How to Highlight Your Own Hair


how to highlight your own hair
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The History of Hair Highlighting

Did you know that during the year of 1863, professor William Henry Perkins was attempting to develop a cure for Malaria but ended up accidentally inventing the first modern permanent coloring hair dye?

Dying hair actually began earlier than this. It can be dated back to as early as the Paleolithic Period where caves people used red dirt on their skin and in their hair. Ancient Egyptians also widely used plant extracts to dye their hair black and even gold!

It wasn't until the 1950s when the fad really took off amongst women wanting to cover gray hairs. This was also when Clairol created the first "dyeing hair at home" and bleach kit. Blonde hair was the most popular base color choice until the 1970s came along and highlighting hairs took off.

Now, it's easier than ever to dye your own hair at home and add appealing highlights. Whether you want to style new blonde hair or brown hair, today's the day you learn how to highlight your hair without using harsh chemicals, like bleach, or worrying about having dry hair.
1980 hair highlights

Highlighting Hair Styles

hair highlights
  • Dip Dyed Hair – Whether you have a short or long hairstyle, this style is amongst the easiest and cheapest to achieve, as it only involves one type of coloring that you will need to apply only once. Jessie J and Lea Michele are among the many Hollywood stars who have sported this kind of hairstyle.
  • Lowlights – Like darker shades instead of light? This method tends to imitate the effects of sunlight, wherein you will see lighter hair on top of your head, and darker on your nape and below the neck. This is particularly effective on blonde hair and brown hair.
  • Ribboned – Ribboned highlights can be very natural-looking with the use of hair coloring within the same color range. For example, Jessica Alba’s caramel highlights that gorgeously emphasize her wavy, natural curls. You can also use pastel colors to highlight your waves. In general, darker curls are the perfect stage for lighter ribbons, since they emphasize each wave for a classy look.
  • Ribboned – A perfect option for those who have wavy or curly hair, ribboned highlights can be a natural-looking ‘do with the use of hair coloring within the same color range. Take for example, Jessica Alba’s caramel highlights that gorgeously emphasized her huge and sexy curls. You can also choose to use pastel colors to highlight your waves, as these lively yet subtle hues have flooded the fashion world in recent years. Jennifer Lopez also loves sporting this style with her wavy brunette ‘do. In general, darker curls are the perfect stage for lighter ribbons, since they emphasize each wave for a classy look.
  • Hair Painting or Balayage – A result of genuine expertise and artistry, painting or balayage can be considered one of the sexiest ways to highlight one’s hairdo while maintaining a natural, yet audacious, style. It is equally perfect for curly and wavy styles, and nonetheless can be done on straight locks that need to be brought to life.

Learn How To Easily Highlight Your Hair at Home

Home hair coloring is not an uncommon practice, due to the fact that dyes are now easily accessible at highly affordable rates. Going to the salon is a more professional way to highlight your hair, as you can leave it all to your hairstylist to decide which kind of highlights will best suit you. They can do a careful analysis of the condition of your hair, the shape of your face, and provide expert advice on which way to go when it comes to highlights.

However, professional highlights can be very expensive, especially for those on a tight budget, ranging anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on the complexity and coverage you're looking for. This is why many women turn to their own capabilities to experiment with hair highlights on their own while trying to avoid using bleach.

Tips On Adding Your Own Highlights

Unlike dyeing, highlights are a bit challenging, and doing it on your own will require some practice, patience, and some getting used to.

Here are a few tips to consider before you highlight your hair at home:

  • Know which dye to begin with  - Choosing the most suitable dye product is a big challenge for first-timers. With too many brands and products out there claiming to be the best one, it’s hard to decipher which one is really the best for you. To make it easier, remember to choose one according to your base hair color. Find a dye that says it is for your specific hair type, for example - for dark hair, try choosing one that says “golden highlights” or "mocha highlights". But remember, with each session of dyeing that you do, your hair will gradually lose its pigment, meaning, you'll be left with better results as you repeat the process.
  • Follow the instructions, including the strand test - Don’t just jump right into highlighting without doing a strand test. Doing so will enable you to see the results, and whether you will want that kind of highlight afterward. In case it goes awry and does not give you the results you desire, it will be easier to touch it up. If you want something lighter during the first try, you can reapply the dye for another five minutes.
  • Don’t use the plastic cap - It’s in the package, but it doesn’t mean it is the most effective product to use. In fact, the best tools you can utilize is right in your home. Using the plastic cap will not guarantee great highlight results since it is very difficult to know where pulled hair is coming from. You will need to choose the strands with your own hands. Applying the dye can be done using a toothbrush or paintbrush.
  • Protect your skin by rubbing some petroleum jelly on your neck, below your hairline, and along the ears to avoid staining and skin irritation. After applying the dye, wash your strands thoroughly and use a deep conditioner to keep your hair soft and silky. 
  • Wear gloves!

