Tips for Highlighting your Hair at Home

Highlights can add dimension to hair and give hair a gorgeous sun-kissed look when done correctly, but if not done correctly, it can make you look skunk-like and stripy.

Home highlighting kits are fairly inexpensive and you don’t need to color all of the hair.

Highlighting your hair on your own can be tricky and it might take some trial and error time but here are some tips to highlighting your hair at home and get the look you want.

Please Note: If you have over processed, chemically relaxed or extremely damaged hair, you should avoid highlighting your hair at home.

Do a Strand Test

If you are new to highlighting at home, be sure not to skip the strand test.

Brunette hair lightens in stages: brown to red to orange and then to yellow.

That's why the strand test—although tedious—is critical, you want to know how long it will take your hair to process and not end up with a head full of blazing orange highlights instead of a lovely butterscotch.

Follow the kit's strand test instructions, and if you like what you see, use that tested time for the rest of your head. To go lighter, reapply the mixture to the tested hair strand for another five minutes.

Prep the Hair

Make sure hair is dry and free of tangles.
Drape a towel over your shoulders to protect your clothes.
Sometimes they aren’t the greatest but always use the gloves that came with the kit and make sure the color is well mixed.

Frame the Face

Highlights should look the same way the sun would naturally lighten hair - darker at the root and lighter at the tips—like a subtle ombré.

Whether you are using a brush, comb, foil or cap, apply the color to the ends and work your way up the hair, highlight half-inch sections about an inch apart.

Add Depth and Dimension

Over highlighted hair that looks like it is one color can look flat.
Highlights should vary in size and lightness and should emphasize your base color but not overpower it.
You may want to go a shade lighter or darker than your base color.

Adding Too Many Different Colors

Although dimension is good, too much can look unnatural.
It’s best to have a base, a highlight, and a low light.

Adjust your Highlights with the Seasons

In the summer I tend to highlight my hair lighter and in the winter I’ll add darker low lights.
Highlights should be brighter and lighter in the summer when you’re spending more time outdoors in the warm sun and deeper, more golden in the winter when we lose our summer glow.

Going too Light

I’m so guilty of this - having super light highlights on a light or fair skin tone will make you look washed out.

You always want some contrast between your skin color and your hair color but you don’t want too much of a contrast because then the highlights can look stripy.

Care for your Highlights

Using a moisturizing, color-safe shampoo and conditioner will protect the hair and prevent it from losing color or becoming brassy.

Deep conditioning the hair once a week will keep it nice and healthy.

You should also prep hair before heat styling with a heat protectant.

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