How Long Do Highlights Last? How To Keep Them Shimmering!

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There are various ways you can amp up your hair. One of them is getting highlights. They are a great option if you just want some subtle life in the color of your hair, or if you are new to coloring. 

Furthermore, highlights are trendy and they really improve your overall look by creating depth. That can make your hair look fuller and more luxurious! 

Before you go and get highlights, you might wonder “How long do highlights last?” Well, highlights can last for about 2-3 months. That’s longer than your usual hair color! We’ll explain why below. 

Additionally, we’ll also tell you how to prolong your highlights. But first, let’s start with what highlights do to your hair. 


What Are Highlights?


Highlights are hair strands that are lighter than the natural color of your hair. The highlights can be a few shades lighter than your hair, or you can go wild and choose something highly contrasting. 

Techniques in creating highlights vary. The traditional way is to use foil to get some strands of hair from various areas. These are the ones that are lightened by using bleach. A pattern between your darker hair and lighter highlights is created using the foil. 

Balayage is an example of a newer highlighting technique. With this method, the highlights are hand-painted. It can take a little while, but the results are amazing!

They are randomly created and blend more with the rest of the hair. This gives a more natural look.

How Long Do Highlights Last?

Balayage Highlight

Typically highlights last for 2 to 3 months. However, your highlights won’t turn back to the normal color of your hair when the time is up. That’s because highlighting involves the use of bleaching agents. 

The bleaching agents will permanently dissolve the melanin in the hair to create a lighter shade. Those hair strands that are bleached will remain lighter than the rest of your hair unless you color them the same shade as your natural hair. 

However, the new growth won’t be bleached. Those unbleached roots will become more obvious in about 2-3 months. 

The good thing is that some techniques make the highlights look natural even when the hair has already grown.

You can certainly still rock them!

How long your highlights last will depend on what highlights you get — not just on the technique used. 

Sometimes, using bleach is enough to give you great-looking highlights. However, bleaching isn’t the only procedure done on some highlighting procedures. 

Some hair professionals also use a toner or a hair dye over the bleached hair to hide the brassiness or change the color.

This gives the highlights a better appearance.

The effect of the hair toner or dye fades gradually. Although your hair won’t return to its natural color, it may not look as well as it did the day you got out of the salon because it can slowly turn brassy. 

You can help tone the brassiness and even prolong your highlight by using a toning shampoo .

That counters the yellowing undertones of the bleached hair strands.

How To Make Your Highlights Last Longer

Highlights usually use bleach  on the hair to lighten the shade. Although you’d want to keep your highlights beautiful, you wouldn’t want to bleach your hair often because it can cause dryness and breakage

The best thing you can do is to prolong the highlights so you won’t have to go back immediately for a touch-up. Here are a few things you can do:

Balayage vs Foil Highlights

As we’ve mentioned, highlights can be done by using the foil method or the Balayage method. If you want to prolong your highlights and rock them even if they already grow out, choose the Balayage method. 

The new hair growth tends to be more obvious on the foil technique rather than the Balayage.

That’s because the Balayage technique has a more natural look.

It isn’t quite noticeable even if the hair grows because there isn’t a harsh line between the bleached hair and the unbleached natural hair growth. 

Get An Ombre Or A Soft Ombre

Another way to keep your highlights looking snazzy is by getting an ombre. These are low-maintenance highlights because the lighter ones are found underneath. That prevents the new growth of hair from showing. 

A subtle ombre version is a great option for those who don’t want the dramatic ombre look. It still gives your hair depth but doesn’t look too over-the-top for your liking.

Shampoo Less

Shampoo can wash out the color that was introduced to your highlights to get it to that perfect shade. The shampoo cleanses the hair but it also strips the dye or toner and eventually fades it out. 

If you need to use shampoo or conditioner, it is best to select those that are color-safe .

They help keep the colors vibrant and prevent them from fading. 

Highlights For Your Natural Hair Color

New hair growth is one of the main things that can ruin your highlights. It exposes your natural hair color. 

If your highlights are a drastic change from your natural colors, then the new growth is more likely to be obvious. Choosing highlights that are only a few shades lighter will better blend with the natural color over the coming months. 

You don’t have to have high contrasting highlights to make an impact. Subtle highlights look nice too! And they are easier to maintain. 

Do Highlights Fade After Washing Your Hair?

Highlights are made by bleaching the hair so that it turns a shade lighter than the rest of your hair. Sometimes, a toner can be used to help get the right shade and to remove the unwanted brassiness of the hair. 

When I refer to highlights fading, this will typically refer to the effect of the toner that’s fading. As the highlights fade, they will start to appear more brassy than they were when you first got your highlights. 

If the highlighting process of your hair only involves bleach without any toner, the highlights wouldn’t fade back into the natural color of your hair. That’s because the pigments were removed during the highlight process and you can get back the pigments. 

If you used toner and find that your highlights are fading, have your hair toned again so it looks as great as the day you got the highlights. 

If you used toner and find that your highlights are fading, have your hair toned again so it looks as great as the day you got the highlights. 

How Often Should You Get Highlights Done?

Typically, highlights can last for 2-3 months, but as mentioned above — it depends on the technique. That’s the time when the roots of your highlights would have already grown and the natural hair color already shows.

However, with balayage highlights, the look will last longer because the highlights blend well with the hair. Even as you grow your hair, there wouldn’t be a drastic difference because of the balayage.

If you want to maintain your highlights, you can go back to the salon and have them retouched after 2-3 months so your stylist can work on the regrowth. 

In case your highlights seem to fade or change color because the effect of the toner already fades, you may go back sooner to your stylist. Some will advise you to use purple shampoo or a purple hair mask to help maintain the shade of your highlights and make them last longer.

Do Highlights Go Back To Your Natural Color?

The strands of hair that was bleached won’t go back to the hair’s natural color unless you recolor them. Bleaching is permanent.

Bleaching and highlighting involve removing the pigment in the hair. There is no way for those pigments to come back unless you use hair color or just wait for new hair to grow.

Final Thoughts

Hair highlights are a trend that isn’t ending soon. It gives your hair depth and improves its overall appearance. However, it doesn’t last forever. Typically it only lasts for 2-3 months until you have to go for a touch-up.

Even if your hair doesn’t return back to its natural color, the highlights may not look as good as before because the color has already faded or turned brassy. Additionally, the new growth on your hair may be obvious. 

The good thing is that there are ways you can prolong your highlights. Choose a Balayage instead of the foil method, get an ombre highlight, shampoo less, and choose highlight colors that are closer to your natural hair color. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).