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How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights? Factors & Tips to Know (2024)

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how long does it take to get highlightsAre you looking to give yourself a little boost with some highlights? It can be an intimidating task, but don’t worry – we’ve got everything you need to know about how long it takes.

Highlights are one of the most popular hair color services because they offer a subtle way to make your look stand out. The time it takes is dependent on the type and amount of highlighting desired as well as your hair’s length and porosity.

Knowing what kind of results you want beforehand helps speed up the process at the salon, so come prepared! With our help, understanding how long it takes for highlights will no longer be a mystery.

We’ll cover all aspects from start-to-finish including helpful tips on caring for highlighted hair afterwards so that they last even longer!

Key Takeaways

  • Foils and cap highlights can take 2+ hours, while balayage can take as long as foils.
  • Factors such as hair type, length, porosity, color, and lightening level can affect the time needed for highlights.
  • Darker hair and damaged locks generally require more time for the highlighting process.
  • Aftercare is important and includes avoiding sun and chlorine, washing less with cool water and color-safe products, deep conditioning, using heat protectant, and touching up growth every 4-6 weeks.

Hair Colorist Consultation

Hair Colorist Consultation
Booking a consultation with your colorist is key to getting the look you want in an efficient amount of time. Utilizing rhetorical devices such as metaphor can help paint a vivid picture for them. A good hair colorist will ask questions about the desired result and provide advice on what type of highlights suit specific types and lengths of hair.

They will also assess the processing times needed based on factors like starting shade or condition.

When seeking out an experienced professional to do your highlights, make sure they are well-versed in all techniques. This includes traditional foils placed near the scalp and balayage/ombré away from the scalp.

The sectioning technique can affect how long it takes too. It’s also important that they have detailed knowledge when it comes to aftercare so you get longer-lasting results from their work.

Your stylist’s goal should always be helping create something that fits both your lifestyle needs and beauty preferences without compromising either one.

Types of Highlights

Types of Highlights
When it comes to highlights, there are a few different techniques you can choose from. Foil highlights take 2+ hours for a full head application and provide precise placement. The cap technique is ideal for thick hair and takes between 2-4 hours, while balayage is hand-painted away from the scalp, providing a soft look that also takes as long as foil highlighting.

It’s important to consult with your colorist on the time required, especially if you’re time-constrained.

Foil Highlights

Foil highlights can take 2+ hours for a full head application, perfect for precision placement and longer-lasting results. Planning ahead is essential when budgeting time, as the foil method requires extra care to create well-placed foils that enhance your overall look.

Here are three tips to consider before you book: 1) Ask about how long it will take; 2) Consult with the colorist on technique; 3) Book extra time if needing non-standard colors.

Cap Technique

Cap highlights typically take 2-4 hours and are recommended for thick hair, so you can rock those vibrant streaks without frequent touch-ups. A colorist places the highlighting cap on your head to separate a section of hair, then threads strands through using small hooks or needles.

This is done until all desired sections have been placed with highlights that will be processed according to what was discussed during the consultation.

Balayage Technique

Balayage is a hand-painted technique that can create a soft, subtle look – perfect for those looking to add dimension without harsh lines. It’s an intricate highlighting process of painting on hair color in varying degrees of darkness and lightness.

With balayage highlights:

  1. Complex highlights can be achieved with precision placement.
  2. Natural colors are created seamlessly.
  3. Hair color looks more vibrant and dimensional.
  4. The entire process takes as long as foil techniques or longer depending on the desired results, making it ideal for achieving bolder looks without sacrificing time efficiency!

Balayage provides great flexibility when creating unique hair color styles while still maintaining the natural movement and texture of the hair throughout its application – delivering the best possible outcome in terms of both style and longevity!

Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Get Highlights

Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Get Highlights
Getting highlights can be a time-consuming process depending on various factors such as hair type and length, porosity of the hair, desired color, and lightening level. It’s important to consider all these elements when scheduling an appointment so you know exactly how long it will take for your stylist to create the look you want.

Hair Type and Length

Your hair type and length can have an impact on the time it takes to get highlights. Longer styles may take up to twice as long compared to shorter ones. Generally, medium-length is ideal for basic highlighting techniques such as foils or cap highlights.

However, different types of hair may require longer processing times because they are harder for colorists at a salon to work with.

Additionally, if you’re looking into more creative options like balayage or ombré, then plan on extra time being needed due to their more intricate application methods.

