Balayage vs. Foil: Which Technique is Best for You?

Balayage and Foil hair color

Balayage vs. Foil

It has always been up for debate whether balayage is better for your hair or traditional foiling. If you are confused about which technique is the best between these two; well, this article is just here to help you.

You need to know what type of hair you have to begin your hair coloring journey. You must also decide what amount of hair treatment you want to be done; just the top mane, half-length, full-length, etc. 

Then determine what kind of hair treatment you desire: Balayage or Foils. 

In this article, you will understand what exactly traditional foiling and balayage mean, how these techniques are executed, how often you need a touch-up, and which approach would suit your hair the best.

What is Balayage?

Balayage is originally a French word meaning 'sweep' or 'paint.' So, balayage means 'painting your hair.' Through the free-hand method, balayage helps you get a defined and blended color to your hair. It looks more natural than traditional highlights. 

The balayage technique will require your stylist to hand paint chunks of your hair instead of sectioning it piece by piece. Usually, a full balayage takes 1.5 to 3 hours to finish. Getting a full balayage done on your hair takes around $150 to $200. It may cost more if you visit a high-end salon.

If you are leaning towards getting a sun-kissed, natural look, it is suggested that you should go for balayage instead of highlights. The best part about balayage is; It is suitable for all hair types. You can get it done effortlessly, even if you have black hair.

foiling a woman hair
Hair foiling

What is Foiling?

The word means exactly what it says. Foiling is the process of sectioning your hair piece by piece, coloring it through the traditional highlighting method, and covering the colored section with a piece of foil so it won't touch the non-colored part. 

In foiling, you can jump from dark tones to light as the sections are separately colored and won’t mix. Hence, you get a bold, definite layer of highlights creating dimension and depth. 

Check what kind of hair type you have before getting drastic full-hair traditional foils. 

Highlights on long hair usually cost between $90 to $150, depending on the salon you visit and your hair length. It takes 2 to 6 hours to get highlights done, depending on the package you choose and the length of your hair.  

One disclaimer; if not appropriately applied, foiling can damage your hair. So, make sure your stylist is well trained in this field before you put your faith in them.  

hair color
Color can damage hair if not applied properly or on weak hair.

Balayage vs Foil: The Pros and Cons

There are a few key differences between balayage and foil that you should be aware of before making your decision. Let's look at the benefits and drawbacks of each technique.



  • More natural-looking results
  • Low-maintenance
  • It is possible to perform this procedure on all hair types and lengths.


  • The outcome depends on the stylist's ability.
  • It takes more time to achieve the desired results.



  • Faster results
  • More consistent results
  • It has the ability to produce both subtle and bold effects.


  • High maintenance
  • Touch-ups are required every few weeks.
  • If not done correctly, it can be damaging to the hair.

How Often Do You Need a Touch-Up?

Balayage: For it to be visible properly, it takes a few sittings to get Balayage done on your hair. Once you finish your main sitting, you should visit your salon every 12 to 14 weeks to get your hair touched up.

Foils: Normally, foils are done in one sitting. After your first sitting, you should visit your salon every 6 to 8 weeks to get your highlights touched up. The time for touch-up also depends on your hair growth.  

FAQs | Balayage and Foils

What's Better, Balayage Or Foils?

If you are a risk taker and want depth and dimension in your hair, you are suggested to go for highlights. You must go for balayage if you wish for a sun-kissed and natural look on your hair. Make sure you choose a good stylist and the best hair salon for balayage and foiling. 

 Is Balayage Quicker Than Foils?

No, it takes more time to get balayage done. Though balayage takes more time to get done, it is the most recommended technique to get warmer tones and soft grow outs. Balayage will help you get a long-lasting, beautiful and innate look. 

 Is Balayage Low-Maintenance Than Foils?

Yes. Balayage requires low maintenance as compared to foiling. You can go weeks without a touch-up with balayage; your hair will still look natural. On the other hand, foiling requires constant touch-ups, usually every 6-8 weeks. So, foiling is more expensive as well as time-consuming. 

Do Foils Damage Your Hair?

If not applied correctly, foils can cause damage to your hair by over-processing it and stripping it of natural oils.

Is Balayage More Expensive Than Foils?

At most salons, balayage is more expensive than foils, but there are a few factors that can influence the price. The length of your hair is the most important factor; the longer your hair, the more expensive the balayage.

Wrapping it Up

Great! Now you can decide whether to get balayage or foils on your hair. Make sure you visit a trusted hair salon with good customer reviews for hair treatments, as coloring your hair will always come with risks. 

Contributor: Alexey Kats is generally the owner as well as creative director at Architeqt Salon and Gallery which is located in Washington Square West in Philadelphia. Generally, Alexey has worked as a platform educator for so many companies like Sahag, Goldwell as well as his own venture which is known as Fountainhead Beauty. 


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