How To Get "Dip Dyed" Highlights In Seven Steps

  • Read the instructions on how to mix the dye. Depending on the brand you purchased, dyes can be applied straight from the package or will need to be mixed according to certain instructions. Mixing different colors of dyes is an option for those who aren’t able to find the exact hue that they want to achieve.
  • Apply the dye on your hair while sectioning it off. Brush the dye onto the part of your hair where you want the highlights. And, as the title "dip-dyed" suggests, you can also literally ‘dip’ your hair in the mixture. Make sure the tips are fully covered with dye. Gradually decrease the amount of dye you apply as you move up your head. This will allow the highlight color to blend with your natural color little by little.
  • Just like you see in salons, use foils to wrap your colored hair in. Part your dyed hair into sections and cover each one with aluminum foil to speed up the process. While this is totally optional, this actually helps in allowing the hair color to seep in properly and penetrate the hair shaft. Leave it on according to instructions and check your hair every now and then to make sure the highlights are not over-highlighted. Once you get your intended color, wash your hair to rinse out the dye. Make sure to use cold water and conditioner thoroughly to take off all the residue. Repeat washing until you stop seeing the water change color.
  • Lastly, dry your hair and style it the way you want it. Voila! You have a new hairstyle to show off!

Get Lowlights In Six Steps

  • Choose a hair color that is one or two shades darker than your natural hair color. Section your hair into parts where you want to put lowlights. A tail comb is one of the best tools to part your hair effectively in even parts, just like when you are doing highlights. Lowlights go on the lower part of the hair, therefore, your sectioning it first will make this process much easier.
  • Use a clip to pin the hair strands that you will lowlight, and decide which color will go to each one. Lowlights with different lengths look more natural. Depending on where you want them, you can have lowlights that are closely placed or more loose-looking.
  • Apply the dye on one part at a time. If you plan to use more than one color, this will make the process a bit more difficult. Get a small brush to apply the dye and make sure the hair is well covered. Also, make sure to leave at least half an inch of hair from your scalp. As you apply the dye on the sections of hair you set aside, cover each one with foil to prevent the dye from bleeding. Let it sit in the foil for the suggested length of time. Read the instructions on the package to avoid overdoing it.
  • Wash your hair with cold water and conditioner. If you take a shower, don't use shampoo yet. Just continue rinsing your hair until you can see little to no dye washing off. Do not shampoo within 24 to 48 hours or else you will risk removing part of the lowlights that you worked so hard on!

Get Beautiful Ribbon Highlights In These Five Simple Steps

  • Like every other kind of highlighting technique, ribbon highlighting begins with choosing the right dye to achieve a particular look. Ribbon highlights are technically dying your hair with darker sections of hair color to give it a radical multi-dimensional look. Make sure you get a dye that is one or two shades darker than your natural hair color.
  • Begin sectioning your hair into thin parts that you would like to add the coloring too. The dye will go on the lower part of the hair, so those with long hair can clip their locks to take them higher. In fact, you can color the lower part of your sectioned hair without it looking symmetrical. The more varied it is, the more natural it will look.
  • Let the dye sit accordingly to the suggested length of time by using foil to separate each section where the dye is applied.
  • Once the time is up, rinse your hair with cold water and conditioner (so it feels softer afterward). Make sure not to shampoo your hair for a day or two to allow the hair color to seep in and last longer.

DIY Highlighting

As the trend has shown over the years, highlighting your hair has no limits, no matter what color you like! The possibilities are endless and more importantly, you can have fun in the process of trying to find a new hairstyle. But there is one simple rule you really should follow when highlighting your hair yourself: the ones on the instruction package. Even if you are unsure about what type of highlights you want or what color to use, you can use a temporary hair dye to test it out. If you're satisfied with the results, you can redo the process using permanent hair color dye!

If your goal is to copy a certain celebrity's highlights, remember that doing it yourself requires practice, and you may not get your desired look the first time around. But that's okay! Remember to have fun when you highlight your own hair and try different methods and products to see what works best for you. Another important tip to remember is not to wash your hair with shampoo one or two days after the highlighting process. Just use conditioner in the meantime to help keep your hair healthy, soft, and silky. If you want professional tips, just ask a hairstylist what they recommend doing first and what their favorite dye products are. They'll be more than happy to offer advice!

(Last Updated On: May 1, 2020)

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