Fading Highlights

Hair with highlights and lowlights
Photo: Depositphotos
Q: I got blonde highlights in my light brown hair and I hate them. How long will it take for the highlights to fade? Anything I can do to speed up the fading process?
A: Highlights do not fade in the sense that color tends to fade a month or two after application. The reason for this is that highlights are attained by applying bleach to hair. Bleaching hair is a chemical process during which the hair is literally stripped of its color pigments. The longer you keep the bleach on, the more pigment is destroyed.
Coloring hair on the other hand, works a bit differently. When you color your hair a shade or two lighter, it works loosely according to the same principle, but on a much more subtle scale, with the big difference that if strips the hair of its pigment to a more refined, less damaging extent, AND then deposits artificial color over the lightened hair strand, achieving the desired color on the box.
The problem is that in order to color hair, chemicals are added to the hair-color to open the cuticles of the hair strand artificially. Once the cuticles of the hair strand has been opened, it never closes completely again. The artificial color that has been added to the hair then washes away in due time, concluding in the “faded” effect that you’re familiar with. The hair then has to be colored again to attain that lustrous glow of newly colored hair.
When you bleach hair (highlights), you only strip the hair of its color, you don’t add color over it. (A stylist may opt to tone hair, which is artificial color, but that’s irrelevant in this case). Thus, hair does not “fade” after it has been highlighted. What you see is the hair being stripped of its natural color to give it a lighter, highlighted effect. Your highlights won’t fade, it will only grow out from the root.
I suggest that you return to the salon and ask them to cover the highlights with the color of your natural hair, or a color one shade lighter, so that you still have the multi-dimensional effect of subtle color-variance without the blonde on brown contrast that you dislike.
You should however also remember that it takes a person about one to two weeks to get used to a new hair-style or color. So give yourself ample time to get used to the new look. If you’re still unhappy, swing by your stylist and have her/him help you out.
See also:
Hair coloring
How does bleaching hair work?
How to choose natural-looking highlights