How Long Does Balayage Take?

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Balayage is all the rage at the moment, and with good reason! Finally, a highlighting hair treatment that looks more natural than traditional highlighting methods and blends seamlessly with newly-grown hair.

Balayage is a specialized technique that is best left to the professionals, so it begs to question: if this is so specialized, how long does balayage take?

The answer depends on the complexity of the balayage. Let’s dig into it now.


What is Balayage?

Balayage Comb

Balayage’ is taken from the French word for “sweeping“. It is a freehand coloring technique that brushes the color directly onto designated sections of the hair using paddles. The result is more natural-looking highlights.

We’re talking highlights that look like you just spent a summer at the beach, without the harsh contrast between the different shades that you get with traditional highlighting.

To start with, balayage is applied to sections near the top, but not at the roots. This results in thicker highlights at the ends of the hair.

Balayage is applied just on the surface of the section of hair, and not saturated all the way through the section until the very tips.

This gives you authentic-looking highlights that would get naturally from the sun.

How Long Does Balayage Take?

As balayage involves lightly hand-painting the surface of the hair, it depends on how many highlights you are going for.

A simple few Balayage highlights can take 45 minutes. But a complex, layered balayage can take up to three hours.

And depending on your goal, you may need multiple sessions to complete the look.

How Many Sessions Does Balayage Take?

The number of sessions will depend on the base color of your hair and on the color tone(s) of balayage you want.

Can You Do a Balayage In One Day?

If your hair is a light to medium tone, you can often get a balayage done in one session. If your hair is black or dark brown, and you are doing a balayage effect with complimenting medium/dark tones to give your hair a boost, that too should take one session.

But if you have black or dark brown hair and you want a blonde balayage, you may need two or three sittings. This will depend on the tone and complexity of the balayage you are trying to get.

The more you want to lift your hair color, the longer it will take.

How Long Does Balayage Last?

One of the main benefits of balayage is that you aren’t left with visible roots once as your hair grows out. It was designed to seamlessly blend into your hair so that it looks as natural when it’s first applied as it does while it grows out.

Balayage uses permanent color. The colored sections will grow out and fade as any other color would on your hair. But you don’t get the harsh regrowth lines and visible ‘roots’ of traditional dyes.

With balayage, you can go anywhere from 4-6 months without touching up, as opposed to the 4-6 weeks for foil highlights.

Is Balayage Bad For My Hair?

Because balayage highlights don’t involve completely saturating your hair in bleach or color dye, it’s a much less harsh process on the hair than other hair treatments that involve permanent hair color and bleaching.

That said, it’s still a process that involves color and/or bleach, which can damage and dry out the hair. But the good news is, we have some hair care tips for you to ensure your hair stays healthy and looks fabulous.

What’s the Difference Between Balayage and Highlights?

Balayage gives you a softer, more natural-looking result than traditional foil highlights. It is a freehand coloring technique, whereas traditional highlights usually use foils.

With balayage, re-growth is less noticeable, and the lines are more delicate. This results in a more natural sun-kissed look than the highlighted streaks you get from foil highlights.

With balayage, the brushed-on color doesn’t start at the roots. The highlight looks more natural while being very low-maintenance. Regrowth is never obvious.

This also means that it ends up being more cost-effective because you won’t have to head back to the salon every few weeks for root touch-ups.

What Looks Better, Balayage or Highlights?

Both have their advantages, and both can look beautiful. Balayage tends to have a more natural look, and lasts longer as well.

However, the process is more involved and typically more costly.

Does My Balayage Have to be Blonde?

When you think of balayage, a shade of blonde is definitely the most popular color. But balayage can be done with just about any color.

Balayage is great if you want to look like you’ve spent the last month in the tropics. But it can also be used to create more movement and dimension.

You can use almost any color and incorporate a mix of multi-tonal shades to add depth and texture to your hair. This results in an effortlessly natural look, without necessarily looking like you just stepped off the beach.

How to Take Care of my Balayage

If you take care of your hair properly after your balayage, you keep your hair healthy, prevent your highlights from fading and looking dull, and possibly extend the time between salon visits for touch ups.

When you wash your hair, you’re stripping it of its natural oils and dulling the balayage color. Your first step is to switch out your regular shampoo and conditioner for those meant for color treated hair.

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Try reducing your washes to 2-3 times a week and use a dry shampoo, like Aveeno Fresh Greens Blend Dry Shampoo  or Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo , in between washes if needed.

This will extend the life of your color.

It’s also essential to maintain healthy hair with a weekly deep conditioning treatment.

Final Thoughts

Balayage is a very complicated and specialized technique that you typically cannot do yourself. It’s going to require a salon professional colorist with experience doing balayage.

How long does balayage take? It will usually only require one visit that can last between 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the tonal complexity and the overall look you are trying to achieve.

If you have very dark hair and are going for blonde balayage, it may require more than one visit to the salon in order to get the sections to be balayaged to the correct tone where they are able to take the color you want.

The only way to know for sure how long balayage will take for your hair is to book a consultation with your colorist to discuss the best options for you. They will tell you how long the process will take and how many sessions you will need to get your desired results based on your hair.

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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).