WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGHLIGHTS AND BALAYAGE?
Highlights is a general term that simply refers to hair that is lighter than the base color. Contrary to popular belief, highlights are not just for blondes, but can refer to lightening strands of any shade of hair. Highlights are traditionally applied using a method called “foiling,” in which sheets of foil are used to separate strands of hair that have been covered with a color or lightener before wrapping them in the foil to process. The foil keeps the lightener from getting on the surrounding hair, and also traps heat, allowing the lightener to lift more effectively. Foil highlights are generally placed close to the scalp, lightening the hair from the roots to the ends for an all-over highlighted look.
Balayage is a free-hand technique of applying highlights and does not usually use foil to separate the hair. Balayage creates soft and natural gradation of lightness along the hair strand—usually slightly deeper closer to the scalp and lighter towards the ends. Typically, balayage starts away from the roots and is focused towards the mid-shafts and ends of hair. For its effects to be longer lasting i.e. a subject whom prefers low maintenance, start the technique below the parietal of the head, to avoid direct light reflection.
OMBRÉ, SOMBRÉ, BABYLIGHTS AND BALAYAGE
Balayage often carries the brunt of being an umbrella term. While other forms of highlighting might be related to balayage, not all fit neatly in this category.
Ombré (French for shadow, shade, flicker) and Sombré (French for dark, darkened, dim) speak more to the end-result rather than the technique. Ombré is a more drastic, edgier version of balayage with a starker transition of dark to light, sometimes with a harder line where the transition starts. Sombré, on the other hand, is a soft, sun-kissed transition of dark to light with the ends being only 1-2 levels lighter than the base color, and a seamless transition from roots to ends.
Baby-lights are also a type of highlight. The result is achieved by taking extremely small, thin sections of hair for subtle, sun-kissed highlights.