The Differences and Benefits
Typically foiled or traditional highlights are done to lighten the hair from the roots to the ends, producing a lighter overall effect. Balayage highlights, also known as freestyle or hand-painted highlights, are diffused at the root and then get progressively lighter through the ends. This technique provides a more natural-looking placement of highlights.
Some colorists like to use both techniques, hand painting highlights but placing them in foils to help speed and control the processing. Many feel this technique, known affectionately as foliage, produces more controlled, less brassy results.
The main benefit of the balayage technique is that it produces a less obvious grow-out. In fact you can go months without having to touch up your highlights.
The more structured your highlights, the more often you’ll need touch ups.
For traditional highlights done in foil from roots to ends you’ll likely need touch ups every 6-8 weeks. However, when balayage is done, you can go anywhere between 3-6 months. The longer you allow your freehand highlights to grow out, the more they will take on an ombré or lived-in appeal.
Neither traditional foiled highlights nor balayage highlights, or the foliage hybrid version, should result in damaged hair as long as the colorist carefully regulates the processing time, making sure to process just long enough to get the desired result all while maintaining the healthy condition of the hair.
With traditional highlights, generally only the new growth is lightened, but with balayage, the already-lightened hair is lightened even more so it is extra prone to damage. In the right hands, any of these techniques can lift the hair with minimal damage. That’s why it is vital to use the services of a professional colorist who can guide you safely to beautiful hair color without the damage.