How Long do You Leave Foils in Your Hair (according to a professional hair stylist)

foil highlights

The average time that you should leave foils in your hair is 30 minutes.

Of course, the exact amount of time will depend primarily on two factors:

  • First, which technique you are using.
  • And second, your hair’s base color.


I’m going to start by explaining that second factor – your hair’s base color – since it’s much simpler than the first.


  • If your hair is black or dark brown, then your hair will need to be in the foils longer, if you are looking for a light shade.

You might even need to bleach your hair more than once if you are going to be able to get truly blonde colors.


The foils speed up the bleaching process, allowing your hair to lighten several shades quickly, but if your hair is really dark like black (1) or dark brown (3), then you won’t be able to get to a very blonde shade like extra light blonde (9) all in one session.

You’ll need to do two bleaching sessions, and you should get to dark blonde (7) after the first to then be able to bleach your hair again.


 You’ll need to leave the foils in for 45 minutes if you have one of those hair colors.  

You should check on the color every 5-10 minutes to make sure you are content with how the bleach process is coming along.


  • If your hair is brown (4), then you should be able to get to light blonde (8) in one session of 30 minutes, without any problems.

Brown and caramel hair (4, 5, 6) are ideal for bleaching since you can get to a light shade quickly, without needing to do a second session.


  • If your hair is blonde (7), you’ll have extra light blonde (10) hair within 20 minutes and you definitely won’t have to repeat the process.

But, be careful! If you have light hair and you leave the foils in too long, then you run the risk of your hair taking too much heat and burning or breaking it.

So, put a timer on your phone and take out the foils as soon as the time is up.


Now you know how long to leave the foils in depending on your hair color and the color you’re hoping to get.


But, like I said in the beginning, you also need to keep in mind that each technique requires you to leave the foils in for different amounts of time.

  • You shouldn’t leave the foils in for the same amount of time for highlights as you need to for a balayage.
  • And you don’t leave the foils in for the same amount of time to do a balayage as for just coloring a few specific areas.


So, now I want to tell you a little bit more about how long to leave the foils in depending on which technique you’re using.


Tabla de Contenidos


How long to leave foils in your hair, depending on the color technique

exposure times

For example, if you’re trying to do a caramel-colored balayage on dark brown hair, then you’ll need to leave the foils in 30-45 minutes.

Why do I say 30-45 minutes?


Because 45 minutes is the maximum time.

You can take out some of the foils before if you’re trying to mix shades in your balayage.


Let’s take a closer look at the amount of time you’ll need to leave the foils in for some of the most popular techniques.


Lightening certain areas

If you’re wanting to lighten a few areas of your hair, to brighten your eyes, for example, and just change your hair’s shade a little bit, this is your technique.

For these specific parts, you’ll only need to leave the foils in for 10-20 minutes.

Since the idea behind this technique is just to lighten a few areas of your hair, then you only need to leave the foils in for a short amount of time.


Foil highlights

Foil highlights are the perfect technique if you have any gray hair and for any women that can’t handle the pain associated with cap highlights.

This technique aims to contrast certain areas of your hair, so you’ll need to leave the foils in for longer.

You should leave them in 20-30 minutes to lighten your hair 3-4 shades.



Balayage is trendy all over the world. All you have to do is look at the hashtag #balayage on Instagram to know it.

This technique is ideal for women that don’t want to bleach their roots.

It can be a really radical change, so you’ll need to leave the foils in a little bit longer.

You should leave them in for 30-40 minutes if you’re aiming for very light hair.


Bleaching it all

Many women want to completely change their hair color or they want to get rid of a shade that they don’t like.

To be able to do that, you need to do a full dye removal.


A full dye removal consists of applying bleach to all of your hair, then wrapping it in foil.

You’ll need to leave the foil for 35-45 minutes in order for the color to be even.

That way, your hair will not have any pigment and you can apply any color you want.


5 key tips before you color your hair

Alright, last but not least, I want to leave you with a few tips that I hope will be helpful when it comes time to dye your hair.

They might seem like obvious tips if you have experience dyeing your hair, but if you’re new at it, I think they will be helpful.


  • I recommend asking for help to do any technique that require foils and bleaching.
  • Use a protective serum when you bleach to avoid breakage in your hair.
  • Take a look at each of your locks every 5 minutes to check on the bleach process.
  • Rinse your hair with room temperature or even cold water, which will stop the heat process brought on by the foils, thus alleviating the strain on your hair
  • Hydrate your hair with a moisturizing cream after bleaching it so your hair doesn’t dry out too much.

Deja Tu Comentario