Should You Get Balayage or Foil Highlights?

Find out who's a good candidate for both

Whitney Port ombre hair
Whitney Port ombre hair. Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

I've been getting my hair colored using the balayage method for more than 5 years. In fact, the salon I go to -- the Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC -- was one of the first salons in the United States to perfect the method.

Balayage is the art of painting on highlights or lowlights to hair and is becoming a popular and trendy hair coloring trend in the US. In fact, it made my list of this year's 8 Hottest Hair Color Trends.

I much prefer balayage to the more traditional foil highlights because I find balayage grows out better than the pin-sized highlights that foils give you, and it simply looks more natural. Plus, it turns out that my dishwater blonde natural hair is the perfect base for balayage blonde.

So are you a good candidate for balayage? Read on to find out...

Should You Do Foils or Balayage?

If you are looking to take your hair from dark to light, foils may be your best bet. If you are looking to add chunks of color, balayage is a better option. Balayage is great for those face-framing highlights you may have read about. It's absolutely the best method for getting the super popular ombré highlights (see photos of ombré examples).

If you hate the maintenance of getting your hair colored every 6-8 weeks, balayage may be your better bet. Foil highlights have an obvious demarcation, so the new growth is obvious.

Balayage is less obvious, so you can go longer between salon visits. It grows out beautifully. In fact, I only get my hair colored 3-4 times a year.

Who is a Good Candidate for Balayage?

You may have heard of the term, "balayage blonde," but balayage isn't just for blondes. Stylist Eva Scrivo told Allure magazine she uses the technique on brunette and redheaded clients.

Balayage is also great for coloring grays because the stylist can cover the few gray strands rather than having to color the entire head. 

Your Balayage Options

Because balayage gives the stylist freedom to paint color where she or he wants to, your stylist has many options with balayage.

My stylist gives me highlights on most my hair, just as she would if she were doing foils. But with balayage, you have other options as well. You can do sweeps of color along the face for face-framing highlights. You can get highlights throughout the hair to add dimension and to show off a haircut.

Consider Getting More Than One Color

If you study hair that's never been colored, you'll notice many different shades of color in the strands. The most natural looking highlights are those that are made up of different colors. You want variation and can get it with both foils and balayage.

You may even consider getting lowlights -- color that's about 2 shades darker than highlights. These are woven into the hair to give it dimension and depth.

More on balayage in Balayage Hair Color: What's the Difference Between Balayage and Foils?