Home Hair Foilyage Vs Balayage – Everything You Need To Know

Foilyage Vs Balayage – Everything You Need To Know

by Gabbi

Foilyage, balayage, foil highlights, teasylights – all of these hair terms can easily get jumbled together, making it challenging to tell them apart. These color services all help bring dimension and lift to your strands with varying techniques. 

Balayage has taken over the highlight craze because it offers dimension to the hair without a stark contrast at the root. It’s a low-maintenance hair coloring technique that’s easy to grow out and creates a natural, “your hair but better” result.

However, if you’ve recently visited a hair salon, you might have heard the term foilyage. A foilyage can stir up some confusion because it’s a coloring technique that lifts the hair like balayage but uses foils like traditional highlights.

What is the difference between foilyage vs balayage? Balayage is a free-hand highlighting technique left to dry openly or with clear wrap. Foilyage also incorporates a free-hand approach with more saturation and processes in foils.

It can be challenging at first to understand the main differences between these popular highlighting services. Also, how do you know which service is best for you or what to ask your hairstylist next time you’re at the salon? 

What Is Foilyage?

What is a foilyage color service? A foilyage combines the best of balayage and traditional highlights into one technique. It offers an intense contrast and is the most beneficial if you’re looking to go extremely light with your strands.

Foilyage involves hand-painting highlights on the strands but with more saturation than a balayage. It also incorporates the use of foils to achieve a higher lift because foils will generate heat and help get a lighter hue.

You can still add drama and contrast to your strands with a foilyage, but it can still look natural because you’ll have blended roots.

Foilyage Technique 

The main difference between most coloring services is simply the technique. So, what method is used for a foilyage? A foilyage will incorporate bleach/lightener/color of your choice, foils, and a hand-painted application.

Your stylist will section your hair and free-hand your highlights based on your consultation. A foilyage may incorporate more saturated strands than other highlighting services. 

Once the section of hair has been painted, it will be wrapped in foil to aid the processing time. Foils will add heat and help achieve a higher lifter than if the hair was left to process alone. 

Here’s a look at the foilyage process from Hair by Kristi Jennings on YouTube.

Pros Of Foilyage

Foilyage can provide numerous benefits and achieve a lighter tone than a balayage. This technique is great if you’re looking to obtain an intense white or cool-toned blonde. Also, it can still add dimension while leaving a natural finish at the roots.

A considerable advantage of most hand-painted highlighting sessions is that they’re low maintenance. So, for example, you won’t have to struggle with grown-out roots or a stark line of demarcation.

Offers High Lift

A foilyage can benefit those with darker hair or who want a sharp contrast. However, obtaining a high amount of lift with a Balayage can be challenging because it doesn’t have as much saturation or a heat source as a Foilyage.

A foilyage will be ideal if you have dark brown hair and want to achieve bright, cool-toned blond highlights. The foils used in a foilyage will produce heat and will ensure the beach doesn’t dry out so you can get more lift within your strands. 

This technique is also fantastic for anyone looking to create more saturation or contrast within their hair. 

Low Maintenance 

A foilyage is more low maintenance than traditional highlights. 

You’ll get a harsh line with traditional highlights when they eventually grow out, which can increase your visits to the salon. Also, the stylist will have to section the exact pieces of hair they highlighted before to achieve a clean finish. 

Foilyages don’t have to reach the roots. Instead, they can gradually blend into the roots, so your natural color is left, and you don’t have to worry about getting your regrowth touched up.

Live-In Roots 

This takes us to the next advantage of foilyage; lived-in roots. Your roots can be utterly untouched during a Foilyage, or your stylist may decide to strategically place a few hand-painted strands to flatter your facial features.

This is the plus that foilayage and balayage have in common. Also, most hand-painted highlighting techniques are meant to last longer than traditional highlights.

You may have the choice to grow out a foilyage or get it refreshed completely.

Who Should Get A Foilyage?

Who makes a great candidate for a foilayge? As we mentioned earlier, darker hair may benefit from a foilyage if they want to achieve a high lift and bright blonde hue. A foilyage is great for anyone looking to attain intense dimension or drama.

Also, it’s crucial to ensure your hair is strong enough for a foilayge. Bleach can be harsh on the strands, and it can be challenging to obtain a high lift if the strands lack integrity.

A Foilyage can saturate the strands more than a Balayage, using foils to maintain heat. So, it’s essential to know your hair can withstand this process.

What To Ask Your Hairstylist 

Do you want a foilyage but are unsure what to ask your stylist? A consultation is a crucial step in any color service. This will allow you to effectively communicate with your stylist so you can understand how to reach your desired hair goals.

Ask your stylist for hand-painted highlights, intense saturation, and wrapped in foils to get a foilyage. It’s crucial to keep in mind that each color service will be tailored to your hair and facial features. 

You can discuss with your stylist where you want to place your highlights, what level you want to reach, and how to prepare for foil highlights.

What Is Balayage? 

A balayage is also a hand-painted or free-hand highlighting technique. What makes a balayage so unique? This color service shattered the hair industry because it offered a way to achieve highlights that look natural without needing a lot of maintenance.

A balayage is both structured and unstructured. It’s unstructured because the sections of hair don’t have to be as uniform, and you want to create a grow-out, natural finish. 

However, you can still strategically place highlights to flatter your hair and face. Also, a balayage will only give your hair slight dimension and lift so that you won’t have a drastic transformation.

Balayage Technique 

You may be wondering what technique is used for a balayage. Unlike traditional highlights, a balayage takes sections of hair and only paints the surface of each section instead of painting every other parting across the head.

