Home Beautygab Partial Vs Full Balayage

Partial Vs Full Balayage

by Gabbi

While some people love to color their hair a shade that makes a statement, others may want a more natural finish. A balayage is a hair coloring technique that allows you to switch up your look, but it’s a low-maintenance service that’s easy to grow out.

Balayage initially gained traction a few years ago, and it’s a coloring technique that is here to stay. In addition, a balayage is a low-maintenance version of highlights that gives you depth and dimension to your hair without a stark contrast.

Like highlights, you can opt for a full balayage service or a partial balayage service.

A balayage isn’t one-size-fits-all, and you can customize this service to fit your needs and desires. You can strategically transform all of your hair or add dimension.

However, what is the difference between a partial and full balayage? A full balayage will use this coloring technique all over your hair to add dimension – a partial balayage only colors certain areas of the hair, like the crown or face-framing pieces.

Both services will create a natural, lived-in hair look ideal for those who want a low-maintenance color service. However, what should you know before you sit in the salon chair? And how can you decide between a partial or full balayage service?

What Is A Balayage?

Full Balayage

A balayage is a low-maintenance coloring service that highlights your hair and achieves a natural look.

In addition, a balayage is a free-hand color technique that uses bleach or color to highlight your hair for a lived-in finish.

Because this is a free-hand painting technique, it can be easier to achieve a blended and grown-out look as opposed to a regular highlighting service.

The goal of a balayage is to add a sweep of color throughout your hair. It doesn’t have a line of demarcation and adds dimension to your strands.

The Balayage Application Process 

Partial Balayage

A balayage can be done with color or bleach, depending on how intense you want your results.

However, bleach is the most common product to use. A balayage will help you achieve a lighter and blended look as if the sun naturally gave you highlights.

Depending on your desired intensity, the balayage technique can be applied all over the hair or partially.

In general, a stylist will apply bleach to the hair’s ends and mid-shaft, and the root is usually left untouched to achieve that grown-out look.

The free-hand painting technique is crucial to nail because a balayage shouldn’t have a line of demarcation at your roots. However, freehanding also creates a more natural finish since it lacks structure. 

Benefits Of A Balayage 

A balayage is ideal for people who want highlights in their hair without rigorous maintenance. As mentioned earlier, a balayage is meant to look grown out and lived in, making this color service easy to get rid of or keep. 

A balayage color service is low commitment. So if you don’t end up loving your balayage, it will be easier to eliminate, but it’s also easy to upkeep if you love your results. 

In addition, this color service is meant to grow out seamlessly, and you can choose when you need a refresh at a salon. 

Meanwhile, regular highlights are more intense. You’ll need to follow a stricter timeline to get them touched up; otherwise, you’ll see the roots.  

Cons Of A Balayage 

Like most bleaching services, a balayage will be challenging for dark hair colors or hair that doesn’t lift well. 

For example, darker hair colors tend to pull orange, brassy, or yellow when you lighten them with bleach, and it can be challenging to keep a cool tone.

Hair that doesn’t lift well or dark hair colors will have a hard time maintaining cool blonde highlights and can quickly turn brassy. However, these hair types can still achieve balance.

For example, if you have level 3 hair, you can get level 5 highlights with a balayage technique that will be much easier to maintain. With the right stylist, you’ll be able to adapt a balayage to fit your hair, so it can still be a low-maintenance service.

Balayage Vs Highlights Vs Ombre 

A balayage shares similarities with traditional highlights and ombre hair.

For example, a balayage will highlight your hair, and you can opt for a full or partial-service like a conventional highlight. However, a balayage isn’t applied fully at the roots.

A balayage is blended out at the roots like an ombre. For example, some strands may have bleach applied higher up on the head than others to create that seamless blend and grown-out root finish. 

However, an ombre applies bleach gradually from ends to tips, and the majority of your hair is bleached, especially at the bottom. A balayage will skip sections of hair entirely like highlights to create an effortless blend of bleach and natural color. 

Full Vs Partial Balayage 

So, what are the differences between a full balayage and a partial balayage? Well, they will both use the same application technique, just in varying amounts and placements. So, are you ready to find out which balayage service is right for you?

Full Balayage

As mentioned earlier, a full balayage incorporates this free-hand technique throughout the hair. This is ideal for people who want a sun-kissed finish all over their hair. The roots are left untouched unless strategically placed by a stylist.


A full balayage will add highlights all around your hair. However, it’s still a highlighting technique that will skip sections of hair during the application process. This will create that seamless blend between highlights and your natural color. 

However, you can still choose to add heavier highlights towards the end of your hair while still keeping an effortless blend to your roots. Regardless the placement of a full balayage will give you even depth and dimension throughout your strands. 


The cost of a full balayage will depend on a few factors. 

For example, how long/thick is your hair? Will you be using color or bleach to lighten? How much effort do you put into your hair at home? These are crucial factors that can affect the cost of this service.

However, a full balayage will be more expensive than a partial balayage. This is because you will be using more product and time to achieve your desired results. The more product and time a balayage takes, the more the service will cost.

Thankfully, a balayage doesn’t need to be touched up as often as traditional highlights so it can save money down the road.


