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How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights? Timelines for Every Technique (2024)

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how long does it take to get highlights

To get highlights, the time can range from under an hour to up to 4 hours, depending on the technique. For partial highlights, it typically takes less than an hour.

For a full foil highlight, it can take 1.5-3 hours. Balayage, a more customized technique, requires 2-4 hours. Ombre highlights take 1-3 hours.

Proper consultation, preparation, and patience are key to achieving your desired look. While the time commitment may vary, the results can be truly transformative.

Key Takeaways

  • The time it takes to get highlights can vary depending on the technique used, with partial highlights taking less than an hour, full foil highlights taking 1.5-3 hours, balayage taking 2-4 hours, and ombré highlights taking 1-3 hours.
  • Proper consultation and preparation are crucial before getting highlights, including arriving with freshly washed hair and discussing the desired look, hair color, and lifestyle with a hair stylist.
  • Patience and maintenance are key to achieving the desired look, with maintenance appointments every 8-10 weeks and deep conditioning treatments recommended to preserve the health of the hair.
  • The time and cost of getting highlights can vary depending on the technique and stylist’s experience, with partial highlights typically less expensive than full highlights, and balayage being more costly due to its custom application.

How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights?

Getting highlights can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the technique and your hair’s length and thickness. Foil highlights can take between 1.5 to 3 hours, while cap highlights take around 1 to 2 hours. Partial highlights, which focus on specific areas, typically take less time, around 30 minutes to an hour. The process includes consultation, formulating, application, processing, and styling.

Consultation and Preparation

Consultation and Preparation

Before getting highlights, arrive with freshly washed hair and schedule an appointment with a hair stylist.

During the consultation, discuss your desired look, hair color, and lifestyle.

Consider the time and cost of the service.

Salon amenities like deep conditioning treatments can help maintain your highlights.

Highlighting Techniques and Timelines

Highlighting Techniques and Timelines
The time it takes to get highlights can vary greatly depending on the technique used. For instance, foil highlights typically take 1.5-3 hours, while balayage takes 2-4 hours, and ombre takes 1-3 hours.

Foil Highlights: 1.5-3 Hours

Foil highlights involve using foil and careful placement to add dimension or lightness to your hair.

This technique can blend gray hair** and accent your natural color, creating various looks from blonde to gray blending.

The time it takes for foil highlights depends on the number of foils used, their thickness, and placement.

Partial foils take less time than full foils, and the process is customizable based on your desired look.

Cap Technique: 1-2 Hours

Diving into the cap technique, you’re looking at a 1-2 hour time commitment. This old-school method uses a cap and hair clips for precise sectioning, unlike the more modern foil placement. It’s a hair training session in patience and precision. Remember, mastering this technique means less maintenance down the road. So, buckle up and let the transformation begin!

Partial Highlight: Less Than an Hour

Partial Highlights: Under an Hour

Partial highlights are a time-saving method to add depth and brightness to your hair. This technique involves coloring only specific sections of your hair, usually around the face, to accentuate your features and create a natural-looking effect. Here are three essential aspects to keep in mind when opting for partial highlights:

  1. Sectioning and Foil Placement: Your stylist will meticulously separate your hair and utilize foils to isolate the strands they intend to highlight. This process guarantees that the lightener or bleach solely affects the desired areas, minimizing damage to the remaining hair.
  2. Hair Care and Upkeep: Partial highlights require less maintenance than full highlights, but they still necessitate proper care to maintain their optimal appearance. Your stylist might suggest using color-preserving shampoo and conditioner, avoiding excessive heat styling, and scheduling regular touch-ups to keep your highlights vibrant.
  3. Customization and Style: Partial highlights can be adjusted to your preferences, ranging from subtle to striking, based on their placement and the desired level of contrast. You can also explore various placement options, such as face-framing highlights or top half highlights, to achieve a distinctive look.

Balayage: 2-4 Hours

After breezing through partial highlights, let’s delve into the realm of Balayage, a technique that requires 2-4 hours of your time. This isn’t merely about applying bleach; it’s a form of artistry. Envision your stylist painting your locks like a canvas, ensuring each vertical section and those pesky baby hairs receive their radiant glow.

Process Time
Application 60-90 min
Bleach Time 30-45 min
Toner Time 20-30 min
Condition 10-15 min
Maintenance As needed

Cherish the wait; it’s well worth the time for that sun-kissed liberation.

Ombre: 1-3 Hours

Ombre highlights take 1-3 hours to achieve, depending on the desired intensity and length of the gradient.

This technique involves color selection, styling options, and hair health considerations.

Root touch-ups and weaving may also be necessary.

If you’re wondering how long it takes to get highlights, remember that patience is key to maintaining the ombre’s vibrancy.

Don’t forget to shampoo your hair gently to avoid damaging the highlights.

Customization and Processing Time

Customization and Processing Time
Personalization is paramount in obtaining highlights.

The selection of lightener and developer** can significantly impact the ultimate outcome.

Time limitations and salon accessibility should be taken into account when choosing these products.

Individual preferences play a pivotal role in the decision-making process.

Upon selecting a lightener, consider the intended level of brightness and the health of your hair.

Developers come in varying strengths, which determine the pace of the lightening process.

