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What Is Foilyage? How Is It Different from Balayage?

by Madison Reed February 14, 2024

foilyage using balayage foils

Image by Madison Reed

What Is Foilyage? How Is It Different from Balayage?

What is foilyage? It’s a hair-coloring method that combines two popular techniques: hand-painted balayage and highlighting using foils. As you might expect, coloring your hair with this technique produces a distinctive and gorgeous result. Want to learn more about foilyage? Then, read on!

What Exactly Is Foilyage?

The name foilyage is a clever combination of two words: foil and balayage. Pretty self-explanatory, right? But what exactly does that mean?


Well, foilyage starts as your usual balayage – the colorist sections your hair and hand-paints the selected strands with a lightener. However, the magic happens when the highlighted sections are placed in foil. These sections are often thinner than what you’d find in traditional open-air balayage.


With this technique, you get highlights that may be lighter than balayage and slightly closer to the root, without the high contrast of traditional foil highlights. The beauty of this technique is that you get the natural-looking, lived-in effect of balayage but with the more noticeable and precise outcome of foil highlighting.

Foilyage vs. Balayage

The differences between foilyage and balayage are subtle but significant. When you compare photos side by side, you'll notice:

  • Foilyage will look brighter than balayage, somewhere closer to traditional foil highlights

  • Foilyage will provide a less-noticeable regrowth than foil highlights but slightly faster regrowth than balayage

  • Balayage will resemble the way in which sun rays fall on your hair, creating a slightly more natural look (but foilyage still looks quite natural!)

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Maintaining Foilyage

One of the best things about foilyage is that it’s super easy to maintain – you don’t have to get your highlights touched up too often to keep your hair looking fresh and beautiful. How so?


It all comes down to the fact that the highlights tend to grow out fairly naturally compared to a high-contrast highlight. The best way to keep these lightened pieces looking fresh and toned is to use Glosses or Toning Glazes.

Foilyage vs. Balayage: Which One Is Right for You?

So, you’re considering foilyage or balayage – but you don’t know which one will suit you? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


In general, opt for foilyage if you want highlights that are two or more levels lighter than your natural color, or if you want more lightness closer to the root area.

Balayage, on the other hand, will be better if you want subtle, sun-kissed highlights that are more focused on the lengths of your hair.


Remember, these are general guidelines. For the best choice for you, you’ll want to consult your hair colorist. They're experts in determining which technique suits your hair best and can guide you to a stunning result!

Is Foilyage Expensive?

Since this is a more intricate technique than balayage, you won’t be able to get foilyage at home. This means that you will need to find a good hair colorist. So, how much does it cost?

The price of foilyage depends on a couple of factors: your current hair color and what your colorist typically charges for the service. Some charge by the hour, others by the foil, and some might include a base price along with additional charges. Thus, it’s difficult to predict how much you’ll need to pay. However, you should expect the cost to be anywhere from $150 up to $200+, depending on the salon.

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The Takeaway

So, to sum it up, foilyage is a highlighting technique that blends traditional foil highlights with the charm of balayage. It gives you the beauty of balayage with the brightness of foil highlights.


Foilyage is the perfect choice if you crave more lightness than balayage but desire a soft, lived-in look compared to traditional foils. Remember, if you don’t know which one to choose, please consult a professional hair colorist.


Did you like this article? You may also read: Balayage vs. Highlights: the Great Debate