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How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights? | Not Long!

So you’re considering some highlights in your hair. You’ve probably heard that it’s a process that takes a few hours in the salon, but is that really the case?

Highlights can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the color and the technique used. It all depends on the desired outcome and your hair type.

This guide will give you an overview of the highlights process, from start to finish. We’ll also let you know how long it typically takes to get the highlights you want.

How Long Will You Be at the Salon?

So how long does it take to get highlights? Well, the answer to that depends on a few different factors. The type of highlights you’re getting is one factor to consider. Are you going for a full or partial traditional highlight, balayage, or ombre?

The length and thickness of your hair are another consideration. And, of course, the salon’s schedule will also influence how long your highlights will take to complete. However, generally speaking, you can expect to wait between two and four hours for highlights.

It’s always best to call ahead and speak with the salon staff so they can give you a more specific timeframe. Some hair salons offer free consultations, which may help to speed up the highlight process during your salon visit.

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Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Get Highlights

The overall amount of time depends on a few different factors. The most important one is the color of your hair when starting the highlighting process. If you have dark hair, it’ll take longer to lighten it than if you have light hair already when going into the salon.

The other major factor is the technique your stylist uses. If they’re using foils for a full or partial highlight, it’ll take longer than if they’re using hair dye to color your whole head.

If they’re using a color that’s not in their standard palette, it’ll take even longer, as the stylist will have to formulate a color that will match what you’re looking for.

Generally speaking, highlights should take about two hours from start to finish. Of course, this can vary depending on the salon, the stylist, and how busy they are when you go in.

How to Make Highlights Last Longer

Woman blow-drying her hair with a round brush while standing in a bath robe

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Highlights can last anywhere from 4-6 weeks, but there are a few things you can do to make them last a bit longer.

  • First, avoid washing your hair with hot water, as it will quickly fade your highlights.
  • Second, use a cool air setting on your hair dryer when styling it. Avoid using too many heat-styling products, as they can also fade your highlights.
  • Finally, if you can, extend the amount of time between washing your hair. Even color-safe shampoos have chemicals that strip the hair to clean it, and washing your hair more often than is necessary will make color and toner come out each time.

If your highlights are super light blonde and you’d like to keep them looking bright between salon visits, you can ask your stylist about a purple shampoo or toning mask for your hair. If you follow these tips, you should be able to extend the life of your highlights by a few weeks.

Keep in mind that depending on the highlighting technique you and your stylist decide to use, your highlights will begin to look grown out after a while, no matter how much you take care of your hair.

At-Home Highlighting Options

Of course, some at-home highlighting options are available to you if you don’t want to spend that much time in a salon. For example, you could try using hair chalk or hair paint to add some temporary highlights yourself.

You can also use at-home bleach kits and a unique highlight cap. These caps allow you to pull small strands of hair through the material while fkeeping the rest of your hair safe. You can apply dye or bleach to the hair over the cap, rinse it when it’s done processing, and viola! You have highlights.

Other highlight kits include special brushes or other tools to help you achieve the look you’re going for, including being able to give yourself a balayage if you have the time and patience to do it.

Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid any contact with your scalp since these products can be a little bit harsh. Not all boxed hair color contains the same ingredients, and many don’t list the volume of the developer used in the kit, so always watch your hair so you can rinse it when you need to!

Read Next: The Best Box Hair Dyes to Buy in 2024

How Often You Should Get Highlights

Woman in a salon getting hair higlights

Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock

How often you should get highlights depends on your hair type and how quickly your hair grows, but as a general rule, most people would say every six to eight weeks.

This schedule will ensure that your highlights look their best and don’t start to look faded or brassy since your stylist can add more toner to your hair to refresh the lighter parts.

You can get your roots retouched without having to color all your hair again unless you’re trying to go lighter than your hair was previously able to get. Plus, getting highlights every six to eight weeks is an excellent way to keep your hair looking healthy and shiny.

All hair color, even if it isn’t bleach, causes minimal damage every time it’s used. Regular trims and highlights are the key to avoiding bad hair days, visible damage, and split ends!

Tips for Taking Care of Highlighted Hair

You just got your highlights and are dying to know how to take care of them, so they stay looking shiny and vibrant. Well, you’re in luck because we’ve got some tips for you while you’re in between salon appointments.

First, avoid washing your hair daily, as this will strip the color and fade your highlights. Instead, try to wash your hair every other day at most. If you can go even longer than two days between washes without your hair appearing oily and greasy, that’s even better!

When you do shampoo, make sure to use a gentle, color-safe shampoo that won’t strip away your color. Be sure to condition your hair after every shampoo, too. This will help keep it healthy and shiny by sealing the hair cuticle and locking moisture into your hair shaft.

Finally, try to avoid using too much heat on your hair. Excessive use of heat can also cause the color to fade. If you have to use heat, try applying a heat protectant spray to your hair while it’s still damp and before you use any heat styling tools (including your blow dryer!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Lady after getting hair highlights for a piece on how long does it take to get highlights

Shumskaya Tatiana/Shutterstock

Still have some questions? Here are some more insider tips about the highlighting process.

How long does a full head of highlights take?

A full head of highlights can take anywhere from two to four hours from start to finish, depending on the color technique being used by your stylist. Some techniques may require longer application times than others.

How long does it take to get foil highlights?

Foil highlights are incredibly time intensive, as each foil can only hold a small section of hair at a time to process correctly. Folding all these foils can take some time! The application process for a full head of foil highlights can take two or more hours. (This doesn’t include processing time or styling!)

How long does it take to get a partial highlight?

A partial highlight is usually done on just the top middle section of the head, allowing the hair’s outer layers to be colored as desired while leaving the layers underneath their natural or previous color. Partial highlights usually take 30-45 minutes to apply.

How long does it take to get a balayage?

The time required to get a balayage will generally be as long as getting foiled highlights. This can depend on your stylist, though, as some people will be more comfortable with one technique over another. Make sure to see what your stylist is most comfortable with when choosing one to perform your highlight service!

How long does it take to highlight black hair?

Dark and black hair can take quite some time to highlight. The application process won’t vary just because your hair is darker, but the processing time may be much longer, depending on the desired outcome. If you have black hair and want blonde highlights, you may need multiple appointments to get your hair as light as possible.

So, How Long Do Highlights Take?

It usually takes about two hours to get highlights done in a salon. However, this may vary and could take much longer depending on your hair length and thickness, the color technique used, your hair color history, and your desired result.

Consulting with your stylist before beginning the highlights is a must, especially if you’re short on time. Make sure you take something to entertain yourself to your appointment if necessary.

You may not be able to use it while the stylist is working, but some stylists don’t mind clients reading or doing something while staying still. Be sure to ask if you aren’t sure! The wait time will be worth your shiny new hair at the end!