Selecting the optimal combination of lightener and developer is essential for achieving the desired result.

Importance of Patience and Maintenance

Importance of Patience and Maintenance
Getting highlights is a delicate process that requires time and patience. Rushing through the application or processing stages can lead to undesirable results like hair damage, uneven color, or poor highlight placement.

Time and Patience Required for Highlighting

Concerning the attainment of highlights, perseverance is paramount.

Highlights necessitate time for processing, and precipitating the procedure can result in harm.

As a client, it’s imperative to manage your time and expectations, understanding that professional conduct and the well-being of your hair are of utmost concern to your stylist.

The blending of colors is an essential component of the process and requires time to ensure the desired hue is achieved.

In-depth conditioning treatments are also recommended to preserve the health of your hair.

By understanding the importance of patience and maintenance, you can enjoy the beauty of long-lasting highlights.

Rushing Can Damage Hair

Rushing through the highlighting process can lead to damage. Hair needs time to process the lightener and developer. Patience is key to achieving the desired results without damaging your hair. Maintenance appointments every 8-10 weeks help maintain the look.

Deep conditioning treatments are essential for maintaining the health and appearance of your hair. Here are five reasons why you should incorporate deep conditioning into your hair care routine:

  1. Hydration: Deep conditioning helps provide moisture to dry and damaged hair, preventing breakage, split ends, and frizz.
  2. Softness: Deep conditioning makes your hair softer and more manageable, making it easier to style and maintain.
  3. Improved Elasticity: Deep conditioning treatments can improve the elasticity of your hair, making it less prone to breakage and damage.
  4. Strength: The nutrients and proteins found in deep conditioning treatments help strengthen the hair shaft, making it less prone to damage and breakage.
  5. Shine: Deep conditioning treatments add shine to your hair, making it look healthy and radiant.

To deep condition your hair, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Right Product: Look for deep conditioning treatments that contain humectants and emollients, which bind to water and add moisture to your hair.
  2. Apply the Conditioner: Apply the deep conditioner to your hair, focusing on the mid-shaft to the ends.
  3. Leave it On: Leave the deep conditioner in your hair for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse: Rinse your hair with cool water to remove the deep conditioner.

Planning and Preparation

Planning and Preparation
When planning to get highlights, be mindful of the time and cost involved. Book your appointment well in advance to guarantee availability and facilitate smooth scheduling.

Consider the Time and Cost of the Service

When considering the time and cost of getting highlights, it’s crucial to be aware of the various factors that can impact the final price. Highlighting techniques, such as foil highlights, balayage, or ombre, can range from $50 to $450 or more, depending on the complexity of the desired effect and the stylist’s experience. Factors like hair length, thickness, and previous chemical treatments can also impact the cost.

To get the most bang for your buck, consider your color options, style goals, and personal preferences. Partial highlights, which cover only certain parts of your hair, are typically less expensive than full highlights, making them a good choice for those looking for a more subtle change or adding a few strands of bright color. Balayage, a popular technique that offers a natural, sun-kissed look, can be more costly due to its custom application and the time and skill required.

When planning your highlights, remember that maintenance is an ongoing commitment. Regular touch-ups or root treatments will be necessary depending on your hair growth rate and choice of color. To minimize the cost, consider booking appointments every 8-10 weeks for foil highlights or opting for partial highlights that require less frequent touch-ups.

Schedule the Appointment in Advance

When scheduling your highlight appointment, consider a few key factors. Different highlight styles, hair length, and application techniques can impact the time required. Additionally, your skill level and the availability of your preferred stylist may affect the scheduling process. Plan ahead to guarantee you have ample time for the full highlight experience.

  • Evaluate your desired highlight style and hair length
  • Consider the application technique and your skill level
  • Check your stylist’s availability to find the best time slot

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a partial and full highlight?

Partial highlights just accent your natural hue, while a full head of foils totally transforms your look from root to tip. The partial route’s a snip – the full deal’s a bit more time-consuming, but oh so worth it!

How long does it take to get highlights for the first time?

Getting highlights for the first time can take 2-4 hours, depending on the scope. It’s a process involving mixing formulas, application, and careful processing. Be patient – rushing can damage your hair, so come prepared to unwind.

How often should I get my highlights touched up?

Like the sun peeking through clouds, those radiant highlights need a touch-up every 8-10 weeks. Just think of it as a hair care ritual – a chance to keep your mane looking fresh and fabulous.

Can I use different types of materials for highlighting?

You can use a variety of materials for highlighting your hair, like foils, caps, brushes, or your stylist’s bare hands. Just discuss your options with them to find the perfect technique for your desired look and hair type.

What is the process of hair color blocking and how long does it take?

Hair color blocking is a blast from the past, transforming your locks into a vibrant, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Depending on the complexity, it can whisk you away for 2-4 hours, so buckle up for an exhilarating hair adventure!


Beginning your hair highlight endeavor necessitates meticulous deliberation of duration and approach. Contingent upon your intended appearance, acquiring highlights may span from a swift touch-up to a lavish, tailored session.

Whether you choose foil, balayage, or ombre, comprehending the temporal commitment will guarantee you realize your dream hair without concessions. Thus, devise a strategy, exercise patience, and permit the process of obtaining your ideal highlights to unfold effortlessly.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.