Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Balayage & Regular Highlighting

Q: What is the difference between regular highlighting and a balayage? I've heard that a balayage can give amazing results, much better than highlighting. Is a balayage more expensive? Is it maybe more damaging than regular highlights?
A: The cost of balayage highlighting depends on the salon you visit. The technique is deceptively simple, and it takes a skilled colorist to perform it properly. For most individuals, balayage is used to create gentle "sparks" of brightness in the hair, although it can create more dramatic effects as well.
Because the technique often involves applying a bleaching agent directly to the hair without any isolating material used (such as foil or a highlight cap) the colorist needs a steady hand and good eye for the processing. It's easier to test the processing on a foil since you can open one and check it by spraying some water to reveal the hair beneath, but with balayage, spraying water on the hair could mean the bleach running into areas you don't wish to have lightened.
The technique of balayage in case you are unfamiliar is where a skilled colorist paints directly onto the surface of the hair with a small brush or application device, creating fine lines using color or lightening agents. Nothing is used to isolate the chemical and so it is general made thicker and in a non-drip consistency. Alternately, if an individual has a signature style (pulled back taut along the scalp) or very specific hair wave pattern (large voluminous coils) balayage can be used to add glints of color or brightness to the hair or style to wonderful effect.
Related posts:
Advanced hair coloring and highlighting
The balayage under color technique
How to choose highlights that look natural
Can you please explain the balayage technique?