I’m noticing in the salon a lot of people are confused as to what hair painting exactly is. They’re not sure how it differs form the traditional foil highlights they’ve been seeing done in the salon for years and years. It’s always nice to have options so let’s make it clear what the difference between these highlighting techniques are. 

Hair Painting or Balayage

Hair painting or balayage is a more sun-kissed, natural looking highlighting technique. Balayage is a french word that means to sweep or to paint. The look is created by hand painting lightener mainly on the mid-shaft of the hair and ends in desired areas of the head. On selected areas these highlights will migrate softly up towards the base or top of the head. Generally more so in the front of the hair by the face, to create a more natural look as if the sun lightened those pieces of hair. This can give a more “rooty” look because the highlights are not placed side by side all the way up to the roots. This look is extremely soft and natural looking and requires less maintenance than traditional foils as it grows out with less of an obvious regrowth line. Because this technique is usually done open air (without the use of foils) it typically does not lift the highlight as high as it would in a foiled highlight. 

Foiled Highlights

Foiled highlights are a great way to achieve a lighter blond lift to the hair. It involves slicing or weaving the hair that is going to be lightened and isolating it with a foil. Before the foil is closed and made into a little package, lightener is placed on the hair strands. This foil package locks heat in, allowing for the hair to process to a lighter shade. The lightener is applied very close to the root and will give a more uniform lightness from root to end. Foil highlights do not grow out as natural looking as the balayage technique as they are put in more systematically and a noticeable demarkation line will be evident. 


There are also lowlights to consider. Lowlights are put in the hair the same way as foil highlights but are a darker colour than your natural hair colour or current base colour. They work with the highlights to help break up any solidness to the blond by giving more dimension to the hair, making the look more natural. 

Now that we have established the different types of techniques it is easier to decide what is the right look for you, what fits your needs and what to ask your stylist for!

Want a more “rooty” naturally sun-kissed highlighted look with lower maintenance? Hair painting/balayage may be for you. 

Want more precise uniform blond highlights from root to end? Foil highlights sounds like the way to go.

But all this being said, there is no reason why these techniques can’t be used together!! Depending on what is preexisting in your hair and the look you’re after, any of these can be done in one session or multiple sessions. And don’t worry if you already have one look or usually get one technique put in your hair and want to switch it up, we will know which technique to use when and where to give you the style you desire!

Feel free to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgable stylists to discuss your hair wants and needs! A picture speaks a thousand words so bring them or your phone along so we can work together to give you the look you deserve.