Nationally, the average price for hair coloring and highlights is $60 – $130. The type of coloring service – all-over color, balayage, highlights, or lowlights – affects the total cost of the styling.
Hair stylists almost always offer both hair cutting and coloring services, but some specialize in coloring and highlights. Hair professionals will first consider your natural hair color and desired look before determining whether to provide all-over color, balayage, highlights or lowlights.
Highlights can take your hair from mousy to marvelous. Artfully-placed highlights will bring lightness to your face, add depth and extra dimension to your hair, and will elevate your personal style. Whether you opt for a root touch up, partial highlights, full highlights, or Balayage, there’s a technique for you! Let’s explore.
What’s in this cost guide?
What Affects the Cost of Highlights?
Several factors will affect the cost of highlights, including the condition of your hair, previous chemical treatments, your natural hair color, and the techniques used.
For example, partial highlights (usually concentrated on the hair in the front and top of the head) cost less than full-head highlights. Balayage (French for “hair painting”) is a technique for highlighting in which the dye is freehand painted create a graduated effect of darker to lighter strands. Balayage is usually more expensive than traditional highlights, as not all professionals know how to do this specialized technique.
Hair condition and previous chemical treatment
Center Stage Designs owner Janis Leffler charges a flat rate for hair coloring services. That rate can increase if the condition of the client’s hair requires a lot of extra time, needs color correction, dye or hair treatments to get it to the client’s desired look.
For example, if a client needs a deep conditioning treatment, Leffler offers one from Brazilian Blowout for an additional $50.
Natural hair color
People with naturally black to dark blonde hair (levels 1 – 6, in industry speak), and those who have had highlights before may want to have the base (roots) colored to mask the contrast between roots and highlighted sections of hair.
For example, Leffler of Center Stage Designs charges the following flat rates:
Flat Rates for Hair Coloring Services
- Base: $40 – $75
- Highlights: $50 – $95
- Toner: $20 – $40
Additionally, some stylists charge more to color naturally blonde hair versus color-treated brunette hair—a difference of about $20 more for blondes nationwide.
Some stylists charge more to color longer hair, primarily to recoup the cost of additional dye products needed.
For example, clients with very long hair at Leffler of Center Stage Designs pay about $10 – $20 more to cover the cost of extra products used.
Balayage typically costs more because it takes the stylist more time and skill to achieve. Rates for Balayage are often based on the specific technique needed to achieve the end look, the number of formulas (hair dyes mixed by the stylist) needed, and the customer’s hair length and hair density. It’s a good idea to consult with a stylist in person to discuss the look you want, so they can create a custom price quote.
For example, at Hair and Makeup by Sharlene, boutique owner Sharlene Mitchell charges $90 and up for the Balayage technique.
What are Partial Highlights?
Partial highlights refer to highlights applied to only certain parts of your hair. Opt for partial highlights when you’re looking for a more subtle change to your hair color, or if you’re looking for adding a few strands of bright color.
Partial highlights are typically less expensive than full highlights.
Hair and Makeup by Sharlene at The Boutique Salon charges the following flat rates:
Cost of Partial Highlights vs. Full Highlights
- All-over color: $70
- Partial highlights: $75
- Full highlights: $85
How Much Does Balayage Cost?
Expect to pay between $150 and $200 for balayage coloring. Balayage is a technique that allows the stylist to create a gradual, natural-looking highlight by painting the dye onto the hair in in a sweeping pattern.
With this technique, the transition between dark and light hair colors will be longer and therefore more natural looking. Because balayage takes a bit longer and requires more labor, this style of hair coloring is often pricier.
How to Find a Salon
Finding the right salon is serious business! After all, your hair is your crowning jewel, so making sure it looks great is of the utmost importance. Here are our tips for finding the right local salon for you:
- Ask for a consultation: Prior to jumping into color services, ask the hairstylist for a consultation. This ensures that both you and the stylist are on the same page!
- Determine your budget: Figure out how much you have to spend on professional highlights. Knowing your budget will help narrow your search for the perfect salon.
- Be realistic: If you’re looking to go from black to platinum blonde, be realistic in your expectations. A good stylist understands that in order to protect your hair, it will take several appointments to get you to your desired color.
- Look for reviews with photos: When it comes to your hair, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. Look online for hair color reviews of the salon with photos of previous clients. If you’re not loving what you see in the photos, keep looking!
How to Save Money on Highlights
Here at Thumbtack, we love helping our customers save money. Let’s explore a few cost-saving options when getting highlights:
- Buy a package deal: Some stylists offer package deals that combine hair coloring with cuts, color & highlights, or deep conditioning hair care treatments. If you’re looking to get multiple services, a package deal is where it’s at!
- Shampoo at home: It’s customary at most hair salons to tip the person who shampoos your hair. Skip the salon shampoo bowl and wash your hair at home before your appointment to avoid tipping.
- Don’t go to the owner of the salon: Salon owners are masters of their craft and will charge the highest price. Try out a junior stylist – most likely, they have been trained by the owner and will charge significantly less!
- Skip buying products: Hair products are one of the main revenue drivers for salons. Skip purchasing new hair products and your wallet will thank you!
Benefits of Professional Hair Coloring
While at-home color is always going to be a better bargain, it can be extremely damaging to your precious strands. Most at-home hair color is made up of metallic dyes, which are not only harder to control, but they also reactivate every time you reapply color. Yikes!
Professional hair color, on the other hand, is formulated with very little ammonia, making it far more gentle on the hair. Your stylist is also able to accurately adjust the level of developer used in your color, doing the smallest amount of damage possible.
Your professional hair stylist will only place color where you need it, and he or she can make recommendations about a great at-home regimen that will not only improve the look and feel of your hair but also help extend the life of your color.
It is a professional stylist’s job to not only educate their clients about what is best for their hair but also to bring professional, salon-quality techniques to the table. Always remember that your hair is an investment. The first visit may be costly because you are establishing the framework for your canvas moving forward. After that, as long as you follow the schedule your stylist suggests for maintaining your cut and color, you will actually find yourself spending less than if you did your hair at home. Win-win!