Hair Streaks VS Highlights, What's The Difference?

Hair Streaks VS Highlights

Are you cut between two options (highlights and hair streaks) for your next look? Hair streaks and highlights are two popular options when adding depth and texture to one’s hair. These two make great and trendy styles, elevating the look instantly.

While some confuse both or assume hair streaks and highlights are the same, this article will help clarify that; highlighting their differences, pros, and cons and offering you insights that will assist you in making your choice.

Are you ready? Let's get right into it!

What Are Hair Streaks?

What Are Hair Streaks

Hair streaks create contrast in the hair. It involves adding colors to different parts of the hair in large sections to make a statement. While some use natural and subtle hues for their hair streaks, others use more daring colors to make bold statements.

Nevertheless, using hair streaks can be a great way to experiment with colors, especially if you're not ready for an all-dye. It will add a dramatic effect and give you the perfect contrast with your natural hair color.

Pros and Cons of Streaks


  • Offer you a wide range of bold and vibrant choices.
  • Allow you to be more creative with your look.
  • It is dramatic and bold.


  • Streaks express certain moods and do not fit into all lifestyles.
  • If the streaks are not properly done, it can damage your hair.
  • It may require more maintenance. Still, it depends on the coloring product you use.

What Are Highlights?

What Are Highlights

Highlights colors thin strands of hair to create contrast in the hair. The hair dyes used for highlights are usually one or two shades lighter than the hair, giving the hair dimension and the perfect depth it needs. With this, the hair looks more natural and has a sun-kissed appearance.

To achieve highlights in the hair, there are different methods to use. There is the balayage, ombre, foiling and more. Each of them creates a contrast but gives a different effect on the hair.

Related Read: Highlight Vs Balayage

Pros and Cons of Highlights


  • Help frame the face and add depth to the hair.
  • Create a natural and sun-kissed appearance.
  • Can be used on both dyed and natural hair.
  • It does not require much maintenance, and even with regrowth, it still looks good.


  • May not give a bold look like streaks do.
  • Leans more to a traditional type of look.
  • The process is time-consuming.
  • The highlights might not turn out well if not done very well.

Difference Between Streaks and Highlights

Difference Between Streaks and Highlights

While hair streaks and highlights add colors to the hair, there are clear differences between them. These differences are in terms of styles, application, and many more. So, let's take a look at a few of them.

1. Intensity and Effect

Highlights appear more natural and subtle, giving you an elegant look. Streaks, on the other hand, offer a bold and vibrant effect with the color and large sections.

2. Size and Thickness

The size and thickness of streaks and highlights are different and not hard to differentiate. That's because streaks are bigger, and are in different parts of the hair, making the contrast noticeable. But highlights are smaller, in different parts of the hair, making the contrast smoother.

3. Color Choices

As we've mentioned, streaks allow you to choose from a variety of colors. It doesn't necessarily have to be a harmonious color with your hair. All it needs is your creativity, and you're free to experiment.

Highlights go a few shades lighter than the color of your hair to make sure it blends well with it.

4. Maintenance

Since hair streaks are bigger, they require more maintenance than highlights. That's because once there's regrowth, with streaks, it's noticeable, unlike with highlights. Highlights are much more on the subtle side even when your hair grows out.

5. Versatility

You can add highlights to your hair no matter its length and style. That makes it versatile. Highlights compliment your hair, creating a gorgeous contrast. Streaks also make a bold statement and give you an entirely new look.

6. Application Techniques

Another clear difference between highlights and streaks is the application technique. Highlights use methods like foiling and balayage to achieve its effect. These methods are used on smaller strands of hair and wrapped in foils to give a nice and subtle contrast.

But, unlike it are hair streaks, which involve applying the hair color to the hair strands directly and in big sections. This method allows the contrast to be striking and defined.

What to Consider Before Choosing Between Streaks and Highlights

What to Consider Before Choosing Between Streaks and Highlights

Streaks and highlights are two transformative styles that are worth considering. But, as individuals, there are factors you must keep in mind and weigh before making your choice. These considerations and factors include;

1. Maintenance Requirements

It's not out of place if you consider the maintenance requirements before getting your hair done. That's because hair streaks and highlights require different levels of dedication and time to keep them looking gorgeous at all times.

