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Difference Between Partial Highlights Vs. Full Highlights

Difference Between Partial Highlights Vs. Full Highlights

Last updated date Tue Apr 16 2024 By William Brown

Fashion Blog

Nowadays, most women choose either partial or full highlights to enhance the appearance of their hair. Some hair stylists recommend their clients try different highlights to transform the look of their new haircut or hairstyle. After deciding to get a highlight, you need to learn the benefits of getting partial highlights vs. full highlights.

There are two types of highlights that can give your hair a unique appearance. In this guide, Mic Hair will learn the difference between partial and full highlights. Let’s learn what partial highlights are and share tips for women who want to try getting these highlights.

What Are Partial Highlights?

Partial highlights, also called balayage, are a hair coloring technique where only specific sections of the hair are lightened, leaving the rest of the hair its natural color or previously dyed color. The women you see with partial highlights have some color added to the area surrounding their faces to create a brightening or framing effect.

To do partial highlights, the hair stylist should use hair foils to keep the hair dye only act the intentional sections. Your hairdresser could advise "lightening the base" so that you can make your highlights a few shades lighter than your natural color because highlights are just touching a portion of your tresses.

What Are Partial Highlights?

What Are Partial Highlights?

What Are Partial Highlights?

What Are Partial Highlights?

>> Read more: A guide to dye hair bundles at home <<

What Are Full Highlights?

Full highlights, often known as "a full head of highlights," are basically lightening your whole hair. You will have your own hair dyed brighter shades. If your hair is naturally dark shade, you might need lightening products such as bleach or lightening powder to have eye-catching color. 

While full highlights can be very eye-catching, it can harm your hair and scalp. It's essential to consult with a professional hairstylist for full highlights to ensure that the process is done safely and effectively while achieving the desired outcome.

What Are Full Highlights?
What Are Full Highlights?
What Are Full Highlights?

Differences Between Partial Highlights And Full Highlights

When you choose full highlights, the salon expert will include highlights all over the hair strands. While adding partial highlights, the hairstylist will only include highlights in certain sections of the hair. Moreover, the salon expert will first ask about the result you want to achieve before starting the highlighting process.

The highlights can be added to the top layers or the front section of the hair based on the look that you want to achieve. Compared to partial highlights, there is a limited possibility in the full highlight process.


Full highlights require much more maintenance than partial highlights. The main difference you need to know about partial highlights vs. full highlights is that the latter is more obvious for others to notice when the hair strands grow. Since the hairstylist will add highlights through the hair strands, people with full highlights regularly retouch to make the difference less visible.


Partial highlights give a less dramatic effect to the hair compared to full highlights. The effects of partial highlights are more subtle because we can see a lot of the base hair color.

Compared to full highlights, you won’t notice a dramatic change to the overall hair color after adding partial highlights. If you want full highlights, look for an experienced hairstylist who knows how to make arrangements to provide a subtle look.

Differences Between Partial Highlights And Full Highlights

Same Process

The process of applying for partial and full highlights is the same. Most hairstylists will use color-paste brushes and foils to add color to the hair strands.

Even though the process is the same, partial highlights can generally be done less frequently than full highlights. The hairstylist has to apply full highlights to more sections of the hair. Applying the right color highlight to the proper hair sections can take a lot of time because it needs to be done carefully.


If you don’t have a good budget, then choosing partial highlights will be the ideal decision. Full highlights are usually expensive because they require more work and material to give a perfect result. However, when you ask for full highlights, the effects are significantly better than partial ones.

How To Take Proper Care Of Highlighted Hair?

After getting partial or full highlights, you must find the best techniques to maintain the lightened hair strands. Here are some important things to remember to take proper care of highlighted hair.

1 - Keep The Hair Brass-Free

Most people have issues when the highlighted hair strands turn brassy with time. If you use a dark base color to get highlights, then the chances of finding a brassy look are even higher. You should apply a purple shampoo and conditioner to eliminate unwanted orange or yellow tones in highlighted manes.

2 - Keep Up With Touch-Ups

After 3-4 weeks, the dark root will grow longer and become more visible. It makes the highlighted hair no longer naturally blended. If you want your highlighted hair to always look perfect, then book an appointment in advance with an experienced hair colorist. They will dye your roots and you will have your hair blended seamlessly again.

How To Take Proper Care Of Highlighted Hair?

3 - Keep It Smooth And Shiny

If your hair is dull and frizzy, getting highlights won’t give it the desired appearance. Keep your hair smooth and shiny by applying oil every week and using a good conditioner. Partial and full highlights will look great on healthier and shinier hair strands.

How To Choose Between Partial Highlights And Full Highlights

The number of highlights that are included throughout the hair makes partial highlights different from full highlights. Moreover, the process of including highlights also differs. Here is what you need to consider before deciding which one will be an ideal option.

How To Choose Between Partial Highlights And Full Highlights

1 - All-Over-Mane Change

Those who want to add highlights throughout the hair and get a drastic change should choose full highlights. If someone wants an all-over lighter look without the bleaching technique, then full highlights can help them get the desired result.

2 - Natural Dimension

Some women like natural dimensions. They should select partial highlights that are one or two shades lighter than their natural hair color. Make sure to inform the hair colorist that you want a subtle and natural appearance.

3 - Standout Dimension

Even women who want standout dimensions should consider selecting partial highlights between the two options. Your hair colorist can choose a much lighter shade to provide a high-contrast and dimensional appearance.


We hope you now understand the difference between partial highlights and full highlights. You should make sure the hair strands are healthier and shinier before deciding to add highlights. Always get advice from a hair colorist to be sure which color will give the desired result.

>>> Read more: What does toner do to brown hair with highlights <<<


William Brown

William Brown


William is a professional hair stylist with over 10 years of experience. He is passionate about creating personalized, trendy looks for his clients and specializes in hair treatments and updos. He is now a certified hair adviser for Mic Hair Company. His articles are always filled with advice, pro tips, and latest hair research results.

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