6 Differences Between Good and Bad Balayage (that you should know)

  • Difference 1: In good balayage, you’ll always notice a gradient from dark to light, from roots to ends. In bad balayage, there’s no gradient.
  • Difference 2: The tones of a good balayage are in harmony with the color of the skin. In turn, in a bad balayage, the strident tones highlight the face’s imperfections.
  • Difference 3: You’ll never notice a dividing line between the tones of a good balayage. In a bad balayage, on the other hand, they’ll look like spots and sharp streaks.
  • Difference 4: A good balayage ends with a toner. Otherwise, the balayage will be incomplete, and therefore, poorly done.
  • Difference 5: The roots are never bleached in a good balayage. If you bleach them, what you actually get are highlights.
  • Difference 6: Finally, good balayage is done considering the hair’s health. In a bad balayage, you’ll notice the ends brittle and the color dull.


coloring errors

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Today, I’m especially sad because I had to take care of a fifteen-year-old teenager at the salon. A week ago, she had left her hair in the hands of her best friend to get a balayage.

The results were disastrous because the balayage turned bad.


The reasons were visible: her ends looked like straw, and  it was impossible to tell she had a balayage. It looked like her hair had been dipped from mid-lengths to ends in a can of paint. 

There was nothing of what good balayage should have.

There was no harmony in the tones chosen nor a smooth, harmonious gradient from roots to ends.


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Still, there were some signs. Those signs showed that  the person who had done the balayage didn’t have the slightest idea of the technique. 

She hadn’t worked carefully enough to get a good balayage instead of a bad one.


There was also a girl devastated by a poor job. She wanted a balayage to celebrate her 15th birthday and look perfect at the party.

Actually, two people were devastated: the birthday girl, because her hair was a mess, and her friend, because she couldn’t sleep due to her guilt.

Her birthday was just a few weeks away. Could she, somehow, save the mess to wear a balayage for her 15th birthday party?


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Yes, I actually did it with a color correction technique. Although the teenager regained her smile, she had to pay a high price.

To avoid this, I think you have go deeper into the most important differences between bad and good balayage.

This way, you’ll know what to expect from the colorist’s work. You’ll also know that many times, your best option is to go to a salon to achieve the perfect balayage.

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Difference 1 – You should notice a well-done gradient, from dark to light, from roots to ends.

dividing line in the middle of the hair

In a bad balayage, you’ll notice several colors that don’t create a gradient. The expected harmony is lost as well as the subtle difference between the different tones chosen by the stylist.


 The main goal of the balayage technique is to achieve a color gradient from dark to light. It usually starts from dark roots to a lighter tone at the ends. 


The difference between the color of the roots and the ends must be more than two tones. Otherwise, the balayage will look bad.


Difference 2 – A good balayage will always be in harmony with your skin color.

harmony between balayage and skin color

Balayage tones should create a perfect harmony with your skin tone.

If the tones chosen are too strident, create a violent contrast, or produce a strong and striking impression, your hair will look like a wig.

Do you want to know the best tones for your balayage according to your skin color?


  • If your skin is pale, choose reddish and copper tones. You can also go for warm tones, such as golds. Those colors will bring elegance, vitality, and above all, a lot of glow to your face.
  • If your skin is olive, your best alternative is honey, gold, chocolate mahogany, and natural brown. The idea is not to use cold colors because they’ll dull the natural glow of your face.
  • If your skin is dark brown, go for golden browns, mahogany browns, warm browns, and reddish browns.


Remember that hair is the frame of your face, and a technique like balayage can help you highlight your best features.


Difference 3 – In a good balayage, there are no dividing lines or streaks of color.

dividing lines along the hair

The balayage technique implies neatness and care. If your balayage has color spots similar to a leopard’s skin, it means that the bleach was not applied correctly.


 Another very common characteristic of a bad balayage is a very sharp dividing line between the root growth color and the color of the ends. 


That’s not balayage. Hopefully, it could become a Californian highlights job. But if what you want is a balayage, you should always keep in mind the essence of the technique: the gradient.

If you don’t alternate bleached with unbleached strands, instead of achieving a color gradient, you’ll get a straight line. That’s not the result you’re looking for.


Difference 4 – To achieve good balayage, a toner should always be applied.

The reason is simple. The toner is the icing on the cake of the balayage job.

Even if you achieve the perfect gradient, you’ll need a toner. If you don’t do it, your hair will keep the color it had after bleaching.

Therefore, the coloring job will not be finished, and the balayage will be bad.


Toning or color touch-up is a coloring technique that adds color or shine to your natural tone. It’s a very healthy method because almost no chemical additives are used.


Difference 5 – In a good balayage, the roots are not bleached.


Therefore, it all comes down to the technique. Let’s be honest. Nowadays, most people call balayage anything that involves bleaching a few strands.

However, the reality is very different. Balayage, ombre, and shading all involve bleaching some strands, but the results are totally different.


Many people wear a highlighting cap, take out the strands to bleach the mid-lengths and end0s, and leave the growth unbleached. But let’s not forget one detail. If the bleaching is done from the root, it’s no longer balayage. Instead, it’s HIGHLIGHTING. 

If you don’t get the roots bleached, you get a bad balayage. It looks like highlights from mid-lengths to ends.


The balayage is done freehand to achieve a gradient that gives more movement, shine, and volume to the hair. Therefore, the beginning of the strand cannot be identified in a good balayage because the gradient blends the different tones.


Difference 6 – A good balayage will always be done on healthy hair.


This is crucial. If your hair is dehydrated or weak, unfortunately, you’ll not be able to wear a good balayage. The result will be a washed-out gradient on dry and damaged hair.


That’s why, before bleaching your hair for a balayage, you should get a correct hair health diagnosis. Bleaching is an aggressive chemical process for the hair.

Therefore, if your hair is dry or slightly damaged, you should perform hair recovery treatments before balayage.



If you have not yet had a balayage, you already know what you need to pay attention to in order to get the result you want.

If you already had it done and you realize that it’s bad, you’ll be able to understand where the mistake was when applying the technique.

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