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Partial Balayage vs Full Balayage: Which One to Get?

You might have heard the word “Balayage” thrown around frequently in the hair world. Both partial balayage and full balayage hair treatments are popular hair trends that many people choose for their hair.

The word balayage is a French word that means to paint or to sweep. In the hairstyling world, this means doing balayage highlights that are hand-painted or swept along the surface of the hair.

This style of coloring allows your hairstylist to create a customized balayage experience to compliment your hair type and precisely fit your features and face.

It’s an easy way to lighten your hair or add a burst of color without overpowering your natural color. It’s fresh, fun, and unique to each person.

I’ve personally been getting both partial balayage and full balayage hair treatments for years, ever since my stylist recommend I try it out instead of traditional highlights. I typically go for a blonde balayage during the summer months and add some caramel highlights in the fall.

woman with long bob

I love how natural it looks when it grows out and the natural-looking effect of it when it’s first applied!

This is a great option for all hair types – long hair or short hair, dark hair or light hair, straight hair or curly hair.

You’ll never have the same balayage as someone else because it’s completely hand-painted according to your coloring needs. Customers choose this hair trend because of the natural and effortless look it provides.

partial balayage vs full balayage

What is a Partial Balayage?

The idea behind a partial balayage is that you’re focusing on a specific part of your hair, either the top or front layers, to lighten your hair through the color applied to those layers.

To apply partial balayage highlights to your hair, your hairstylist will use a hand-painted technique where they look for specific pieces of your hair to add highlights instead of following a typical pattern.

wavy hair with pearl headband

The partial balayage’s appeal is that it adds subtle color to your natural hair color to provide a very natural and sun-kissed result. A partial balayage allows you to have very low hair maintenance because it will last for 12-14 weeks, which is longer than most hair coloring procedures.

What is a Full Balayage?

A full balayage, like the partial, is also applied freehand but will give you a more dramatic look since the color is applied throughout your entire head instead of just specific sections.

You’ll still have your dark natural base show through but you’ll have more colored hair than natural.

What’s the Difference Between a Full Balayage vs Partial Balayage?

The balayage technique is the same for both but there are a few differences.

More Change in a Full Balayage

The main difference between the two techniques is how much of a color change you will see throughout your hair. A full balayage is applied to the majority of your hair, including all layers.

In contrast, a partial balayage only focuses on one specific area, such as your top layer of hair or the front layers. A partial balayage will add little accents of color or brightness, while a full balayage will create a more noticeable lift.  

A Full Balayage Takes Longer

The partial technique takes less time because it’s applied to just specific areas of your hair rather than coloring ever single piece like a traditional balayage.

The partial balayage technique is an excellent choice if you’re looking to try out a new color or want a more natural-looking hair color. The partial will take about 45 minutes compared to the full treatment which can take up to 2-3 hours.

Partial Balayage is Less Damaging

If your hair is damaged from either too much heat or years of coloring, a partial balayage will do less damage to your hair since less hair is being colored.

Full Balayage Requires More Upkeep

While both optoins grow out well, the full balayage will require more upkeep to keep regrowth in check.

Full Balayage is More Expensive

A full balayage requires a lot more time and product which will result in a higher cost. While the final cost varies based on how much experience and education your hairstylist has, your hair length, the type of hair you have and more, the average cost of a full balayage is $193 while an average cost of a partial is $154.

Partial Balayage vs Partial Highlights – What’s the Difference

Partial highlights are similar to a partial balayage because it’s not applied to your entire head of hair. It’s only applied to specific sections of the hair. However, both have very different visual results.

A partial balayage is painted through your hair, so it’s more personalized and will give you a more natural look. They typically don’t go all the way to your roots so you’ll have dark roots with a balayage. Think of this as a sun-kissed effect.

Highlights tend to go from the root down to the tip, so it’s more evident that you’ve added hair color to your hair.

long mermaid hair in half up braid

Should You Get a Partial Balayage or Full Balayage?

Anyone can get either partial or balayage. Both looks great on most hair types. However, certain groups of people might want to choose a partial type of hair coloring over another treatment.

You should consider a partial balayage if:

  • You’ve never dyed your hair before. A partial balayage is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of color without going overboard.
  • You frequently dye your hair to the point it’s damaged and want to regrow or allow your hair to become softer. A partial balayage is a less damaging procedure compared to other treatments.
  • You want to try out a new color without having to commit to a complete transformation. Not only will it give you a preview of a new color, but if you don’t like it, you can allow it to grow out.

You should consider a full balayage if:

  • You want a more dramatic look since more of your hair is colored. It’s the perfect way to make a big impact with a new hair color.
  • You’re willing to spend more money and more time in a salon. A full balayage will cost more and take longer to complete than a partial.
  • You want less of your natural hair color to show. A full balayage will cover up more of natural color.

How to Care for a Partial or Full Balayage

If you’re committed to getting a balayage, it’s essential that you do everything you can to protect your investment. Having a hair treatment isn’t cheap, so follow these tips to ensure that you’re maintaining your partial balayage as best as you can.

1. Find the Right Stylist

You first need to find the right hairstylist to create your new partial balayage look. Choosing a stylist can make or break what your hair will look like, mainly because it’s painted on your hair. You want to find a hairstylist that has experience with the balayage technique.

To find a great stylist, you can search for a stylist on Google, Facebook, or Instagram. Find examples of their portfolio and read reviews to check if you like how they style other people’s hair. If they have no reviews or don’t offer balayage as one of their primary services, seek an alternative hairstylist.

Asking friends for recommendations is also a great way to find a hairstylist. Once you find a person you like, ask if you can schedule a consultation so you can ensure that you’re both on the same page about your hair goals and prices.

I personally see Jenna Markson at Cajah Salon.

2. Schedule Your Follow Up Appointment

Your treatment will last between 12-14 weeks, which is a lot longer than most coloring treatments you can do to your hair. It’s essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with your hairstylist to continue maintaining your beautiful hair color.

3. Use Minimum Heat on Your Hair

Coloring your hair, in general, weakens your hair. It’s essential to protect your hair by limiting its exposure to certain elements, like heat.

If you can, avoid using a hairdryer, flat iron, or curler in your hair. If you need styling products, invest in tools that can quickly style your hair to reduce the amount of heat used on your hair.

And always use a heat protectant like Olaplex No. 7 when you do use heat! That will help give it a protective layer.

Olaplex Nº.7 Bonding Oil

4. Invest in a Proper Brush

You want to use a brush that doesn’t allow breakage or will tug at your hair. Plus, using a proper brush will decrease the pain that can be associated with brushing out your hair.

Look for a detangling or wet brush to use on your hair. You can find these products at any local drug store or retailer.

5. Buy a Silk Pillowcase

Ditch the regular cotton pillowcases! To protect your balayage, invest in a silk pillowcase. A silk pillowcase will help reduce hair tangle and pull on your hair that contributes to unhealthy hair.

There are so many varieties to choose from, just make sure that the brand you choose is 100% silk. An inexpensive option is linked above, with dozens of colors to choose from to fit your bedroom decor.

Try Out a Partial Balayage

Getting a partial balayage is a very trendy hair treatment. It has a low investment cost if you want to try a new color without totally committing or if you want to let your hair look a little more natural.

The best part of testing this procedure is that if you don’t like it, simply allow it to grow out and try something different!

And if you’re looking for the difference between ombre and balayage, keep reading here!

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