Groupon GUIDE

Balayage or Ombre? Partial Highlights or Full Highlights?

BY: EDITORIAL TEAM | 8.9.2016 |

At most salons, a skilled stylist doesn't need a pair of scissors to transform a hairdo—expertly applied color is a makeover in itself, whether you're getting ombre highlights or hand-painted balayage strands. But just what is the difference between these two trendy color services? And how do they differ from traditional highlights? Read on to learn what makes each of these treatments unique and whether they're right for you.

Ombre Highlights

What is ombre hair color?

Ombre is a type of hair-coloring that features gradient shadings that imbue hair with an edgy aesthetic, and which take its name from the French for "shadow" or "shade." Unlike the natural aesthetic of bayalage (see below), ombre highlights transition more dramatically from dark roots to lighter tips.

Is ombre hair right for me?

Though the ombre style is suited to complexions of all shades, only careful consultation with a professional stylist can determine which colors will flatter your look. For example, those with darker skin can shoot for deep reds and coppers, while fairer tones can experiment with blondes and caramel colors. Daredevils of all skin types can turn to unnatural hues such as pink and blue for an even more dramatic effect.

Be forewarned that although the ombre look is similar to that of grown-out highlights, previously color-treated hair will often need at least some color correction to achieve the desired effect. Similarly, complex color combinations can require more frequent touch-ups to maintain this seemingly low-maintenance look. Color-treated shampoos and conditioners can help you get the most mileage out of ombre tresses, as can regular coats of gloss.

How much do ombre highlights cost?

Depending on your hair colorist's experience level and the look you're going for, you can expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $200 for ombre highlights. Be sure to check Groupon for great deals on ombre hair color.


What is balayage?

Balayage is a type of hair-coloring process in which a stylist hand-paints the highlights so that they look even more natural, with depth and dimension that resemble the effects of the sun. Balayage means "sweeping" in French, and is a reference to both the sweeping motions of the painting process and the small brooms used by Parisian stylists. When painting, stylists start at the middle of the strand and sweep out toward the root or tip. As a result, there is no severe line of color at the root and the grow-out is more natural looking, which translates into longer-lasting results.

Is balayage right for me?

If you want stunning hair color without laborious upkeep, balayage may be right for you since stylists usually recommend a touch up only every two to four months (as opposed to every six weeks for foil highlights). Often used on flowing hairstyles with loose curls or beachy waves, balayage highlights can be low-maintenance, and stylists say they tend to look most organic on hair longer than shoulder-length.

The technique can add dimension to all hair colors. It's even ideal for unwanted gray: stylists can target gray strands more precisely, avoiding single-process color and its attendant stress on the scalp and on non-gray hairs.

How much does balayage cost?

Because it's so time-consuming to complete, balayage tends to be one of the priciest forms of hair coloring. Expect to pay about $200 on average, or less with a Groupon deal for balayage.

Full Highlights or Partial Highlights

What are highlights?

Highlights is a type of hair-coloring process in which a stylist isolates select strands of hair and treats them with a color, lightener, or toner. Its precise application can become the basis for a brand new look without a single snip or shear.

Applied evenly throughout the entire head, full highlights create a natural look that mimics the way hair changes color over time in the sun, adding a sense of dimension and texture to the existing hair. Partial highlights, which are typically cheaper and take less time to apply, serve an altogether different purpose: drawing attention to specific features, such as bangs. Both full and partial highlights typically rely on caps or foil for their application.

Are highlights right for me?

If you're looking for a more traditional look, highlights may be a better option than either balayage or ombre hair color. Partial highlights offer the most subtle look; however, if you tend to put your hair up a lot, keep in mind that because partial highlights are used sparingly, they may not be very noticeable when swept away from your face.

How much do highlights cost?

As with all the items on this list, cost for highlights will vary drastically from salon to salon. On average, you can expect to pay about $75 for partial highlights and closer to $100 for full highlights. As always, don't forget to check Groupon for great deals on highlights before booking your service.

Get inspired before your next salon trip to the salon:

If you've already bought a Groupon for a hair salon near you, take a peek before you go at our guides below.

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Editorial Team
BY: Editorial Team Editorial Team