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Balayage Vs. Foils: Which One Is Best For You?

Pros and cons of balayage and foils.

Dimensional blonde

Before you go to the salon to get highlights it is important to know the difference between balayage and foils. However your hairstylist is the one who will help you decide which one is best, depending on your desired look. And they might even use both. It isn't your job to pick which technique a hairstylist should use but it is important to know why. Especially since most think balayage is a look and not a technique. You can actually get the same look with foils. Read on to learn the pros and cons of balayage and foils to understand why your hairstylist might pick one technique over the other.

Subtle highlights


The word balayage means to sweep in french which that is how the color is applied. Balayge is a hand painted application that creates natural looking sun kissed hair color. The color is not put in a foil but instead processes in open air and can be covered with saran wrap. The result of balayage is very soft and produces warm hues. This techniques is best used on clients that desire a truly sun kissed look which is a warmer outcome. This is a con if you want a cool toned color. In that case foils would be a better option. The main pro of balayage and why it is so popular is because of how low maintenance it is. My clients go between 3 to 6 months. Some even come in once a year in the warmer months. They are able to go this long because of how soft the grow out is. With balayage you will never have any hard lines because of the soft gradient that is created with the color.

Blonde highlights


Creating highlights with foils offers more lift for a brighter result. Hairstylist have more control of the lift with foils. The pro of foiling is it is effective on every hair color and the end result can be warm or cool depending on the desired look. If you are looking for bright dimension all over foils would be the best option. Especially if your desired look is a cool toned color. Balayage doesn't lift the hair as bright and cool tones are a lot harder to achieve. The con of foiling is it isn't as natural looking as balayage. However there are ways to make foils look natural with the help of placement and a root melt or shadow root.

Root melt vs shadow root

Root Melt VS Shadow Root

A root melt creates the look of a balayage by adding a color slightly lighter then your natural hair color. It is applied from the roots down to the start of the mids. This completely erases any line of demarcation so you can't tell where the natural base color ends and the highlights begin. A shadow root is similar but isn't dragged down as low. A shadow root is used to blur the place at the roots where the highlights and natural color meet. It is used to soften while maintaining brightness at the roots. Both are great for creating a more natural look that requires less maintenance. My clients go between 2 to 3 months. They are not able to go as long in between their appointments as balayage but prefer a brighter all over look.

Caramel highlights


Another option is foilayage which is a technique that combines balayage and foiling. I do this technique a lot. Honest I rarely do a true balayage because most of the time my clients want a brighter end result then what a balayage can offer. A foilayage is teased sections that are hand painted and then put in foils. Teasing the section creates a soft gradient along with hand painting. This technique is prefect for someone that wants the look of a balayage but also wants a bright end result. This technique allows me to get cool tones or warm tones.

Hairstylist Jessalyn in her salon

During your consultation share with your hairstylist your desired look and how offend you would like to come in. From there your hairstylist will pick which technique will work best for your hair. I feel like everyone wants balayage so I decided to write this post to share more knowledge about why your hairstylist might not choose to do it. I love this technique but unfortunately balayage is not always able to get my clients bright and cool enough. I do balayage on my clients that naturally have a lighter hair color and that want a warm or neutral toned color.

If you are in the Portsmouth NH area I would love to be your hairstylist!

I hope you found this blog helpful and to stay up to date with my weekly blog posts click here to subscribe.

Until next week. Creatively, Jessalyn


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