Also, you can hand-paint the highlights where you desire, and then it is left to process out in the open. Some stylists may choose to wrap the hair in clear wrap for better processing, but this step isn’t always necessary.

You can either opt for a full or partial balayage. A partial balayage will usually highlight only the top or crown section of the hair instead of the whole head. 

Pros Of Balayage

Balayage offers plenty of benefits for the hair. It’s a subtle highlighting service that can work for almost anyone. The main goal of a balayage is to provide minimal dimension and tone to create a sun-kissed effect within your strands.

Foilyage and balayage share some advantages, which include offering a low maintenance service and prioritizing lived-in roots. However, the intensity of the bleach or color, along with the technique, is what sets these services apart.

Lived-In Roots

Traditional highlights will leave your hair with a stark line as soon as your hair grows out. This can be a chore to retouch for you and the stylist. A balayage will allow you more flexibility when you enter the salon, thanks to its lived-in roots.

Often the roots are left untouched in most balayage services. Your stylist may choose to go higher with the bleach around your face to accentuate your best features. However, a balayage focuses most of the dimension on the midshaft and ends.

This allows you to have an easy time growing out your balayage, and your stylist doesn’t have to be as precise with touch-ups like traditional highlights.

Low Maintenance 

How often you visit a salon to touch up your balayage is between you and your stylist. Thankfully, the technique of a balayage is structured to help grow out your highlights if you choose, without any awkward stages.

The most maintenance that comes with a balayage is toning your hair between salon visits. This step is optional and more of a priority if you want cool-toned hair. However, for those wanting golden blonde strands, you can skip toning.

Extremely Natural 

Finally, balayage is one of the most natural coloring services. It’s designed to provide minimal lift and a lived-in finish. As a result, you will only notice a slight change throughout your strands and possibly around the face.

A balayage won’t offer drastic transformation but rather a slight enhancement to your strands. It’s great to bring flat hair to life or revive your natural hair color. 

Who Should Get A Balayage?

A balayage can be suitable for all hair colors, but it may look the most vivid on blonde or lighter hair colors. It’s important to remember that the goal of Balayage is to offer a slight dimension without giving away that it is a highlight service.

Darker hair colors for brown hair can still receive a balayage, but it may not look as intense. Also, you may only lift a level or two with a balayage because there is no source to attract heat, like foil, to get a lighter hue.

So, darker colors may notice their balayage highlights are a warm-toned brown shade. 

What To Ask Your Hairstylist

Thankfully, your hairstylist should understand what you want to achieve if you ask for a balayage. A consultation is crucial to the success of any hair coloring appointment. You can decide how many highlights you desire and their placement.

You can also ask for a hand-painted highlight on the surface of each section and to process them out in the air or with clear wrap. This will give you that subtle highlighted effect that creates the illusion you were born with dimension.

The Main Differences Between Foilyage And Balayage

Balayage and foilyage can create a similar highlighted effect, but their technique is what makes them different. 

Need a more thorough explanation? Take a look at this YouTube video from cosmetologist Sam Vay. Sam briefly describes the characteristics of a balayage and foilyage and why it’s essential to know both when you’re at the salon.


Balayage and foilyage have different ways of processing. For example, balayage is often left to process openly. This is because air-drying will cause the bleach to dry out quickly, and you’ll only receive one or two levels of lift for a subtle appearance.

Foilyage has a heavier application of bleach or color, and then it’s wrapped in foil to process. The foil attracts heat, keeping the bleach active for longer and helping you achieve a higher lift. 


Multiple factors contribute to the success of balayage and foilyage. One service involves applying more products than the other. Foilyage will help you create a higher lift and more drastic finish, but your strands are more saturated with product.

A balayage will use a minimal amount of bleach/color, and it’s only applied to the surface of each hair section. This will ensure you get dimension, but not every strand of hair will process.

Can You Combine Highlighting Techniques Into One Service? 

The best part about hair coloring services like foilyage or balayage is that they give creative control to your stylist. You don’t have to stick with one technique. Instead, you can combine various highlighting techniques into one service. 

For example, you may want a balayage throughout your head but more saturated pieces around your face so you can incorporate foilyage techniques. You can also combine balayage and foilyage with other highlighting services.

This is another reason why consulting with your stylist is crucial. They may create a unique look just for you by combining various highlighting techniques. 

Which Color Service Is Right For You? 

What color service will suit you the best? Balayage or foilayge?

A balayage is beneficial for those who want a subtle change and slight dimension. This service will give you the perfect lived-in look with little-to-no maintenance. Any hair color can receive a balayage, but it may look more intense for light hair colors.

A foilyage is excellent for anyone looking to create a dramatic change in their hair that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. This technique is great for darker hair that wants a high-lift blonde or various tones throughout the strands.

Consult With Your Stylist 

Always consult with your stylist to ensure you’re getting the best service for your hair. In addition, you’ll need to consider your hair’s integrity and if it’s been previously colored before another service because that can impact your balayage/foilyage. 


Foilyage and balayage are eerily similar services. They both incorporate free-hand or hand-painting techniques to create a lived-in look. In addition, they are both low maintenance and can fit a wide variety of hair types and colors.

Balayage is more subtle and creates a natural effect. Also, a balayage is often left to air-dry or process openly, achieving one or two levels of lift.

Foilyage applies more product to the strands and wraps them in foil for a higher lift. This technique is excellent for achieving drama or a lighter hue.

Related Articles

Best Balayage Home Kits

Partial Vs Full Balayage

Best Shampoos For Balayage

You may also like

Leave a Comment