Considering getting highlights or balayage for the first time? A consultation with your designer is the best place to start. Mango Designer @madimangorva works with a lot of first-time color guests and she always begins her conversation by finding out their expectations for the look and maintenance of their hair color.

Madi explains, “I ask guests to describe their end goal. Do they want to be as bright as possible? Do they want a more subtle look that is blended to the root? How do they feel about the grow out and maintenance of highlights vs. balayage.”  

Thinking about these questions and being informed about both techniques will help prepare you for the consultation. Take this quiz to see which technique matches your hair goals.


  1. Lighten and brighten the overall color of my hair
  2. Add face framing lighter pieces
  3. Break up the solid color of my hair by adding dimension
  4. Get shinier hair that accentuates my hair’s natural color

(Answer- A. Full highlights generally give you an all over lighter and brighter look. B. Both Partial Highlights and Balayage can offer a soft face framing look, the solution will depend on whether you want the lighter color to go to the scalp. C. Breaking up solid color near the scalp will require highlights or lowlights with highlights. Breaking up color on the mid-section to ends can be done with Balayage. D. Very subtle Balayage or a professional Shine Treatment would accomplish this.)



  1. Sunkissed with a few subtle streaks of lighter hair
  2. An overall blonder or lighter brown look that starts at scalp
  3. Contrast of darker roots and light hair ends
  4. Dimension that shows darker pieces of hair next to lighter pieces of hair, all the way up to the scalp

(Answer- A. Balayage B. Highlights C. Balayage or Ombre D. Highlights or a combination of Highlights and Balayage)



  1. Long (below shoulders)
  2. Medium (from shoulders to chin)
  3. Short (pixies, short shags, above the chin cuts)

(Answer- A. Balayage, B. Highlights or Balayage—depending on the maintenance and look, C. Highlights)



  1. Once or twice a year
  2. Four times a year
  3. More than Four times a year if needed

(Answer- A. Balayage is the lowest risk and lowest maintenance technique because it is mainly applied to the ends of hair and therefore will grow out more naturally. B. & C.  Highlights, Balayage, Ombre, Shine Treatments depending on length of hair and hair goal. If you have greater flexibility in your time and budget, you could test more dramatic looks or get gray coverage in addition to these techniques.)

HIGHLIGHTS- A process where you can achieve either subtle, natural contrast all the way to the root, or a lighter look all over your hair. The hair is lightened in pieces from the scalp to ends and foil is used to process this transformation. For shorter hair, this is the best option. It is also a good choice if you want to break up dark roots and add dimension near the scalp. Adding a few highlights can be very soft and natural with a less noticeable grow out, while adding full highlights can offer a completely lighter and brighter look. Maintenance on a full highlight will require more visits to the salon to avoid noticeable roots.

BALAYAGE- Balayage (pronounced bah-lay-ahge) comes from the French term balayer which means “to sweep”, and is said to have been developed in Paris during the 1970’s. It’s known for its sweeping, hand-painted technique and effortless, sun kissed look around the face and tips of the hair. Balayage is known for its lower maintenance look most often seen on longer hair. It doesn’t require as much salon maintenance because of its subtle re-growth.

“I usually recommend this type of balayage for a younger guest who is dipping their toes into the world of color for the first time. It tends to look a little more natural and has a way softer grow out because color does not go to the roots and is therefore not a shocking change as it grows out.” Madi explains.

Today there are many looks on social media that show more dramatic rooted looks that are similar to balayage but require more color and maintenance. Ombre is an example of one of these techniques. It differs from balayage, because the hair color transitions from a dark root to a very light end. This effect requires color be applied all over the hair. There are other balayage looks that require multiple techniques, in addition to balayage—like root drags and color melts. It is important to be aware of the additional maintenance and application costs of these services.

Regardless of technique, both highlights and balayage can achieve multiple looks, from soft and natural to bright and dramatic. You can anticipate spending approximately 2-4 hours in the salon for either technique, but it will depend on the length, thickness, condition, and natural color of your hair. Mango offers complimentary virtual consultations, a new guest online color survey, and a special offer for new color guests.  Now through August 6, 2022, new color guests can get $50 off any color service of $100 or more.

Not sure you are ready for either of these color techniques, but want to test adding some shine and subtle change to your hair? Mango’s Director of Education Hauns Korpela recommends trying a Mango Shine Treatment. It is easy on the pocketbook, zero maintenance, and it truly is a treat for the hair. This treatment consists of a professionally applied toner with very little pigment that gives your hair shine and a slight gold or copper tone. It washes out of the hair in approximately 4 weeks and has the added benefit of leaving your hair feeling fuller and conditioned.  It will not produce the more noticeably bright highlights created with foiling or balayage, but it naturally enhances your existing color and is a great first step for anyone considering highlights or balayage.

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