Highlights cost between $20 and $200. Prices differ based on the different highlighting techniques, highlight color, hair length, your hair’s base color, and health of your hair. You’re also paying for your stylist’s expertise and skill, their high-quality products, and the time and effort it takes to get you to your desired color.
All of that to say — highlights are a lot of work! There are lots of terms, techniques, and methods you’ll need to learn so you can see why some highlights cost more than others. We know it’s a lot of information to take in, so we put together this quick guide to highlights costs along with some information to break down all of these cost factors.
How much are different types of highlights?
Highlights can range from $20 to $450 depending on what you get. Different types of highlights require different levels of product and skill to achieve. For example, a balayage is hand-painted onto your hair while traditional highlights use foil. Balayage can cost up to $450 or more, but won’t cost as much since you won’t need as many touch-ups later.
Keep in mind that prices can vary greatly based on the salon’s location, type of salon, and your colorist’s technique. Cost of living and the popularity of your salon or colorist can potentially drive up costs. High-end salons also tend to run at a higher cost than lower-end chains or some local salons.
We’ve summarized the costs of popular types of highlights below:
|Types of highlights||Cost|
|Additional color (like lowlights)||$20-$40 for each additional shade|
How much do highlights cost in each state?
Highlights cost can average between $65 and $270 in the United States, according to our internal appointment data. These ranges differ from the table above since we’re looking more broadly at the cost of highlights in general rather than diving into the nuances of the different types.
Below, you can see that North Dakota has the most expensive highlight appointments while Montana has the least expensive.
|State||Average appointment cost|
How does hair length impact cost?
Short hair is cheaper to highlight than long hair since it takes less time to color and uses less product. Additional services like wash, cut, and style can also run up your price quickly if you have long hair. Short hair can cost between $60 and $70 to highlight while applying highlights on long hair can cost between $90 and $150.
How does highlighting technique impact cost?
The more complex the technique, the more skill and time are needed to create your final look. Complexity comes at a higher high cost. However, these complex techniques are worth it if you want to walk out of the salon with natural and effortless-looking hair. Complex techniques include balayage and pintura highlights.
On the other hand, you can save some money if you get highlights that don’t require as much skill. Partial face-framing highlights can be enough to spice up your hair if you just want something subtle. The fewer products and time needed, the more you can save.
Certain highlights also need fewer touch-ups. For example, ombrés only add color to the bottom of your hair. This saves you the time and money you’d otherwise spend on root touch-ups.
Here’s a breakdown of common highlighting techniques:
- Partial highlights only cover part of your hair, like the ones that frame your face
- Full highlights add highlights all over your hair
- Balayage is hand-painted highlights that naturally blends with your hair
- Ombré is another hand-painted technique that mainly adds color to the bottom of your hair
- Sombré, or “soft ombré,” is a subtler version of an ombré
- Babylights are fine and subtle highlights that resemble the light hair color you may have had as a kid
- Lowlights darken your hair color and are normally applied to help blend and enhance your highlights
- Pintura highlights are another hand-painted technique where your stylist highlights individual curls
How do highlight colors and your starting hair color impact cost?
You can expect to pay more if your base color is far off from your desired color for your highlights. For example, getting caramel highlights on dark brown hair isn’t as difficult as getting blonde highlights on black hair. If you’re getting light highlights, you need to factor in the cost of bleaching your hair on top of the cost of coloring it.
You also need to consider the complexity of dyeing your base color. Red hair is especially difficult to dye since it’s most difficult to get rid of red pigments. Previously dyed hair can also be more difficult to highlight since your colorist is working with two (or more) hair colors. Expect to pay more if your colorist needs to color correct or use other treatments to prepare your hair for highlights.
What are the main highlighting methods?
Foil, cap, and freehand are the main highlighting methods you’ll find in salons. Costs vary between these methods since they all require different levels of skill and supplies. Your hair colorist will choose the best method to get the highlights you want, but it doesn’t hurt to learn more about why some are more difficult than others.
There are three main highlighting methods used:
- Foil involves sectioning off hair, applying color, and covering it with foil so that section doesn’t get color on other parts of your hair. This works best when you need to customize where highlights are placed and want to add highlights close to the scalp.
- Cap highlights use caps with small holes. Your colorist will pull hair through the holes to evenly color and highlight your hair. This method is faster than foil and a good option for short-to-medium-length hair.
- Freehand is when your colorist will hand-paint highlights on your hair, like with balayage or pintura highlights. Colorists need lots of experience with this technique.
How can I get the most value out of my highlights?
You can get the best value out of your highlights by consulting with your colorist, taking advantage of packages or promotions, educating yourself on the highlighting process, and prepping your hair before your appointment.
Here are the steps you should add to your list before you book your highlighting appointment:
- Finalize your budget to see what you can realistically afford
- Ask for a consultation so your colorist can evaluate your hair
- Find out how they charge, like if they charge per foil or by the hour
- Ask for a package deal, like if they include a cut and color package
- Wash your hair a couple days before to remove buildup and so your hair can more easily take in the color
- Brush and detangle hair before going in to save your colorist time
- Go to a beauty school or junior stylist if you trust their reviews and like what you see in their portfolios
- Understand how much effort it’ll take to highlight your hair so you can plan ahead
- Use color-safe hair products afterward to preserve your highlights
You shouldn’t pick your services or products solely by price. Low-quality dyes and other products may not last long, can look bad, and may even damage your hair. High-quality products can last longer and may save you money you’d spend on correcting your color later.
Are highlights worth it at the salon?
Highlights are worth it if you want complex highlights, a tricky color, or prefer entrusting the full process to a professional. Going to the salon first can save you from the Pinterest scrolling, Googling, trial and error, and cleaning that you’ll do at home when you try it yourself for the first time.
You also get great value from salons. They offer lots of treatments and highlighting options, have access to professional-grade products, give recommendations, and will make sure your hair looks great and is kept safe throughout your appointment.
For example, they have the experience to know how much dye and developer to use without overdoing it. If you’ve never colored your hair, you may damage your hair by applying too much dye or bleach.
Professional hair colorists and stylists have the training and experience to safely and correctly apply highlights to your hair. The key is to find someone you trust.
How can I find a good hair colorist and salon?
Find a good hair colorist by reading their reviews from their business profiles, looking through photos on their social accounts and portfolio, and getting recommendations from friends and family.
Seeing a colorist’s past work can give you a good idea of what they can do with your hair. You also want to find someone who’s worked with your hair type in the past. Highlighting dark and coily hair is very different from highlighting straight brunette hair.
A good hair colorist should also be able to walk you through the entire process and give you some hair color recommendations. They’ll even advise you when your hair isn’t healthy enough or when you need to do multiple sessions to get the highlights you want.
Taking the time to find a great hair colorist will help you make sure you walk out with highlights that look beautiful and natural while leaving your hair’s health intact.
Check out our directory of hair colorists in your area so you can find the best person for your highlights.