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How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights?

Last updated Oct 24, 2023

If you're looking to spruce up your hair, highlights can be a great way to do it. They'll give your hair a deeper, more defined look and give it a bit of sparkle. However, one common question that comes to mind is, "How long does it take to get highlights?" This article will delve into the details of getting highlights and tell you how long it takes. So keep reading to find out more!

What Are Highlights?


Highlights are basically a way to add a lighter shade of hair color to your natural color. They're usually used to add some contrast and give your hair a sun-kissed appearance. Additionally, highlights are highly customizable and can be tailored to the individual's style and preferences.

The Highlights Process

Now, let's break down the highlighting process:


The first step to achieving highlights is a consultation with a professional stylist. During this discussion, you will talk about your desired look, hair type, and care. This step is important to determine the time needed for your highlights.

Prepare your hair

Before starting the highlighting process, your hair will be washed and combed to make sure it is clean and tangle-free.

Section your hair

Your stylist will split your hair into sections to work on each section individually. The amount of time it takes varies depending on the intricacy of the highlight you have selected.

Apply the highlights

Highlights are applied in a variety of ways, including foils, hand painting, and caps. Each technique requires a different amount of time.


After the color has been applied, the hair must be processed. This process allows the color to mature and reach the desired hue. The processing time is usually between 20 minutes and one hour.


Once the processing time is complete, your hair will be rinsed, and toner may be applied to achieve the perfect shade.


After the highlights are complete, your stylist will dry and style your hair.

Factors That Determine Highlighting Time

The time it takes to highlight something can vary depending on several factors. Here are some key factors that can determine highlighting time:

1. Hair Length


Your hair length plays a major role in how long it takes to apply highlights. If your hair is longer, it may take longer to apply highlights than if it is shorter.

2. Desired Result

If you're looking for subtle, natural-looking highlights, this process may be quicker. However, if you want bold and dramatic results, it may take longer to get the perfect look.

3. Salon Expertise

Your hairstylist's experience is an important factor to consider. Skilled and experienced professionals tend to work more efficiently, reducing time spent in the salon.

4. Technique

The type of highlighting you use also has an impact on how long it takes to get highlights. Foil highlights can be precise, but they can be time-consuming, whereas balayage highlights can be done in a shorter amount of time.

5. Hair Color

If you have dark hair and desire lighter highlights, the process might take longer due to the need for multiple lighting sessions.

How Long Does It Take to Get Highlights?

Choosing different highlight techniques may take different amounts of time. Next, let’s take a look at how long it ultimately takes to get different highlight techniques.


Full Highlights: If you want to highlight your entire head, which involves adding highlights to your entire hair, it may take about 2-4 hours. This time frame may vary depending on the thickness and length of your hair.


Partial Highlights: Partial highlights, in which only certain parts of the hair are highlighted, typically take less time to complete. This can take between 1 and 2 hours.

Balayage Highlights: Balayage, a technique in which highlights are hand-painted onto your hair, can take a little longer than traditional highlights. This can take about 2-4 hours.

ombre hair

Ombre Highlights: Ombre involves a gradual transition from your natural hair color to a lighter shade, which can also take 2 to 4 hours.

Foil vs. Cap Highlights: Foil highlights are generally more time-consuming than cap highlights, as each section of hair is individually wrapped in foil. Cap highlights involve pulling strands of hair through a cap with holes and applying color, which can be quicker.

It is important to be aware that these are approximate estimates, and the time it takes to get highlights may vary depending on the salon, the stylist, and the individual's hair type and desired outcome. Additionally, if hair needs to be pre-lightened before the application of highlights, the duration may be longer.

Are Highlights Damaging To Hair?

Highlights can have the potential to cause harm to hair, however, this is largely dependent on how they are applied and managed. To reduce the risk of damage, it is recommended to consult with a qualified stylist who can evaluate the state of the hair and suggest a highlighting technique that is suitable for the individual.

Additionally, adhering to a consistent hair care regimen and utilizing products specifically formulated for hair that has been color-treated can help to maintain hair health and reduce the effects of highlights.

Final Thought

So how long does it take to get highlights? The answer is not fixed as it depends on a number of variables. For a more accurate estimate, it's best to consult with a professional stylist who can assess your specific needs and provide a more precise time frame for your highlighting journey.

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