Hair Highlights

Hair highlights are a simple way to add beauty to natural hair. You can use them to emphasize a focal point of a haircut or add depth and dimension to your hair.

Hair highlighting is different from hair coloring. Hair coloring defines coloring of your entire hair whilst highlighting defines coloring only a few strands of hair.

There are many different ways to highlight your hair. It depends on what look your trying to achieve to which technique you should use.

Highlights generally consist of selecting small or thick strands of hair that are lightened at least 2 shades lighter than the rest of your hair. For a natural look they should compliment your natural hair color. You should never go more than 3 shades lighter then the rest of your hair color if your objective is to achieve a sun-kissed look and to bring depth and light to your overall color.

There are plenty of ways that you can do it yourself that can be fun and fulfilling. Sometimes it might not turn out exactly as planned but that goes with the territory. The good news is, if it is not what you want, you can always redo it or have someone else do it for you.  If you are not sure what technique will best suit your hair style, consult  with your hairdresser for recommendations and tips.  

By highlighting your hair, you can create many effects. They can be as subtle or as strong as you want them to be. From an edgy, directional, fashion forward look to natural sun kissed tresses.  With a mix of two, three or more shades you can personalize your color palette and look. 

The great thing about highlights and hair lowlights is that they will suit basically any hair type – they can make fine hair look thicker and make heavy, dark hair look lighter and more textured. Below are several types of hair highlighting techniques to achieve your desired effect.

  Hair Highlighting Techniques

  Hair Foils

Foiling hair is used to separate and wrap strands of hair so the color is not mixed with other strands. This prevents different color formulas from mixing together. The great thing about  foiling is that because the sections of hair are kept separate, several colors can be applied in one process. You can choose the size and color of each highlighted strand and create a very high-end looking, multi-tonal hair color. Ways you can foil your hair:
  • Slicing - involves dissecting a tiny sliver of hair, either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal depending on the look you want to achieve. Take into account how the piece will lay when it's hanging in it's natural position.
  • Weaving -  part off a small section and weave the tail of your comb along the surface, creating either thick or thin strands...better yet, mix it up with some small, medium, and large pieces for variety and a more natural look.
  • Paneling  or Color Blocking -  will showcase a great style if it's done right. It is a very dynamic technique where large sections of your hair are colored in contrasting or complimentary tones. The panels are usually underneath or at either side of your part so the paneled sections can be either played up or hidden entirely, depending on where your hair is parted. Positioning is critical with this technique, as is choosing the right color combinations.

Denise Richards Hair Highlights
Hair Highlights

  Hair Chunking or Balayage

This method is used to achieve more lightening on the ends of the hair.  It is more natural this way, as hair is usually darker on the base of the hair shaft or the root area and less on the roots as with traditional highlights.  It  is used to highlight larger sections or chunks of your hair.

It is a fast growing hair trend. Celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Richie and  Cameron Diaz have been doing it for years. Balayage or hair chunking is a free-hand form of highlighting your hair, where you apply colour (blonde) to your ends but leave your roots darker. What balayage will do for you is add dimension to your hair. It adds depth of colour and instantly updates block browns. Unlike regular foils that are applied from your roots to your end, balayage is  more concentrated on your ends. The result - the graduated color makes it easier to deal with your hair regrowth.

Nicole Richie Hair Highlights           Sarah Jessica Parker Hair Highlights
Hair Chunking or Balayage Celebrity Style

  Hair Lowlights

Are a darker form of highlighting to add a deeper dimension to your hair color.  They can add darker hues and richer tones for a more subtle color variation. Generally less flashy than highlights, lowlights still provide color shifts for all hair colors, and when used properly, they can be a beautiful touch to add to a great style. Usually highlights are generally placed in prominent places - framing the face, at the top of the head, etc. - Lowlights are usually more discreet. Placing lowlights on lower layers of hair and further apart helps keep them looking more natural, and the deeper shades can dramatically enhance the tips of hair and highlights around your face.

Jennifer Lopez Hair Highlights        Jessica Alba Hair Highlights
Hair Lowlights adding depth and dimension

Tips for highlighting your hair, here's what the pros say:

  • When woven around the face, they will brighten your skin tones
  • When placed appropriately, hair highlights can cover the beginnings of grey hair
  • Highlights can complement certain hair textures.  Nothing is more gorgeous than naturally curly tresses hand painted with contrasting spiral highlights
  • Use a clarifying shampoo on your hair at least two days before coloring
  • Never shampoo the day you color
  • Once you mix the color, use it right away
  • Toss out the brush that comes in the box and buy flat 1/2 and 1/4 inch acrylic brushes (from art supply stores). They'll give you better control and a more natural looking result
  • Use a pair of good, tight-fitting latex gloves (the ones that come in the package don't always fit well)