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Partial Balayage vs Full Balayage: What’s The Difference?

Partial Balayage vs Full Balayage: What’s The Difference?

Up for a new look and new hairstyle? The trendy balayage technique may have sparked your interest as it became a popular trend in the hairstyling industry nowadays.

But as you might get confused with partial and full techniques, here’s a guide that can help you get to know more about what balayage style suits you best. By just looking at the names, you can get the gist of the difference between partial and full balayage.

In partial balayage, only a portion of your hair gets highlighted, such as the top or front layer. On the other hand, full balayage is a more radical change in your hair as it is applied with colors throughout the lengths.

Let’s learn more about these two hairstyles.

Also Read: How Long Do Highlights Last?

Full Balayage vs Partial Balayage: What’s The Difference?

Different hair trends are being invented and you can get easily confused by their characteristics if you’re new to the hairstyling industry.

So here’s a simple comparison that can help you to distinguish some technique and style that makes full balayage and partial balayage different from each other.

Full Balayage Partial Balayage
An extreme change in your hair color A subtle change in your hair color
Only 5-7 cm of the roots are left unbleached, while the rest of the lengths is entirely lightened Usually just lightens or fades some portions of the hair (upper layer with focus at the tips)
More expensive as it requires regular maintenance for every 2 months at least Less expensive because regular maintenance is not needed for a longer period of time
Longer time needed on the process itself (usually 2-3 hours) At least 45-90 minutes to spend for the complete procedure
More damage in the hair as it involves bleaching and dyeing processes for several sessions Less damage since only a certain part will be bleached and dyed
Can be a disadvantage for hair with a shorter length Can be applied for short, medium, and long hair
Requires more care and treatment Fewer products and treatments

Should I Get A Full Or Partial Balayage?

Choosing between partial and full balayage may become a tough decision for you.

Of course, you wanted to have a hair color that would fit you and make you more beautiful. That’s why we listed down some factors that you have to consider before deciding on which style suits you better.


Your own preference greatly affects which style you would want to apply to your hair.

If you just want to have a subtle and natural look, choose partial balayage. It would only add lighter shades without affecting much of your hair’s base color. 

If you want to have a more noticeable change, go for the full balayage. The change in color would result in a drastic difference from your base color so you would easily get attention and compliment from your peers.

But most importantly, it is smart to choose a style that fits your personal taste and personality.

Condition of your hair

Since the balayage technique requires dyeing and bleaching, you have to consider if your hair can handle those heavy processes.

If you have healthy hair, you can go for a full balayage.

This may have some disadvantages as your hair must undergo several bleaching procedures, but proper treatment and care would lessen the possible damage.

However, if your hair is already weak or damaged, maybe due to previous changes in color or another hairstyling, choose partial balayage for a less damaging procedure.

Your hair will be just lightened for some parts. However, the shade will definitely make your hair more fabulous.

Length of your hair

If you have long hair, full balayage would definitely bring out a more vibrant feel.

The change of color between different shades will be more apparent since there’s more area to keep your base color while lightening the area to the tips.

But if you have short or medium hair, choose partial balayage.

Stylists usually cut up to 2 cm from the tip of your hair in every session of full balayage so your hair might look shorter each time you have to go for a maintenance session.


How frequently you must return to your hairdresser depends on how long your hair has grown or how you take care of the color.

However, with full balayage, you have to follow the rule of visiting at least every 2 to 3 months. This will make sure your hair maintains its highlight as it grows longer.

Partial balayage, on the other hand, requires fewer visits to the salon since this style doesn’t need much maintenance.

As your hair roots grow over time, the lighter shades would just be highlighted at the tips, but can still look natural. 


Taking in mind the expenses of the process itself, the maintenance’s cost, and other treatments, full balayage is definitely more expensive than partial balayage.

The procedure of having balayage is an investment already. The ways of maintaining and taking care of your investment are another expense to think of.

Also, partial balayage only requires low maintenance because the hair growth in your root isn’t much visible and looks natural with balayage.

You may even choose to have a partial balayage if you plan on growing out your hair while still making it look classy.

What Does Partial Balayage Mean?


Partial balayage is a hair coloring process with the use of a freehand technique that only focuses on certain portions of your hair rather than adding highlights throughout your hair.

Usually, this technique is applied to the front layer or upper layer of your hair, focusing on the tips.

The word Balayage actually came from “Balayer,” a French word that means to sweep.

Through the process of balayage, whether it is a partial or full style, hairdressers hand paint highlights on your hair as if they’re sweeping colors on it.

This technique results in natural-looking shades on your locks.

How Long Does Partial Balayage Take?

The time varies depending on the length of your hair and the style of your highlights.

However, having partial balayage usually takes at least 45-90 minutes on average to complete.

Since the process is done by freehand technique, the time may vary greatly especially on thicker and longer hair.

How Much Does A Partial Balayage Cost?

The price is different from place to place.

It’s difficult to give an exact amount because every person has different hair needs and certain salons may offer lower or higher costs depending on the shop’s credentials and rates.

However, partial balayage appointments usually cost you around $70-$130.

Also Read: How Much To Tip Hairdresser On $200, $300 Highlights?

Partial Balayage vs Full Balayage For Black/Dark Brown Hair

For those people who have darker hair color, going for a lighter shade would definitely make an obvious change.

Having balayage basically means painting your hair with a lighter color than the base color you have and doing full balayage on your black/dark brown locks may become overwhelming to you. 

You can start with partial balayage to have a natural, sun-kissed look on your hair, especially if it’s your first time trying to dye your hair, and then just go for full balayage at a later time.

Slowly changing your hair color from dark to lighter shade will make it look more natural on you.

Partial Balayage vs Full Balayage For Blonde Hair

Balayage can be applied to any hair color with the exception of pure blonde hair.

Because the goal of having a balayage is to lighten the color of the hair further, pure blonde cannot be applied with the traditional technique.

However, the reverse balayage technique can be used, in which a darker shade is applied on the lighter colored hair to achieve the same effect.

Similar case with the darker hair, it is better to go for a partial balayage first and just make it full anytime you think you’re ready.

Related Questions

How should you take care of your investment in balayage?

Before you go to a salon, you have to choose the right stylist for your hair because your choice can make or break the hairstyle you wanted.

When taking care of your hair, especially when it’s already bleached or dyed, minimizing the amount of heat you apply to your hair could help to reduce the damage.

Using proper treatment products and an appropriate hairbrush will also lessen the breakage of your hair strands.

What hair products are used to maintain partial balayage?

To maintain shiny hair and retain its color, the use of color-protecting shampoo and conditioner is a must.

Aside from the regular conditioner, you should also add leave-in conditioner in your hair routine once to thrice a week to boost your hair volume and softness.

And of course, a popular product used in the hairstyling industry, purple shampoo and conditioner will protect your hair color while making it healthy.

What’s the difference between partial balayage and highlights?

Partial balayage and partial highlights have a similar purpose, but with different techniques and styles.

With partial balayage, a faded effect is painted on your hair that results in a personalized and unique look. On the other hand, partial highlights are more visible as it involves dyeing a particular section of your hair from roots to tips.