How To Highlight Hair at Home

Here Are Some Do-It-Yourself Highlighting Techniques

Getting a new hair color at the salon

Highlighting your own hair at home can be a great way to change your look and save money. These days, it seems like everyone's trying to save cash.  More and more people are skipping that regular trip to the salon.  If you just want to give your look a quick update, then highlighting your hair is the answer.  While it does take some know-how and attention to detail, if you decide ahead of time on the look you want to achieve and get the right products, adding your own streaks of color can be fun and rewarding.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when getting your hair ready for highlighting:

  1. Take your hair length into consideration. If you have short- to medium-length hair, a home highlighting kit that includes a cap, hook and brush is probably your best choice. For longer hair, you'll want to try a kit that comes with specialized brushes that let you "paint" individual colors throughout the strands.
  2. Decide what color you want. Remember this tip: highlights tend to look best when the results are more subtle than drastic. If you have dark blonde or medium brown hair, try using a kit in blonde tones that are only a few shades lighter than your natural color. If you have dark brown or black hair, try dark blonde or caramel highlights that will enhance your natural tones. Red highlights are another option.
  3. Work on dry hair. It's best to work with your hair when it is dry and not freshly washed. The natural oils in your hair will help protect it from the chemicals that you will be using.
  4. Protect yourself. Since you are going to be working with chemicals, you'll want to be sure to wear an old shirt with long sleeves and an old towel pinned around your shoulders to protect your skin. Be sure to wear the gloves provided with the kit at all times and immediately wash any areas of your skin that come in contact with the mixture.
  5. Choose your work space wisely. A bathroom or kitchen is the best place to highlight hair. Some good advice is to remove anything that might be ruined should the mixture accidentally come in contact with it and to wipe up spills as they happen.
  6. Read the instructions carefully. Not all home kits are the same so even if you've highlighted your hair before, take the time to read the directions entirely. The techniques you use may vary depending on the choices you have made.
  7. The cap method. If you are using the cap and hook method for short- and medium-hair, place the cap tightly on your head and secure it firmly. Next, starting at the front of the head, use the hook provided to pull through thin sections of the hair. The general rule is to keep the pieces small and pull the hair through every second hole in the cap. If you have very short hair on the sides and back, skip pulling these sections through as they will come out looking spotted.
  8. For the long hair method. Before painting the mixture onto long hair, first decide where you want to apply the color. Around the face is the best place to start. Part your hair the way you'd normally style it and visualize where each shade would show up and look the best. This is the time to decide if you want natural or chunky hair highlights.
  9. Mix it up. Now, with gloved hands, mix the ingredients according to the directions. Be sure to stir or shake the mixture thoroughly before using.
  10. Cover the cap. For the cap method, simply paint on the mixture with the brush provided, making sure that all the hair is thoroughly coated. Don't be afraid to apply a little light pressure with the brush to ensure you're getting the mixture through all the strands of hair and not just on the surface.
  11. Begin painting. For the painting method, simply load up the special brush according to the directions and paint on the mixture where you'd like highlights. Be sure to use enough of the mixture to sufficiently coat the hair, but avoid globs.
  12. Be patient. As a general rule, you should let the mixture sit on your hair for as long as the directions advise. If you think that the color is getting too light for your liking, take a corner of the old towel you're wearing and very gently rub off a small spot of the mixture. Have a good look at that piece of hair. If it really is light enough, you can rinse early. Otherwise, re-coat that section and wait it out.
  13. Rinse well. Be sure to rinse all the mixture out of your hair. If there is a follow-up conditioner provided, use it to help restore moisture and protect your newly colored hair.

Now that your hair is highlighted, you'll want to be sure to take extra good care of it. Using shampoos and conditioners especially made for color-treated hair will help your hair stay healthy and shiny. You'll also want to ensure your new highlights don't get too much sun exposure. You worked hard to get your highlights just the right color-you don't want the sun changing that perfect hue.

Note: Make sure you look at highlighting trends and examples before you get started, especially if this is your first time. Also: I strongly recommend semi-permanent or temporary hair color - if things don't go well, it's a lot better than hoping for fast hair growth! 

These ideas provide options so you can decide which highlighting method is best for your hair. Remember, always read the instructions before beginning. Now you're ready to get started!


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