How Long Does it Take to Highlight Hair

How Long Does it Take to Highlight Hair? 2024

Have you ever wondered about the time it takes to achieve those perfect highlights that effortlessly elevate your look? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the intricate science behind the highlighting process, explore various techniques and their timelines, and provide tips to make the most out of your salon experience. Let’s dive into the details and answer the burning question: How long does it really take to highlight your hair?

The Science Behind the Highlighting Process

The Science Behind the Highlighting Process

Lifting the Natural Color

Understanding the timeline starts with unraveling the science behind highlights. Hair, primarily composed of keratin, holds melanin that determines its natural color. The lightening process involves applying a product with ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. The alkaline agent opens the hair cuticle, allowing the oxidizing agent to dissolve melanin, a process known as “lifting.”

Time and Processing

Careful monitoring of processing time is crucial and varies based on factors such as desired lightness, original hair color, and overall hair condition. Dark hair, containing more melanin, requires a longer processing time (typically 15 to 45 minutes), while lighter hair needs less time.

Customizing Your Color

To add a personalized touch, a toner can be applied after lightening to neutralize unwanted tones or introduce a specific color tint.

Caring for Your Hair Post-Process

Given that the highlighting process alters the hair structure, post-care is essential. Deep conditioning treatments help restore moisture and protein, ensuring your highlighted locks stay healthy and vibrant.

Different Highlighting Techniques, Different Timelines

Different Highlighting Techniques, Different Timelines

Foiled Highlights

When thinking of highlights, foiled highlights likely come to mind. This classic technique can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on factors such as hair length and thickness. Achieving blonde highlights or transforming dark hair into a lighter shade may require extra processing time.

Cap Technique

For those seeking a nostalgic 90s look, cap highlighting is a great option. The time invested here is generally less than foiling, averaging around 1 to 2 hours. However, it’s best suited for short to medium-length hair and may not be the ideal choice for very long hair.

Partial Highlight

For a quick pick-me-up, a partial highlight, focusing on specific areas like the hair framing your face or the crown, can typically be done in less than an hour. This is the perfect solution if you’re short on time.

Let’s Talk About Your Day

While getting highlights can be time-consuming, it’s essential to remember that good things come to those who wait. During your salon visit, expect a detailed examination of your hair, a discussion about the highlights you desire, and then the actual highlighting process. Depending on factors like the chosen method, hair length, and thickness, allocate approximately 1 to 3 hours at the salon.

Plan, Prep, and Prime

For optimal results, arrive with freshly washed hair and a clear idea of the highlights you desire. Consult with your stylist about what works best for your hair color and lifestyle. Remember, the goal is to enhance your natural beauty, not overshadow it.

Maximizing Your Processing Time

Maximizing Your Processing Time

Getting highlights isn’t just about the transformation; it’s also an opportunity for relaxation and pampering. Consider this time as your well-deserved break from the daily hustle. Bring a good book, catch up on social media, or engage in a pleasant chat with your stylist. Remember, the countdown to highlights doesn’t have to be a countdown to boredom – make the most of it!

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How long should full highlights take?

Full highlights generally take between 2 to 4 hours, influenced by factors such as hair length, highlighting method, desired lightness, stylist experience, and additional treatments.

How long does it take to get highlights and layers?

Full highlights take 2 to 4 hours, while layering can take 20 minutes to an hour. Expect to spend 3 to 5 hours for both services, varying based on factors like stylist speed and technique.

Do highlights or full color take longer?

Highlights tend to take longer (2 to 4 hours) than a single-process full color treatment (1 to 2 hours), influenced by hair color, desired results, techniques, and hair characteristics.


To sum it up, the duration for getting highlights varies based on techniques, hair length, and desired results. So, plan accordingly, set aside ample time, and embrace the journey to redefine your look. Remember, good things come to those who wait, and the countdown to highlights doesn’t have to be a countdown to boredom. Enjoy the entire experience, and get ready to flaunt your fabulous new look!

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