How many times a year should you highlight your hair?

Updated April 17, 2017

Many individuals choose to change the colour of their hair by adding highlights to increase brightness and depth. Highlights can instantly spruce up the colour of your hair or subtly change it. Many individuals choose to get highlights done at a professional hair salon. Since the process can be costly, it is important to know how often you should highlight your hair. Whether you highlight your own hair or go to a salon, it is important to know how frequently you can do highlights without damaging your hair.


There are two basic forms of highlights: lowlights and highlights. Lowlights are darker shades that are highlighted or streaked into your hair. The colours can range from ash blonde to jet black. Usually lowlights are added to lighter hair colours for the purpose of adding depth and dimension. A popular trend is to do subtle lowlights on the top portion of your hair and do more dramatic lowlights underneath. Highlights are lighter shades that are streaked or highlighted into hair. The colours can range from platinum blonde to caramel shade.

Time Frame

If you go to the salon to get your hair done, you should allow two to three hours for highlighting, processing, cutting and styling. Typically, when you arrive in the salon, your stylist will consult with you and find out what kind of colour you are trying to achieve. After that is complete, your stylist will go into the back and mix up your hair colour and then return to put the highlights into your hair. Once the highlights have been applied, you will have to wait approximately 20 minutes to an hour for the product to develop and create the colour. Once that is complete, your hair will be washed, cut and then styled. If you highlight your own hair, set aside approximately four to five hours. This will give you extra time to correct any mistakes that may happen. However, remember it is likely you will only need two to three hours.


You and your stylist must take several factors into consideration prior to highlighting your hair. First, the condition of your hair must be evaluated. If your hair is very damaged it is likely that your stylist may want to use a gentler developer and highlighting powder. In addition, the stylist may encourage a deep conditioning treatment to help restore moisture to your hair following the highlights. Secondly, the colour of your hair must be evaluated. If you have virgin hair that has never been coloured before it is likely your stylist won't have as much of a challenge in achieving the colour that you want. However, if your hair is already coloured the stylist must evaluate what colours have been used in order to figure out which product will help you achieve the results you desire.


If you are getting highlights put into your hair, there are several warnings you should take into consideration. First, if your hair is colour treated and usually dry, highlighting will make it drier. This can lead to breakage and further hair damage. Secondly, if your hair is virgin hair it is important to understand that after getting highlights your hair may feel drier then it did before. This commonly occurs with any hair colour treatment.

Expert Insight

If you're planning on getting your hair highlighted, find a picture of an individual that has the colour that you are trying to achieve. This is especially important if you are going to a new hairstylist. Not only does it clearly show your stylist what you want but it gives her a visual example that can help achieve what you desire. If you are colouring your own hair at home, this will give you a visual to work with. Lastly, since hair colouring of any kind is damaging to your hair, baby your hair after your highlights. You can achieve optimal results by using alcohol-free products and deep conditioning at least once a week.

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