Thankfully, a balayage is generally low maintenance. It’s a coloring technique that is supposed to look lived in. So, it will be easy to grow out or even prolong your next visit to the salon because your hair won’t have a stark line of demarcation.

On average, a balayage can last 3-4 months. Most color services, including highlights, will last on average for about eight weeks. However, that will also depend on how fast your hair grows, how easily it holds onto blonde, and more. 


When highlighting the hair with bleach, chances are you will need to tone your strands during your service. Toning will eliminate any brassy, orange, and yellow tones, so your balayage is crisp and cool. 

However, you’ll most likely need to tone your hair frequently at home, especially if your hair turns brassy quickly. This will add an extra step to your hair routine, meaning a little work will be needed to maintain your balayage. 


If you plan to get a full balayage, plan to sit a few hours in the salon chair. Of course, time will vary depending on your hair type, thickness, and length. 

However, most people will need a tone, which is an added step and not always included in the cost of a balayage. On average, a full balayage can take 3-5 hours to complete. 


Most people fail to consider the styling when going in for a balayage. How do you usually style your hair? Answering this question will help your stylist know precisely where to place your highlights so you can get seamless results.

Most balayage photos are of curly hair or beachy waves. So, if your hair is straight or you style it straight daily, chances are it won’t look exactly like your reference picture. This is why it’s crucial to keep styling in mind when doing a full balayage. 

Partial Balayage

A partial balayage will use the same application technique as a full balayage, except it will only apply highlights strategically to the hair. In addition, a partial balayage is the same as a full balayage, but it uses less product, placements, costs less, and more.


The most popular places to balayage are the top part of the hair or your face-framing strands. However, when it comes to a partial balayage, the placement is more strategic because you only highlight certain areas rather than your full head of hair.


The cost of a partial balayage will be less than a full balayage. A partial balayage uses less product and time, making it more affordable than a full balayage. However, you still reap all the benefits the balayage technique has to offer.


A partial balayage is also a low-maintenance color service. However, because there are fewer highlights, it can fade or become duller over time. But you will still have that grown-out look that is easy to live with, get rid of, or touch up.


Depending on how well your hair takes to bleach, you will have to tone your strands. This step might be necessary at home if you want to keep cool-toned highlights. However, you will need less toner for a partial than a full balayage.


A partial balayage usually takes less time to complete than a full balayage. This is because you’ll only be highlighting one part of the hair, using less product, and ultimately spend less time in the chair. 

However, your hair’s characteristics can also impact how long a color service can take. 


How you style your hair is important to consider when doing a partial balayage. For example, where do you want your highlights to fall if you choose to do a partial balayage on your face-framing sections?

Also, do you have bangs or layers? Do you have curly or straight hair? These questions are crucial to answer so your stylist can strategically place the balayage to fit your cut and hair’s characteristics.

Should You Get A Full Or Partial Balayage? 

A full balayage is ideal for anyone looking to lighten their hair all over without changing the hair drastically. In addition, a full balayage is fantastic to achieve a natural sun-kissed look. It will also add dimension and movement to your hair.

A partial balayage is excellent if you want to highlight specific areas of your hair. It’s great to create the illusion that you’ve colored your hair entirely, but you’ve only done so to particular sections of your hair.

A partial is more strategically placed to help bring out your best features or frame your face. 

Overall, both balayage services are low commitment, generally low maintenance, and create a natural finish for your hair. Both are great for adding extra spice to your strands without changing them drastically.

What To Do Before Your Balayage Service

Once you’ve decided on a partial or full balayage, here are some other tips to consider before sitting in the salon chair. For example, consulting with your hairstylist to assess your hair and lifestyle will ensure you get the balayage of your dreams!

Consult A Hairstylist 

Having a consultation with a licensed, experienced, and trusted stylist will ensure you get the best results. In addition, you’ll want to communicate your needs and desires so your stylist can help bring your balayage vision to life. 

This is also when you can perform a test strand to ensure everything will work accordingly. For example, leftover color, darker shades, or damaged hair can pull brassy, or the hair won’t be strong enough to handle bleach.

A test strand will ensure no mishaps or surprises happen during your balayage service. In addition, a stylist will be able to find the right shade of highlights for you that requires minimal maintenance at home and will fade/grow out with ease. 

Assess Your Hair 

You’ll want to consider the current state of your hair. For example, if it has leftover color, if it’s full of layers, or looking at its texture can affect how a balayage will turn out. Your hair type, texture, density, and color can impact your color service.

In addition, think about how you style your hair.

As mentioned earlier, if all your reference photos feature beachy waves or curls and your hair is straight, you may not get the exact result unless you curl your hair daily. This is just one example of how styling is significant.

Think About Your Lifestyle 

Do you have time to style your hair? Do you want to put in the effort to tone your hair at home if need be? A balayage is one of the easiest color services to maintain, but you might need to take care of it at home every once in a while.

Most people don’t think about how your lifestyle affects your hair routine. For example, don’t opt for cool-toned platinum highlights if you don’t want to add an extra toning step to your hair wash routine.

Styling your hair as you usually do will ensure you get your best results.

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