Highlighting & Highlights

Brown hair with highlights
The wind, surf and sun make her hair glisten with golden highlights as she strolls lazily on the beach. She was a college girl vacationing from her studies. Here, with her girlfriends, they all had hair that radiated several shades of blonde, with long thin streaks of strawberry blonde, platinum blonde and red over light and medium brown giving the appearance of being au natural, but, with the fine tune of costing her hundreds of dollars.
Every week thousands of women go to the salon of their choice to have foils. This is part of their life. They set up a budget and realize they are high maintenance ladies. Coloring their hair isn’t an option, but a necessity in their lives. As they service their hair about 2 or 3 times a year, their stylist/colorist becomes a confidant and friend as she shares her life story.
To lift your hair up one level or five depends upon the color of your natural hair. If you are a dark blonde, your colorist can easily mix up a formula to lift your hair a few shades lighter without applying bleach. If you have light brown hair and apply a high powered blonde formula there will always be a certain amount of reddish blonde brought up and deposited because all browns have a certain amount of red. Reddish blonde is beautiful on some ladies and can look quite flattering with the proper complexion.
If you are a dark brown and have always dreamed of having highlights, here is something for you to think about. When blonde is brought up out of the dark, there will always be red involved because of all the levels the process has to go through. The red/orange can be toned down with the proper toner to deal with this. Light blonde strands running through dark brown isn’t exactly the most complementary look on anyone though. I’ve heard some call it the “skunky look”, others, an oreo cookie. The contrast of light blonde and dark brown/black is way too drastic.
There is hope. Why not bring your hair up to a rich golden? Not orange, but a shimmering gold. The dramatic effects could be dazzling. If you are daring and would like to be lighter still, put another color along side your gold and brown, like a rich coppery red. This would bring you three festive shades, discreetly, of course. The best time to do this, if you want this to be kept secret, is be serviced at a good reputable salon while you are on your holiday. One would think you’ve biked for miles in the sunshine, when they admire your mane.
If you are a redhead and desire some highlights, this can be easily obtainable, foiling your hair up one or two shades. Strawberry blonde enriches the whole head over a true redhead and you’ll be ready to go anywhere with confidence.
Highlighting covers up gray and makes you feel a little bit younger. For those already young, it makes them feel much more attractive. Whether long or short hair, highlighting is here to stay. My observation has statistically been that 98% women tint their hair for fun or to cover up the gray, highlight or do both to their hair.
Is highlighting for you, though? If you have silver hair and want to cover up the gray by highlighting, chances are it will only make you look older. How can this be, you might ask? Because, if you already have gray hair it will then, look yellowed and washed out from the sun. You won’t be fooling anyone and will look exactly like what you’ve just done, “highlighted” over gray hair. Because of this, many tint their hair first with an attractive light brown/dark blonde color and then, highlight. Or, you can ask your hairdresser about putting in some low lights along with the highlights. This will take care of the yellowish grayish blonde. Low lights can range in shades anywhere from chocolate brown to a dark blonde for contrast and will do more deposit then lift.
The rule of thumb is to remember as you age to go lighter, not darker. Some want three shades and decide upon a red too. When we age not only does our hair gray but it appears our facial skin does too. We seem to “gray out” everywhere. Color does help us along this journey. If you are fortunate enough to have silver hair mixing in with your brown, believe it or not, you already have the most appealing color for you personally, unless your hair is not ultra fine and difficult to work with. Then, color is in order for you.
Another thought towards covering the gray and having golden highlights without all of the cost is to purchase a golden blonde/brown color and tint your whole head. The gray will be golden with automatic highlights without all the expensive cost and your natural color should be about 2 levels up with just a little bit of reddish tones involved. The secret isn’t so much to look younger but to look attractive and well kept at your age. Ask your hairdresser if there are other ways to cover your gray besides highlighting and perhaps suggest what I’ve given.
Blonde over blonde equals blonde. Why foil when your hair has become blonde all over? At that point all you need is a touch up. If you are serious about a contrast, in which case you are a good candidate for low lights. Remember, highlights and lowlights are detail work and should be left up to the pro, this work can take many a tedious hour. It will save you money in the end. Many a colorist has worked to repair messed up colors.
Have you ever heard the term “less is more?” That is especially true when it comes to coloring. Subtly is much more attractive, than a head of hair that shouts “I am blonde!” Mystery is magical, not obviousness. Be a wonder. Let their imagination’s puzzle over the charisma of your locks. Be an enigma. With a good attitude, the right color and cut, your hair can influence all those around you. You won’t have to shout “I am a blonde.” All heads will be charmed when you walk into a room.
There are many types of bleaches out there today to use with your foils. There is still the powder bleach but now they contain special ingredients to prevent drying out and flaking, oil bleach, crème bleach and a combination. I prefer the oil and crème bleach to do any high lifts, because I look for ways to keep hair in good condition. They are gentle on the hair in comparison to the powdered bleaches.
A long time ago there were only high powered harsh bleaches that left the hair like straw if you weren’t careful. We didn’t have the deep moisture conditioners that we have now, only crème rinses and oil treatments. Everyone wanted to be a Platinum blonde and many of us had to have double processes to bring the hair up to that level. Our scalp would be burning as we’d madly fan our head. By the time we had our hair up to the proper pale yellow, we then had to turn around and apply the toner to have the color we desired. The double process was a one time thing in the beginning, but a nightmare to go through at the time.
The fun part with such a light color, I could choose any shade of blonde I desired, and would go through a touch up once a month. It would be unthinkable for anyone to see my dark roots, albeit I knew I wasn’t hiding the fact that I bleached my hair (yes, I shouted blonde!,). Today, it’s almost fashionable to sport a couple of months new growth and reveal an inch or two of your natural hair. Colorists do not find this appealing at all.
There are many pathways you can take if you are serious about highlighting your hair. Be open to what would look best on you and be agreeable with your lifestyle and personality. You might be blonde right now but have the personality of a saucy redhead. There isn’t anything like a beautiful red hair. Color and cut is everything. Do not give up or be discouraged, your unique color designed just for you is just waiting for you.
Penny Williams     ©hairfinder.com
See also:
How to choose natural-looking highlights
Foil highlighting
How to highlight hair with a highlighting cap
Questions and answers about highlights