Porosity of Hair

The porosity of your hair is a key factor in determining how long it will take to receive highlights. Low porosity hair can be more challenging to color and may require additional time for the dye or bleach to process properly.

Hair with higher levels of moisture, on the other hand, tends to absorb color quickly and takes less time overall.

If you have naturally healthy or recently color-treated hair, let your stylist know so they can adjust their timing accordingly. This will help ensure that your highlights look as beautiful as possible! Highlighting techniques such as balayage also play an important role in processing times.

Each technique requires different application methods, which affect how much time needs to be allocated for coloring services.

Discussing these options with a professional ahead of time ensures that you’ll get results without sacrificing quality and longevity.

Desired Color and Lightening Level

Your desired color and lightening level will determine how quickly you can make a statement with your new highlights. Whether you’re looking for long, light blonde highlights or darker hues, the amount of hair dye and oxidizing agent used to achieve the look will affect processing time.

While natural blondes may require less time than brunettes going lighter, all colors need proper care after treatment to keep them lasting longer. The stylist should take into account your desired outcome before starting so they can provide an accurate estimate of how long it’ll take for each step of the process.

Additionally, some colors may require custom mixing, which takes extra minutes but results in more vibrant hues that last even longer!

The Science Behind the Highlighting Process

The Science Behind the Highlighting Process
Getting highlights is more than just a fashion statement; it’s a science. From lifting the natural color to processing and customizing your desired shade, there are many steps involved in getting beautiful highlights that will last.

Additionally, caring for your hair after the process is key to making sure you get maximum longevity out of those locks! Let’s take a closer look at each step so you can make an informed decision on when and how often to get highlighted.

Lifting the Natural Color

Lift your locks to a lighter hue with ease – balayage highlights sweep you away from the stress of time constraints. Darker hair colors take longer to lighten, but professional experience can help ensure even results for colored and natural hair.

Lighter highlights are achieved quickly on already-lightened or blonde strands. The process is tailored depending on the desired look. Sectioning techniques affect overall time required and multiple formulas may be needed if there is more than one color involved in your transformation.

Time and Processing

You can expect your highlighting appointment to run anywhere from 30 minutes for partial highlights to several hours, depending on the desired results and factors such as hair type and porosity. Foil highlights take 2+ hours; cap highlights require 2-4 hours; balayage takes as long as foils.

Customizing Your Color

When customizing your color, consulting with a professional can ensure you get the look that’s just right for you. With their expertise and knowledge of highlighting techniques, they’ll work with you to create a standout style – whether it be subtle or bold.

Curly hair requires more careful placement; gray and white hairs need extra processing time; darker shades may require multiple formulas. A pro will help tailor highlights for each unique hair type, revealing subtle tones that bring out natural beauty without the harshness associated with traditional foils.

Don’t forget aftercare tips like avoiding chlorine exposure to keep color looking fresh!

Hair Type Technique Time Required
Curly Hair –> Careful Placement —> 2+ Hours
Gray & White Hairs –> Extra Processing —> 2-4 Hours
Darker Shades –> Multiple Formulas —> 3+ Hours

Caring for Your Hair Post-Process

After highlighting, take steps to keep your hair looking its best. Use color-safe shampoo and conditioner. For damaged strands, apply a deep conditioning alkaline agent or hair mask for lasting color protection from the sun and chlorine.

When heat styling, be sure to use protectant products to avoid further damage while maintaining the vibrancy of highlights.

How to Take Care of Your Highlights

How to Take Care of Your Highlights
Getting your hair highlighted is an exciting beauty treatment that can help you achieve a stunning new look. However, it’s important to remember the aftercare in order to maintain those highlights for the long run.

Washing with cool water and color-safe shampoo, using protectants if heat styling, wrapping at night, and limiting washes all contribute to keeping your highlights looking great for longer periods of time.


Luxuriate in your locks by washing with cool water and color-safe shampoo to keep your highlights looking fresh. At home, DIY hair care can be done with ease – avoid hot water or excessive scrubbing that could strip away the highlight shade.

To prolong the life of individual foils, try a weekly deep conditioning mask for hydration and protection from environmental damage caused by sun exposure or chlorine.

When drying highlighted strands, always use the cold air setting on the blowdryer and wrap up hair at night to maintain shape while sleeping! Use these tips for longer-lasting results:

  • Avoid chlorinated pools.
  • Protect against heat styling.
  • Air dry if possible.
  • Limit washes throughout the week.