Streaks, for instance, require more frequent touch-ups due to the bright colors and the visible growth. On the other hand, highlights need less frequent maintenance. As we've said, the growth appears natural and won't require you to visit the salon regularly as you would with streaks.

So, give the maintenance requirements some thought before going ahead with one.

2. Your Desired Effect

Considering the effect you want will make deciding between hair streaks and highlights much easier. So, think of the change you'd love to achieve. For example, do you want something natural? Or are you hoping for a vibrant effect on your look? Once you know your answer, you can make your decision.

3. Color Preference

Another factor you must take note of is your color preference. Streaks allows you to select from a wide range of shades. Colors like the neons to pastels are at your disposal. However, with highlights, you're going only a few shades lighter, so your color options are limited.

While it's important you consider what colors you love and would like to experiment with, do take note of your skin tone as well. And that leads us to the next factor.

4. Skin Tone

When going for colors, consider colors that will suit your skin tone. That'll help you make a final choice between highlights and hair streaks.

Highlights tend to blend well with the base color of hair, helping to improve one’s complexion and look. However, streaks will give your hair an attention-grabbing contrast. So, you must choose colors that will complement your skin tone well.

5. The Growing Out Stage

You may want to consider highlights if you're worried about when your hair starts to grow out. Highlights do not make the change between the highlighted area and the growth area of your hair obvious. However, that's a different case with streaks. Hairstreaks make it obvious due to the vibrant colors used.

6. The Cost

While the cost of highlights and hair streaks depends on various factors, such as the products you use, stylist, and time, nonetheless, hair streaks might be costlier. This is because hair streaks require more products than highlights and can take a while to get it done. So, weigh the cost of styling each of them in your location and maintaining it in the long run.

7. Your Lifestyle

It's possible to skip this part when deciding which of them to go for, but you shouldn't. Consider your lifestyle and everyday activities before deciding which one to choose.

Highlights are versatile and suitable for daily activities, events, and special occasions. They can complement different outfits and meet the theme from formal to casual outings. However, hair streaks may not give you all that. While it's versatile as well, it's more vibrant and on the bolder side. Most times, it fits into specific outings and themes but not formal occasions.

Are Hair Streaks and Highlights Damaging to the Hair?

Are Hair Streaks and Highlights Damaging to the Hair

Yes, as beautiful as they may be, highlights and hair streaks can damage the hair. Since both involve chemical treatments that can strip the natural hair of moisture, your hair can become brittle and dry. The chemicals used can also cause breakage, fade over time, and weaken your hair structure.

But the good news is you can avoid these potential damages and minimize risks by moisturizing your hair, using high-quality products, and consulting a professional who is experienced and qualified in color techniques.

How To Get Hair Streaks or Highlights Without Dying My Hair?

Consider buying several pieces of clip-in hair streaks or just get a wig. Wigs have become more and more normal and popular these years, they are so natural and easy to put on. Whether you are suffering from hair loss or just want to experience new hairstyles and colors, a human hair wig never let you down.

Cynosure Hair released some new designs skunk stripe wigs and highlight wigs with the newest cap construction, that you can put on and go without applying glue or gel to secure your wig. In addition, the pre-cut lace, pre-bleached knots, pre-plucked hairline, and pre-styled make it possible to throw the wig on and go.

How Should You Care for Your Hair Highlights or Streaks?

Caring for your highlights or streaks properly makes your hair stay healthy and gorgeous for a long time.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Stick to color-safe products, for instance, color-safe and sulfate-free shampoos.
  • Make sure you avoid heat-styling tools as well. It'll help to protect your tresses.
  • Prioritize hair masks and deep conditioner for moisture so your hair doesn't become dry.
  • Go for your regular trims to keep it looking good.
  • Lastly, protect your hair from the sun.

What's Your Final Answer?

Now that you know about highlights and streaks, what's your pick?

While choosing between them can be hard, with the factors above, you can make a more reasonable decision based on your preferences and lifestyle.

So, make your choice and rock your hair confidently.

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