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Hair Highlighting 101

Aug 17, 2007
Highlighting can add the illusion of depth, volume and texture to your hair. The process involves coloring some strands of your hair - making it lighter or darker, depending on your overall look (color of your skin, eyes, hair) and your desired look. Your highlights should compliment your natural color, not giving it an odd contrast or contrived color. Highlighting is also a great way to start if you have doubts in coloring or dying your hair.

Three things to remember before highlighting:

1. Go light or go home

Usually, in using a color for highlights, you go two or three shades lighter than your original hair color. Going beyond three shades will look extremely unnatural and peculiar.

2. Condition your hair to avoid drying

Deep condition your hair or use a clarifying treatment at least three days before highlighting because some chemicals in hair color can seriously dry your hair. After coloring, some prefer to shampoo immediately after. But, it is better to shampoo your hair a day after - this will help maintain the color.

3. Consider lowlights

You also have the option to have lowlights with your highlights which can give your hair more dimension. Lowlights make your hair darker in shade. It will make the top of your hair look heavier than the bottom. But, it is best to go to your professional stylist when trying both highlights and lowlights.

Tips for hair highlighting

- Mix two or more colors. Experiment and be creative. Just remember to use the color mix once you combine them.
- If you bought a highlighting kit, you can observe that the brush they use don't really give you much control. Flat acrylic brushes measuring - inch, which can be bought at art supply or hardware stores, give you a better grip thus making the highlights look more natural.
- Always protect your skin from hair color because it contains chemicals that can be damaging.
- Use latex gloves and make sure they fit snugly.
- Apply highlights only to the top layer of your head to create that depth and dimension you want to achieve.


Streaking is used for a sleeker and glossier effect. You can go for half-head or full-head. Half-head streaking gives your hair brighter effects done really close to the hairline. This is done through bleaching and wrapping small or thick strands of your hair in foil paper.

While whole-head streaking involves bleaching and coloring the entire head, thus producing a blonde effect. Darker streaks are placed closer to the hairline. Both procedures need a touch-up every six to eight weeks before growth of new hair becomes noticeable.

D-I-Y streaking is another method used for dry hair. Best results are seen for medium-brown to light-brown hair. A streaking kit is available at the shop, but it should include a rat-tail brush, toothbrush, a non-metal bowl for the bleach, foil paper and a couple of clips.

To do, part a thin portion of your hair at the top part of the head using the comb. Place a 5 cm foil strip under it. Take the toothbrush with bleach and swathe over the parted hair. Cover it with foil strip. Take another part of the hair about 1.25 cm below and continue the process until the desired effect is achieved.

Check the color of the wrapped hair - it should be golden. If not, reapply bleach and leave for a couple of minutes. While taking out the foil wraps, ask a friend to help you rinse with warm water to take off the bleach. Apply shampoo and conditioner after unveiling the wraps.

Finger painting

Finger painting is a method for a subtler effect. Run four fingers from your hairline to the back of the crown after dipping it in bleaching solution. Do it as if pushing back the hair from your face. Don't forget to use gloves. Follow the instructions at the back of the carton, like how long to leave the hair before rinsing, shampooing and conditioning.


The most practical and cost effective way to extend the duration of your highlights is the use of color tinted shampoos. Since these are temporary, you just stop using a certain color of shampoo if you don't like it or if you want to try other colors. You can even use them on their own, although the effect will be less.
About the Author
For more great hair highlight related articles and resources check out http://haircolor.haircarehaven.com
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