By following these steps, you can rest assured knowing that your beautiful highlights will last!

Using Color-Safe Products

Protect your highlights by using color-safe shampoo and deep conditioning regularly to keep them looking vibrant! Hair follicles will naturally absorb the desired color faster than undesired colors, but regular use of these products helps preserve both.

Color-safe shampoos contain fewer harsh chemicals that can strip away dye molecules from hair strands. Deep conditioners also help keep hair healthy while locking in moisture for a longer-lasting look.

Touch-ups and Maintenance

Maintain the vibrancy of your highlights by touching up growth every 4-6 weeks for best results. For short hair, you’ll be able to get away with fewer touch-ups; however, medium length and longer hair will require more frequent visits.

Professional hairstylists have a set rule: no matter what style or color you choose, regular trims and coloring are recommended for optimal maintenance.

Don’t forget – there’s power in mastering the upkeep of your own look, so don’t hesitate to take charge now!

How Long Will You Be at the Salon?

How Long Will You Be at the Salon
Experience the beauty of highlights with a visit to the salon that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on your hair type and desired look.

There are several factors that affect how long you’ll be at the salon:

  1. The type of highlight technique used – Foil highlights take 2+ hours for full head application, while Balayage is usually as long as foil highlighting but hand-painted away from the scalp for a soft look.
  2. Darker shades will take a longer time compared to lighter colors – light blonde hair may only need 1 hour whereas black color will require up to 3 hours.
  3. Hair porosity affects processing time – low porosity takes more effort and less porous hair absorbs quicker than damaged ones.
  4. Multiple formulas or steps add extra minutes in the coloring process too!

No matter which favorite blonde highlighting technique is chosen, it’s important not to forget about aftercare so that your amazing new base bump stands out for weeks between touchups! Avoid chlorine/sun exposure, use cool water & color-safe shampoo when washing (less often!), deep condition hydrated locks, and apply a protectant if styling with heat tools – these items help keep those gorgeous strands looking their best until the next appointment arrives!

How to Make Highlights Last Longer

How to Make Highlights Last Longer
Ready to get those luscious locks? To make sure your highlights last as long as possible, it’s important to take the right care of them. Avoid exposure to both the sun and chlorine, use cool water along with color-safe shampoo when washing your hair, and deep condition for hydration.

Heat styling should also be protected against with a protectant product specifically designed for this purpose.

Avoiding Sun and Chlorine Exposure

Avoid sun and chlorine exposure to keep your highlights looking vibrant! A good rule of thumb is to minimize time spent in direct sunlight and wear a hat or scarf when necessary. Chlorine can cause fading of color-treated hair, so it’s important to rinse with cool water before swimming and condition afterwards.

During an initial consultation, the time required for highlighting will be discussed – usually 2+ hours depending on the technique used. If multiple colors are being used, this may take longer but could also be shorter depending on hair texture/length, etc.

Using Cool Water and Color-Safe Shampoo

For lasting color, ensure you wash your hair with cool water and a color-safe shampoo to gently cleanse while protecting the highlights.

  • Use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners formulated specifically for colored hair.
  • Avoid using hot water as it can strip away some of the highlight tones from your strands.
  • Invest in regular deep conditioning treatments which will help keep the integrity of both lightened or darkened locks through different factors such as experience level, the right highlight shade, and even hair’s length!

Deep Conditioning and Hydration

To keep your highlights looking vibrant, regularly deep condition and hydrate your hair with a moisturizing treatment—it’s like giving it a refreshing drink of water! Whether you opt for the cap method, a complex highlighting mixture, or a dramatic balayage transformation, this is the best way to ensure long-lasting results.

Make sure to wrap your hair at night and apply an extra layer of protection if heat styling—these simple steps will help maintain that fresh look after each salon visit.

Protecting Hair From Heat Styling

Protect your highlights with a heat protectant before styling to ensure they stay vibrant and last longer. It’s especially important if you have blonde hair, as it tends to fade faster than other colors.

Applying a protectant when in the stylist’s chair is always a good idea! This will help reduce how often you need to visit for touch-ups, saving time and money while preserving people’s hair health. Heat protection prevents breakage from heated tools so your color stays bright between salon visits.

