How long does a balayage take

By: | Last Updated: April 15, 2022

So, you finally decided that a balayage would look good on you. Great! 

On to the next step: setting a balayage appointment. But… how long does a balayage appointment take?

You probably have such a tight schedule that you have to plan everything on the dot. 

Short Answer: It takes 3-5 hours. But it depends on a lot of factors.

Worry not! 

Read on to know how long it takes to get a balayage, depending on your unique hair type.

After reading this article, you will have the answer to the following questions:

  • What happens during a balayage appointment?
  • How long does a balayage take to process?
  • How long does a partial balayage take?
  • How long does balayage take on dark hair?
  • How long does balayage take on virgin hair?
  • How long does a balayage take on long hair?
  • How long does a balayage take on short hair?
  • How long does a balayage take to grow out?

The balayage process

The balayage process

To properly estimate how long a balayage takes, it will be helpful to know what usually happens during a balayage appointment.

1. Consultation

This is the part in which you discuss with your stylist about the end result that you want. 

The stylist will also evaluate your hair at this point. They may ask how often you use heating techniques to style your hair, which way you part your hair, etc. 

2. Sectioning and hand-painting

Once you both agree on a color plan, your stylist will formulate a lightening mixture, and the painting process begins. 

Expect the stylist to work on your hair section by section, covering each finished section with cotton or saran wrap so that the bleach doesn’t bleed on other sections.

3. Applying heat (for faster lightening of strands)

As soon as the stylist finishes hand painting your hair with bleach, you will be asked to sit under a dryer. 

The dryer applies indirect heat to your hair to speed up the lightening process. If you have fragile hair or are aiming for subtle highlights, you may skip this step.

4. Rinsing and treating

When your hair finally reaches the perfect shade, the stylist will bring you to the rinsing station to rinse your hair.

Afterward, they will apply a treatment like Olaplex to restore the protein bonds in your hair.

5. Toning

Even after rigorous bleaching, your hair may still not be in the tone you are looking for.

To fix this, your stylist will apply gloss or toner to your hair. This process will adjust the undertones of your hair. 

If you are going for a golden look, choose an overall warm tone. If you are going for an ashy look, you would want cooler tones.

The toner will sit for a while on your hair. Once your hair achieves the perfect tone, you will be shampooed and conditioned.

How long does a balayage take to process?

The main question that we are trying to answer in this article is, “How long does it take to get a balayage done?”

Short answer: It depends.

On average, a full balayage can take up to 3 to 5 hours. But other more experienced stylists claim that they can do a full balayage in 1.5 to 3 hours

However, remember that so many factors could affect the length of time it takes to do a balayage.

First, your hair length. Just like any other hair treatment, the balayage process takes more time on longer and thicker hair. 

Also, a balayage on long hair may be more expensive since it uses more resources like bleach and shampoo.

Second, your hair’s base color. If you come into a salon with previously bleached hair, it might be easier for the stylist to bleach your hair a lighter color, especially if that is the look you are aiming for.

However, if you request a balayage with your naturally dark hair, expect to stay in the salon for a little longer because you might have to undergo multiple bleaching processes.

Since the balayage technique focuses on “lightening” the hair, bleaching is the default process.

So, if you have naturally blonde hair, you will need a reverse balayage. Reverse balayage involves painting the hair with a darker color to achieve the same results: darker roots and lighter tips.

The third factor you have to consider is the kind of balayage you aim for. 

If you started with dark brown hair and you want a platinum blonde balayage, the process will take longer than usual. 

Finally, the skill and expertise of your stylist can also affect the length of your balayage process.

More experienced stylists have already developed techniques that make them more efficient than newbie stylists, so they finish faster.

All the previously mentioned differences contribute to the amount of time it takes to finish your balayage.

Each balayage is unique since the technique involves freehand painting and manual selection of strands to be lightened. Therefore, the time it takes to do it largely varies as well. 

How long does a partial balayage take?

Before answering this question, let us first ask: What is a partial balayage?

A full balayage means hand painting all of your hair. Meanwhile, a partial balayage only applies to the top/outer layer of the hair. In a partial balayage, the underlying layers remain a solid color.

This means that a partial balayage takes less time than a full balayage. If a full balayage takes 3 hours on average, then a partial balayage may take more or less than 1.5 hours.

Some claim to finish a partial balayage in as quick as 45 minutes. But then again, this largely depends on the factors I mentioned in the first section of this article.

How long does balayage take on dark hair?

How long does balayage take on dark hair

In essence, balayage is the process of lightening the hair in sweeping motions. As such, balayage involves bleaching.

For those with dark hair color, expect to spend more time on the bleaching process.

If you want a drastically lighter shade compared to your natural hair color, you might take more than 2 hours in the bleaching process alone.

Expect to spend extra time on the salon chair if you want an unnatural balayage, like pink or blue.

This kind of balayage involves bleaching your hair to the lightest shade possible and then dyeing it with your preferred color. The process of dyeing takes up extra time.

To answer the question: if a full balayage takes 3 to 5 hours on average, then a balayage on dark hair is estimated to be in the latter part of that range.

How long does balayage take on virgin hair?

It depends on what your “virgin hair” looks like. If your virgin hair is a dark color, like brown or black, refer to this article’s previous section.

For those with natural red hair, bleaching the ends while retaining the red roots is the most common style for you.

This looks great, especially when the tone of the lightened hair matches the warmth of your natural red hair. To perfectly match the warm tones of red hair, the stylist may have to take more time in the toning stage.

Essentially, red-haired girls will undergo the normal balayage process but expect to spend additional time perfecting the tones of their bleached hair.

Meanwhile, the balayage process will be different if you have naturally blonde hair.

As mentioned earlier, there is a thing called reverse balayage. Instead of lightening the tips, the stylist dyes the roots with a darker color. 

This process still involves the freehand painting technique and the meticulous selection of strands to be painted. In the end, it still provides the same results as regular balayage–darker roots, lighter tips.

In conclusion, I cannot directly answer how long balayage takes on virgin hair because so many factors have to be considered.

But, for better estimation, it is safe to remember that the average timeframe of a full balayage process is 3 to 5 hours.

How long does a balayage take on long hair?

How long does a balayage take on long hair

I cannot directly answer this question because we have to consider several factors. However, I think it is safe to say that balayage takes more time on longer hair.

Additional factors include the natural hair color and the type of balayage the client wants to achieve.

If you have long dark hair, expect to stay in the salon chair longer than usual. 

How long does a balayage take on short hair?

With shorter hair, there will be less areas to work on. If you have jaw-length hair and want simple highlights, you may spend a little over an hour in the salon.

If you want to dye your balayage a vibrant, unnatural color, like purple or red, it may take longer.

If you have short hair, your balayage process will be faster than the average timeframe of 3 to 5 hours.

How long does a balayage take to grow out?

With proper maintenance, a balayage will last for 3 to 4 months. After this period, you have to set another balayage appointment to maintain your gorgeous sun-kissed locks.

If you think your balayage requires a minimal touch-up after 3 months, you may opt for a partial balayage. Then, after another three months, you can get a full balayage again. 

CHECK OUT: Shadow root vs balayage

It depends!

So many factors come into play in estimating the amount of time a balayage takes.

At the end of the day, only you can estimate how much time the stylist will spend in perfecting your balayage.

In sum, the length of the process highly depends on your hair’s length and natural color and the kind of balayage that you want to achieve.

I hope I’ve helped you in scheduling your next balayage appointment. Go get those sunkissed curls, girl!

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