One of the main questions we get at the salon is what lightening service would be best for me? Because there are so many to chose from, we completely understand how confusing it can be. To make it easier, we gathered some information to break the services down to help you decide which one would suit you the best, based off of your desired end results.

Traditional Highlights

Traditional highlights use a foiling technique in which strands of hair are lightened from root to the ends in a specific sectioning pattern leaving some natural hair in between each foil. 



Balayage is also a lightening technique that involves freehand painting and most of the time, no foils. It creates a multi-tonal and multi-dimensional look. This is achieved because lighter pieces are blended throughout starting very fine throughout the base of the hair and gradually getting thicker towards the ends. 


Lowlights use a similar technique as highlights but with a darker color weaved through select strands to bring dimension back into the hair. Lowlights are typically used if a client has been getting highlights for a while and has lost depth to the hair color. Lowlights are never produced with a lift or lightening process. 


Babylights are essentially mini-highlights. They are weaved super thin and smaller gaps are left between foils to create a more natural blend with the base color. They do not necessarily create dramatic dimension but more of a subtle sun-kissed look.


Ombre is a transition of color from your natural or color treated hair to a lighter color on the ends, accomplished by utilizing a backcombing technique.

Difference between highlights/balayage?

left: foiled highlights / right: balayage highlights

The difference between highlights and balayage is that highlights almost always use foils whereas balayage is more of a visual hand-painted technique. Balayage will always give a more subtle result than traditional highlights. 

Partial highlight vs Full highlight?

left: partial highlight / right: full highlight

Partial is just half of the head being lightened (typically placed around the face for a brightening effect) whereas a full highlight involves highlighting every section of your hair. 

What is a shadow root?

A shadow root is a color that is usually a shade lighter than your natural color, blending where your highlights meet your natural hair allowing for a softer grow out. 

What is a toner?

A toner is a color used to enhance or neutralize warm tones that are seen within the hair. This is mainly used after highlighting hair, a toner does NOT make your hair lighter. 

Which one is better for my desired end result?

If you are looking for subtle highlights to break up your hair, balayage is the way to go. It will create a more blended result, but deeper natural hair colors will often produce red undertones. Foiled highlights can remove the red and orange zones much more effectively than balayage will and your stylist will have more control over the tone of your hair when it comes to foiled highlights. 

Does one technique cause more damage than the other?

Although they can both damage the hair, in the long term, balayage is more damaging because you have to use a higher developer and layer the lightener more in order to achieve the desired result. 

Maintenance routine for each one?  

Traditional highlights need to be brought up roughly every 6-8 weeks as the grow out can be really obvious, balayage is different on a client to client basis but around 3-6 months is pretty normal. With that being said, we do recommend coming in at least every 8 weeks to get a toner as brassy tones will begin to peak through. 

If you are still unsure, head over to our services page and set up a color consultation with one of our stylists to discuss the best options for your hair! During this consultation, you can bring in any inspiration photos that you may have and your stylist will have the opportunity to assess your hair in person and recommend the service that will fulfill your hair goals and keep the integrity of your hair as well. Your stylist will also provide you with the pricing, maintenance, and duration of your color appointment that way the two of you are on the same page come to day of your service appointment.