How long do highlights take?

If you are wondering how long do highlights take? It may be a surprise, but highlights can take a 2-4 hours depending on what type of highlights and how many you’re getting. I’ll start with how many highlights you’re getting.

How many highlights 

What I mean by how many highlights, I refer to sectioning of highlights. There is a full highlight and a partial highlight. A full highlight is a whole head of highlights (from back of the head to the front and sides) a partial highlight varies based on each stylist’s sectioning. I usually section a partial highlight the top of the head and hairline or the top and sides of the head. A partial takes less time than a full highlight, and depending on how thick and long the hair is, it can determine the time length also.

Amount of highlights in each section

Then there is the amount of folded foils (bleach or haircolor inside) put in each section. Some foils are stacked with no spaces in between them, or typically there can be 1/4-11/2 inch spacing between foils. The less space between each foil the more highlights there are and the longer amount of time it takes.

Foiled highlights

*Stylists may also use cotton, seran wrap, styrafoam sheets or nothing to separate each highlight section. The type of materials used is based on the type of highlights being performed: traditional (foil placed toward scalp),  bayalage, and ombré. Each type of highlights varies in time length based on the application process, to learn more click here> balayage, ombré, foliage…oh my!

Whats included in my services

Sometimes hairstylists include the consultation, mixing of formula, and blow dry time as a part of the service, others may not. Of course coming to your appointment prepared knowing what service you want comes in handy to start your appointment off.  

There are also times you have to factor in your appoinment like your stylist mixing one or more than one formulas. Then there is the processing time of the bleach and toner (5 min – 30 min).  If bleach is used to lift color lighter, the processing can take 45 min or more depending on the temperature of the room.

So after all this, the reason highlights can take 2-4 hrs is all that’s packed into the time frame; consultation, formulating, application, processing, possibly more formulating and processing and drying the hair. Hopefully this gives some insight on the process of highlights and how long it takes. Don’t get discouraged! Beauty can take work, but the results are amazing and well worth it!!


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