De9ab67c6fe4f6f8857d highlights

Whether you regularly get highlights or are new to the service, you may have the same question: do I need partial highlights or full? 

When you decide to color your hair, it may feel like there are endless terms that you need to know — balayage, foilyage, toning, gloss, root smudge, partial highlights, full head highlights. Depending on each hairstylist or salon, you may be required to specify the exact service when booking or simply rely on what your stylist suggests — but if you want to know the difference between partial and full highlights keep reading.


Highlighting involves the use of bleach to lighten specifically chosen areas of the hair to add dimension, depth and accents. This can be done in either subtle or bold ways to achieve various desired effects. Additionally, within highlights comes the subcategories of partial highlights or full highlights.

What Are Partial Highlights?

Partial highlights are ideal for someone just getting started with their lightening journey who might not want a complete transformation just yet. They require less time in the chair, are less pricey and usually less of a commitment when it comes to upkeep. It will depend on each individual stylist, their style and how much they choose to include but partial highlights usually include the top and side sections of the hair or simply a face frame. 

Partial highlights are great for adding lightness around the face, breaking up color by adding subtle dimension or simply framing a haircut or natural texture. 

What Are Full Highlights?

Full highlights are the process of lightening the hair by sectioning the entire head from nape to temples. This is usually a much longer service time and a bigger investment which pays off in a more substantial impact. However, depending on placement and level of lift, full head highlights can also be much more upkeep. 

Full highlights can be alternated with Partial highlights at every other appointment to allow for impact without excess. 

The Main Differences Between Partial and Full Highlights:

  • Full highlights are placed at the nape of the neck to offer impact whether you wear your hair up, down or half up. 
  • Partial highlights are a lower cost and time alternative that can be mixed in with full highlights to ease upkeep and cut down on damage.
  • Full highlights add more drama and are necessary for anyone looking for a big change.
  • Partial highlights tend to be more natural-looking.

The Takeaway:

Everything from your hair type and texture to your lifestyle can impact the type of highlights you should pick so for best results the process should be discussed with your stylist to come up with a plan. 


Whether you decide on partial or full highlights, the product choices for upkeep will be the same. For best results, highlighted hair should be looked after with shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatments formulated specifically for color-treated hair. Here are a few of our favorites: