Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Hair highlights can completely transform your look, adding dimension, brightness, and style to your hair. But before rushing off to the salon, it’s important to understand the costs involved so your new look doesn’t break the bank.

Keep reading to learn the average price range for highlights and what factors impact the final cost.

Highlight Summary

  • Full head highlights can range from $80 to over $300+ depending on hair length, colorist experience, and technique.
  • Critical factors affecting cost are the salon, hairstylist expertise, hair condition, highlight style and complexity of coloring services.
  • Prep your hair and consult with your colorist to determine the right highlights for your hair goals and budget.
  • Proper at-home care extends the life of your expensive highlights. Use color-safe hair products and get periodic toning treatments.
  • Find an experienced, reputable colorist specialized in your desired color and highlighting technique. Carefully choose your salon.
  • With strategic decisions, it’s possible to save on basic highlights without sacrificing a beautiful result.

How Much Do Hair Highlights Cost?

In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to over $300 for hair highlights, depending on your hair length and the complexity of the highlighting job. Here’s a breakdown of typical price ranges:

Long Hair Highlights

Full head highlights on long hair: $150 – $300+

Partial highlights on long hair: $100 – $200

Long hair requires more work, time and highlighting foils or balayage application to cover the entire head. Full head highlights on long locks often range from $200 to over $300 at high-end salons. Partial highlights on long hair generally range from $100 to $200.

Medium Length Hair Highlights

Full head highlights on medium hair: $100 – $250

Partial highlights on medium hair: $80 – $150

For medium length hair falling just above or below the shoulders, expect to pay $100 to $250 for full head highlights. Partial highlights on medium length hair tend to range from $80 to $150+.

Short Hair Highlights

Full head highlights on short hair: $80 – $150

Partial highlights on short hair: $50 – $100

With short hair, there are fewer foils or sections needed to cover the entire head. Thus full highlights on short hair tend to cost $80 to $150, while partial highlights on short locks run $50 to $100+.

According to Beardoholic, for example, here are some prices you should expect for different types of hair highlights:

  • Short hair highlights: $60 – $70
  • Longer hair highlights: $90 – $150
  • Babylights: $100 – $120
  • Balayage highlights: $100 – $150
  • Lowlights and additional colors: $20 – $40
  • Ombre highlights: $100 – $150+
  • Partial highlights: $20 – $55
  • Pintura highlights: $100 – $120+

The average cost of highlights is $20 to $200. The prices differ based on factors like the technique used, hair length, highlight color, your hair’s base colors, and the general health of your hair.

Mila’s Haircuts offers traditional highlights hair color for prices starting from $79 (2 to 3 hours).

A Reddit discussion noted that the cost of partial highlights and a trim (pre-tip) is $190-$220.

Hair By Nassi says that, on average, hair highlights cost about $105. However, if you plan on getting ombre highlights, babylights, or Balayage highlights, the price can go up considerably.

Different Types of Hair Highlights

Beyond hair length, the technique used to apply blonde highlights impacts the end cost. Common highlighting approaches include:

Foil Highlights: Color is applied to sections of hair sealed in foil. This is the most precise technique with a classic highlighted look.

Balayage Highlights: The color is painted directly on the hair with no foils, creating a diffused, natural look.

Ombre Highlights: Darker roots seamlessly fade to lighter ends for a soft, blended look.

Partial Highlights: Only sections of hair are highlighted, not the full head. Often done at the face-framing front pieces.

Each technique requires a different level of time, skill and artistry – all factors that influence the final price. For example, balayage is generally more expensive than traditional foils.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Hair Highlights

Now that you know the average prices, here are the key factors that determine where your highlights will fall within the range:

  • Salon: High-end salons charge more for services than chain salons. Boutique salons tend to range from $150 to $300+ for highlights.
  • Experience Level of Hairstylist: Master colorists charge top rates for their expertise, around $200 to $400+ for full highlights. Expect lower prices from assistants or less experienced stylists.
  • Hair Length and Thickness: Long, thick hair requires more product, time, and foils. Thin, short hair can be cheaper and quicker to highlight.
  • Highlighting Technique: Balayage, ombre, and advanced techniques cost more than standard foil highlights. Basic, partial highlights are cheaper than full head.
  • Color: Dramatic color changes like going from dark to light blonde incur added bleaching and hair care costs. Subtle highlights in your natural shade are simpler and cheaper.
  • Add-On Services: A haircut, deep conditioning, or toner treatment done the same day adds cost.

