What's the Difference Between Partial and Full Highlights?

Young woman having her hair highlighted at the salon
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There you are, ready to schedule a highlight appointment with your favorite colorist. You're either online or on the phone and the choice is presented: partial highlight or full highlight? What a Balayage highlight?

What does that actually mean, anyway? All you know is you want highlights that will make Jennifer Aniston jealous; the technicalities should be left to the experts, right?

You're right, a good hair stylist will not only guide your decision with her expertise, but she'll also help you understand the difference, and help you choose a service that will fit your budget.

Maybe you don't have a good hair stylist (yet) or maybe you just want to know which service to choose without asking questions or feeling stupid. 

What is a Partial Highlight Service?

A partial highlight is literally a highlight service that applies highlights to only part of your head. Highlights are placed, typically, in only the mohawk section of your head, although some stylists consider a partial highlight to be the top ​half, or the top and side sections of your head. It's really up to the stylist's discretion based on the look you're going for if a partial highlight is the service you're looking for.

Partial highlights can be very natural looking and are designed to lighten the hair in a similar manner to the way the sun would lighten your hair, although a partial highlight service can be dramatic and bold as well by only placing a few, heavy highlights in one specific area of your hair.

Partial highlights are typically less expensive than a full highlight service.

What is a Full Highlight Service?

A full highlight involves highlighting hair in every section of your head from the nape of your neck to the hairline in your fringe and everywhere in between.

Full highlights can be very heavy in nature allowing for a natural brunette to become a beach blonde, or they can be very designed to only slightly lighten all of your hair.

Many women that love the look of a full highlight will opt to alternate between full and partial highlight appointments to save money, as the highlights placed in the back of the head don't show the same growth as the highlights on the top of the head.

What to do When You're Confused

When you're trying to pick which service is right for you, don't worry if you don't get it just right. When in doubt, shoot your hair stylist a message or a phone call to clarify any questions you have and for a little guidance. Final highlighting decisions don't have to be made when scheduling your appointment. Most stylist are perfectly open to a full consultation with room to make adjustments on the day of your appointment.

Always remember that picture speaks a thousand words. Showing your stylist ideas of highlights that you like will help her determine if a full or partial highlight is better for your final results.