the top half of her head you see more of her natural color than the blonde. I also tone the the highlights near the base a darker blonde so when they grow out there isn't a harsh line of demarcation but more like transition from dark to light. She only come to see me 3 times a year for a cut with the "Lived In Blonde Balayage" Balayage service. With more depth and dimension, this service looks more natural and is better for her skin tone, as well as less damaging to her hair. Before last year she had never highlighted her hair before so we started with a full Balayage highlight to lighten up more of the bottom half of her hair. It made such a difference for her! Thinking of changing it up? Let's do it! Message me to set up a consultation and together we'll decide on the perfect new look for you! www.vinacciahair.com #winterparkhair

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  • Generally, for mid-length to long hair
  • Faded in a straight line down the hair, darker at the roots through the mid-shaft, gradually making the hair lighter toward the ends
  • Can be lightened within the same color chain such as brown to caramel, or accent colors such as pink or blue.
  • It can range from subtle to dramatic
  • Can be reversed by going from light at the roots to dark at the ends

Other Varieties of Hair Coloring Techniques

If you are feeling inspired to try something different, there are other types of color trends to try out. Here are just a few other techniques to consider:

  • Babylights – Just like how it sounds, babylights are a method to make hair look slightly sun-kissed. They are very delicate, white-blonde highlights. Babylights are created using a color technique that is made to appear as if your hair has been lightened by the sun.
  • Sombré – Similar to Ombré, Sombré is a combination of “Ombré” and “subtle”. It is exactly how it sounds – a subtle blend of a darker shade to a lighter shade. It is a more understated version of Ombré.
  • Foilayage – This technique is a combination of Balayage and traditional foils. The result is a very natural, sun-kissed look. Balayage won’t get as light as foils, and it is perfect for women who want lighter blonde pieces throughout the hair.

What Is The Required Maintenance For Each Color?

Maintenance might factor into your decision in which color style that you choose. Traditional highlights need to be touched up Every 6-8 weeks. The overgrowth can be very apparent. With balayage, you can let it grow out for about 3-6 months. Although, this time frame can differ between clients. Regardless of whether you get highlights or Balayage, it is recommended that you get a toner. This is to ensure that brassy tones do not peak through.

Should I get Highlights, Balayage, or Ombre?

Now that you have learned the difference between these techniques, which one is the best for you? If you want something subtle, balayage can be perfect for you. It will create a more blended result. With foiled highlights, your hairdresser has more control with color. Keep in mind that Balayage can cause the most damage because it requires a higher developer in order to layer the lightener to achieve the desired result. If you are still unsure of what to do, you can book a consultation with Jenn.

Jenn welcomes all of her clients back to her salon and is also accepting new clients. You’ll see a big difference in your hair when you visit a professional hairdresser like Jenn at Vinaccia Hair Goddess. Jenn has recently relocated her salon, which is now at on 601-A S, N New York Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789 in Suite 117.  Ready to transform your hair’s look, feel, and vitality? Schedule an appointment today. Call Jenn at 407.900.3656 or set one up here.