At-Home Highlighting Options

At-Home Highlighting Options
If you’re looking to add some highlights to your hair but don’t want the commitment of a salon visit, at-home highlighting is a great choice. There are several basic color options and techniques available on the market that can be tailored to individual needs.

To get started, choose flattering shades for your skin tone and select one of these common techniques: foils, cap highlights, or balayage/ombré. Foils offer precise placement while cap highlights work well with thick hair. Balayage/ombré is hand-painted away from the scalp for softer look results.

For quick touch-ups, there are also partial highlight kits which take 30-45 minutes and are only done on the top and sides of the head.

As with all coloring treatments, follow stylist advice and aftercare tips such as avoiding chlorine exposure, using cool water washes, and deep conditioning damaged strands regularly in order to keep the color lasting longer between touch-ups – usually 4-6 weeks apart depending on the length growth cycles and desired maintenance plan going forward!

How Often You Should Get Highlights

How Often You Should Get Highlights
You’ll want to touch up your highlights every 4-6 weeks for the best results, so you can keep rocking that sun-kissed look.

That said, how long does it take to get highlights? Depending on technique and hair type, a full head of traditional foils can take 2+ hours while partial highlights could be done in as little as 30 minutes.

Balayage takes just as long but is hand-painted away from the scalp for a softer result – perfect if you’re trying to avoid lunch plans!

For similar results without spending all day in the chair, cap highlighting may be the way forward with color processing times between 2-4 hours. However, this depends on factors like existing color levels and porosity too. Darker tresses will need longer than lighter shades or virgin locks, which absorb dye quickly.

Additionally, mixing formulas or multiple steps add time also, so make sure you chat with your stylist beforehand about what’s achievable within any given timeframe – otherwise, there might be an undesirable outcome waiting at the end!

Tips for Taking Care of Highlighted Hair

Tips for Taking Care of Highlighted Hair
To keep those lovely locks lusciously highlighted, it’s essential to take proper post-processing precautions!

To ensure long-lasting color and prevent fading, use protective styling techniques when possible.

Deep conditioning masks and nourishing treatments will help protect hair from damage caused by heat styling or chlorine exposure. Additionally, using moisturizing treatments will help lock in moisture while keeping your hair healthy and hydrated.

For added protection against environmental factors that can cause fading or discoloration of highlights, apply a heat protectant spray prior to blow-drying or flat ironing.

Finally, invest in quality products designed specifically for color-treated hair as they often contain additional ingredients that provide extra benefits such as UV filters, which help reduce sun damage effects on colored locks!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does my hair type affect how long it takes to get highlights?

Yes, your hair type affects how long it takes to get highlights. Colorists must consider texture, porosity, and pre-existing damage when deciding on the best technique for lasting color. Darker hair requires more time than lighter shades; damaged locks need extra TLC too! Book a consultation with your stylist for an accurate estimate of processing time.

Are there any risks associated with highlighting my hair?

Highlighting your hair can come with risks, such as scalp irritation or breakage. To reduce the chances of any unwanted effects, use high-quality products and techniques tailored to your hair type. A professional stylist will also be able to offer advice on aftercare for long-lasting color that won’t harm your locks.

How much should I expect to pay for highlights?

Prices for highlights vary, depending on the technique and your hair’s condition. Think of it as an investment in beauty: a little splurge can go a long way to transform your look.

Will I need to book an appointment for a touch-up?

Yes, touch-ups are necessary to maintain highlights; plan for every 4-6 weeks. Protect your color with cool water and color-safe shampoo – deep condition too! Consult a stylist on the time required and book extra if needed.

Follow their advice for a flattering look that lasts longer between appointments.

How can I ensure my highlights look natural?

To ensure your highlights look natural, choose a technique like balayage or partial foils. These methods create subtle and effortless looks that do not require frequent touch-ups.


Getting highlights is a great way to add dimension to your hair and can be done in a variety of ways. But one of the most important factors to consider before getting highlights is how long it will take.

Don’t worry – with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can get the highlights you want in a reasonable amount of time.

While some techniques like foil highlights and cap highlights may take up to four hours, others like balayage and partial highlights can be done in just 30 to 45 minutes. Keep in mind that the time it takes to get highlights will depend on your hair type, the desired color, and the lightening level.

To make your highlights last, be sure to use color-safe products, protect your hair from heat styling, and avoid sun and chlorine exposure. With the right care and maintenance, your highlights can last up to 4 to 6 weeks, so you can enjoy your new look for even longer.

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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.