The Art of Blonding: Balayage and Foiling Techniques Explained

Blonde hair has always been a popular hair colour choice, and with so many different blonde shades to choose from, it's no wonder that the art of blonding has become a highly skilled profession. Whether you're after a sun-kissed look, a beachy blonde, or a cool ash tone, there's a blonde hair colour that's perfect for you.

But with so many different blonding techniques available, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. So, let's take a closer look at two of the most popular blonding techniques – balayage and foiling.

Balayage is a painting technique originating in France. When hair stylists observed how the sun lightened hair in a very natural and beautiful way, they looked to reproduce this effect in the salon. Due to its beauty and versatility Balayage has become the number one choice for French women.

French women are known for embracing their natural hair and celebrating its beauty, rather than conforming to artificial beauty standards. When it comes to hair colouring, they tend to prefer a freestyle approach, rather than a full head of highlights distributed uniformly through the hair. French women opt for a darker shadow at the roots with a lighter colour towards the ends. This achieves a more dimensional, diffused, and non-defined look that blends and melts towards the edges.

It is different from traditional highlights as it is hand painted onto the hair instead of being applied within foils. This technique results in softer and less noticeable regrowth lines as the transition between dark and light colours is more gradual and natural-looking. This is what is commonly described as a lived-in look.

Balayage is entirely customisable to suit each person's unique needs. Since it's hand-painted, great balayage hair stylists need to adapt and become more like hair artists. Creativity and an artistic eye are required to successfully blend the placement of light and depth to complement your skin tone, hair texture, and features. With balayage, you can achieve the perfect look that suits you, making it an ideal choice for all hair types and lengths  For examples of how versatile balayage is, please see images of our work on Instagram.

It is great for your hair health as it is predominantly performed without resorting to foils, and so avoids the heat damage and related breakage that often occurs during foiling services. 

Balayage has become an extremely popular hair colouring technique due to its low maintenance compared to foiling. Because it grows out seamlessly it can last between 3 to 4 months between balayage appointments, saving both money and time. 

Beware not all Balayage is authentic Balayage. Authentic Balayage is always done without the use of foils! A Balayage done in foils is an adapted version called a foilayage. Emily Chen explains this very well to the largest community in the world for salon professionals called


Foiling or highlighting, on the other hand, is a traditional technique where small sections of hair are wrapped in foil while being coloured. The foil helps to separate the hair being coloured from the hair not being coloured. The colour is applied evenly along the hair strand from the roots to the tips. The end result is a defined, high-contrast, uniform look. 

Foiling is often used for more dramatic hair colour changes, such as going from dark to light as the heat generated in the foil permits the hair to lighten to a higher degree. Great caution is needed while performing foiling services as over-processing during foiling damages your hair's health and integrity. The shaft of your hair isn't living, so there are no cells that can renew themselves. Damage to your hair can therefore only be managed while waiting for new hair to grow.

To be great at foiling you have to have the confidence and artistic ability to break your techniques. Linda Cantello a makeup artist for Giorgio Armani said "Don’t be too technical! because, in terms of highlights, if you do them every one centimetre you’re going to lose the contrast. You have to break your techniques. It’s like with music. You have to have a good basis, like in jazz, to be able to do crazy things.”

Foiling also requires more maintenance as the contrast between natural hair and lightened hair is far greater on regrowth, so frequent touch-ups are needed to maintain the hair's uniform appearance. 

Demarcation line during regrowth.

When colouring hair using foils, a noticeable contrast will appear between the newly applied hair colour and the natural colour of the hair, resulting in a demarcation line. As the hair grows, the roots' natural colour becomes more visible, and the line between the coloured and natural hair becomes more noticeable. To help minimise this, you can opt for a hair colour that matches the natural hair colour's tone and level to avoid making the demarcation line more apparent. Opting for a colour that is significantly different from the natural hair colour can make the line more distinct.

Both balayage and foiling are techniques that are mainly associated with going lighter but can also be used for many other colours: caramels, chocolates and coppers etc.

When it comes to choosing between balayage and foiling, both techniques offer unique benefits. Balayage gives a softer, more natural look, while foil highlights provide a more controlled and dramatic effect. To make the best decision for your hair, consider your natural hair color, desired level of maintenance, and personal style. And remember, consulting with a professional colorist is always a great idea. They can help you assess your hair and provide expert guidance on which technique will work best for you. So, take your time and weigh your options carefully, and you'll be sure to achieve the perfect look you're after!

At our salon located near New Farm and Newstead in Brisbane, I love to advise clients during our consultation on which technique is best suited to their lifestyle and desired look. Click here for a free consultation or call us on 0733581214

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206 Arthur Street
Teneriffe, Brisbane Qld 4005 
Phone: 07 3358 1214


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