Preparing for Your Highlighting Session

Before your highlighting appointment, have a consultation with your hairstylist to discuss the look you want and your hair goals. Bring example photos and determine:

  • Which highlight coloring technique makes sense for the look you want – foils, balayage, ombre or a mix.
  • How dramatic you want to go – subtle face-framing highlights or an all-over brightening?
  • Your hair’s current condition – any damage or hair treatments needed to prep the hair?

This allows the stylist to give you an accurate quote and plan your ideal highlights. To prep your hair, avoid washing it 1-2 days pre-highlights so the color adheres best to any natural oils on your hair. Cleanly wash your hair beforeyour appointment. The hair should also be product-free and ready for highlights!

Maintaining Your Highlights

With the proper maintenance, your expensive highlights can look fresh for months. Be sure to:

  • Use color-safe shampoo and conditioner made for highlighted hair. Purple shampoo helps counter brassy tones.
  • Limit washing to 2-3 times per week to make the color last longer.
  • Use a deep conditioning hair mask 1-2 times a week to combat dryness from highlighting.
  • Return to the salon every 4-6 weeks for a toning gloss treatment to refresh faded highlights. This costs around $50-$100 to prolong your highlights between full appointments.

Following a diligent haircare routine keeps your highlights vibrant and extends the time between pricey salon visits.

Where to Get Your Hair Highlighted

Ash Blonde HighlightsThe salon and colorist you choose impacts the highlighting experience. Read online reviews and browse social media portfolios to find top colorists. Look for:

  • A salon specializing in coloring with experienced stylists.
  • A colorist with expertise in your desired technique – balayage, foils, etc.
  • Photos of hair similar to yours – hair type, base color, etc.
  • Consistent 5-star reviews praising coloring results.

Schedule a consultation before your first highlighting session. A trustworthy colorist will give realistic advice on possibilities, pricing and maintenance based on your hair goals and condition. Making the right salon choice ensures you get beautiful, worth-it highlights.

How to Spend Less on Highlights

If your budget is tight but you crave a highlighted hair boost, there are some ways to save:

  • Go for partial highlights just around your face instead of full head.
  • Choose subtle babylights for a delicate highlight effect vs dramatic full foils.
  • Book during salon promotional periods when they offer discount highlight specials.
  • Get highlights done at a cosmetology school for deeply reduced pricing from students.
  • Invest in an at-home highlighting kit from a drugstore. Exercise caution and read directions closely!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does your hair go back to normal after highlights?

Hair does gradually return to its natural color and tone after getting highlights, but the process can take several months. How long highlights last and how quickly your natural color comes back depends on several factors:

  • Your natural hair growth rate – faster growing hair will show roots sooner.
  • Type of highlights – foil highlights tend to grow out faster than subtly blended balayage.
  • Toning treatments – Getting periodic toner glosses helps preserve highlights and delay fadeout.
  • At-home care – Using color-safe shampoo keeps highlights vibrant longer vs regular shampoo.

You can expedite the grow-out process with root touch-up appointments every 4-6 weeks. For more dramatic changes like going blonde, it can take 6 months or longer for your hair to fully return to its original shade. But with patience, eventually your highlights will completely grow out and your hair will go back to normal.

Do highlights damage hair?

Here’s how to keep highlights from overly damaging your hair:

  • Get a personalized consultation to match the highlights to your hair health and condition.
  • Use Olaplex or similar bonding treatments during the coloring process to prevent breakage.
  • Avoid overprocessing the hair – only lighten it as much as needed to achieve the desired look.
  • Deep condition hair with a weekly mask to restore moisture and protein post-highlights.
  • Use a heat protectant before hot tools to minimize styling damage to highlighted hair.
  • Get regular trims to snip away any split ends and keep hair healthy.
  • Wait at least 6-8 weeks between highlight sessions to allow the hair to recover.

With the right precautions, thorough consultations, and aftercare, highlights cause minimal damage while giving you beautiful, bright hair.

Is it cheaper to highlight or dye hair?

Overall, it is generally cheaper to dye your hair a solid color versus getting highlights. Some reasons all-over dyeing costs less include:

  • It takes less time and materials – no need for meticulous foils and sections.
  • The application process is faster compared to highlighting each strand.
  • It requires fewer steps like pre-lightening and toning.
  • All-over color is easier to touch up your roots at home between salon visits.

However, other factors like your starting hair color, the specific dye color desired, salon pricing, and highlight technique impact the precise costs and which option is cheaper. Speak to your stylist during a consultation to determine the right choice for your hair and budget. While highlighting tends to cost more upfront, its dimensional effect may be worth the investment.

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