In Our Blog

Get the Look You Want: Balayage vs. Foil

A before and after of foil highlights on a client at Mill Pond Salon

Looking for a color change but not sure what might be the best choice? There are two popular color techniques to add definition to your hair. The battle of deciding between balayage vs. foil is up for debate. But there may be some differences to help you decide which technique is best for you. 

Mill Pond Salon can give you the style you crave with the perfect highlighting and lighting technique. Our stylists can take examples of the look you desire to create a confident, assuring style you love. 

Sometimes you find a picture, and you love the look but aren’t sure how it might look on you. That is where our stylists come in! 

You have to know a little bit about hair painting techniques to understand the method used by the pros. We will tackle the best of balayage and foils to help you decide which side to join if you are on the fence. 

What Are Highlights, And How Can They Make You Bright?Foil highlights used on silver hair at Mill Pond Salon.

Traditional highlights make your hair lighter than the base color. Stylists can do hair highlights on all shades of hair, not just blondes. If you are looking to take your color up a notch, then consider some highlights. 

Stylists can use both balayage and foils to create dimension in the hair. Both are beneficial for lighting up your current color. So balayage vs. foil, which should you go for at your next visit? 

It depends on whether you are trying to go for a more intense look or more natural. Hair foils give a defined, controlled look, while balayage will look more natural and painted. Both are great, but one may be more “you” than the other. 

What Are The Benefits Of Hair Foils?

An after picture of a client who got a foil blonding service.Traditional hair foils involve sectioning off the hair and then applying the product strategically. Once the product is applied, the stylist will bend the hair into foils for processing. Stylists use foils for both highlights and lowlights. 

Have you ever wondered why stylists choose to use aluminum foil? The reason is it conducts heat. The result is deep, bold color as the product can sink deep into the hair follicle. 

Traditional foil highlights also offer more control for the stylist. The foils keep hair maintained, so the color does not blend into surrounding hairs. The stylist will usually place the foils close to the scalp, so hair is lightened root to tip. 

Highlighting results in more rigid lines of demarcation than balayage, but some stylists have found a way around that. The right color and technique can help blend the foil lines, so the roots remain bright. 

Foils can be both thick or thin, depending on your preference. Find a look you want online or discuss with your stylist if one or the other is better for you. 

Sometimes a consultation is what you need. The stylist can truly explain why one may add a better definition for you versus the other. 

There is also the factor of time when choosing balayage vs. foil. Foiling is generally a more prolonged process, so try to set aside the time when making your appointment. Also, plan for more salon visits because foils usually need to be reapplied every 6-8 weeks. 

What Are The Benefits Of Balayage?

A client who had a balayage service at Mill Pond Salon.
Stylists use balayage to create a more natural look. The French word balayage means “to sweep.” Stylists use a freehand technique to paint the color onto the hair. The result is usually a beautiful sun-kissed color that blends naturally into the base color. 

The stylist doesn’t use foils for the balayage coloring process. Balayage sometimes begins close to the root, and other times stylists start the painting technique midway down. It all depends on your preference! 

Usually, the color is processed as the stylist continues to color the rest of the hair. Often stylists use plastic over pieces to separate them, but foils are not typically used with the balayage technique. 

What is the result of balayage? A soft, natural color that blends into the base color with ease. Many clients like it because it grows out naturally. You only need a touch up about every 3-6 months. 

Then There Is Foilyage

Balayage vs. Foils and foilyage
This photo demonstrates a side-by-side comparison: Foil highlights on the left, foilyage in the middle, and balayage on the right.

Foilyage is a blend between highlights and balayage. The hairstylist will paint the color onto the hair like they do when they use a balayage technique. Then the stylist places the colored sections in foils, just like with highlighting. 

And the result is a beautifully painted color with a bit of the intensity of what you get with foils. It can be a good option for women with fine or thin hair that is prone to breakage. You can get the color without the damage. 

If you are ready for a new look, talk with your stylist to find the best option.  

Balayage vs. Foil: A Little Comparison Chart

Here is a quick summary of balayage vs. foils:


  • Traditional highlighting method
  • Uses foils to create a defined look
  • Hair lightened root to tip
  • More frequent upkeep
  • Intense color


  • Natural highlighting method
  • Naturally painted color
  • No foil used
  • Plastic sometimes used
  • The stylist can add color at the root or mid-length
  • More naturally blended lines
  • Less upkeep

Remember, there is no right or wrong color option! The choice is yours, and the great thing is you can change it up next time! 

Ready To Book Your Next Foil Or Balayage? 

A client after a blonding service from Mill Pond Salon
If you are ready to treat yourself, then book an appointment at Mill Pond Salon. Our stylists in New London, Minnesota are happy to consult with you and determine what it is the best option! 

If you still aren’t sure if you should choose foils or balayage, we can talk over the options. By looking at your hair, we can get a better idea of the choice that may give you the best definition.

Leave a Reply

1 comment

  1. Thank you so so much for sharing all this information on highlights. I live in WV & can’t come to your salon but this info help me make a decision on Balayage. Thanks Again! 😊

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Deserve Innovative Solutions with 5 Star Treatment

Big City Experience. Small Town Service.

Explore our feed