Getting Great-Looking Highlights

by April Reinhardt
(last updated April 10, 2015)

Depending on the amount of money and time you want to spend, highlights can be done professionally or at home. Professionals in a salon have the experience to help you choose shades to compliment your complexion, and the know-how to do the highlights correctly. But salon highlights can be expensive, and you may decide to do them yourself at home. While you will save money doing them yourself, getting just the right shade and proper application can be tricky.

There are basically four hair highlighting techniques; foil highlighting, hair painting, chunking, and low-lighting. If you opt for a trip to the salon for highlights, your hairdresser will most likely use the foil technique. Weaving and separating your hair expertly, applying a peroxide mixture with a brush, then folding the hair within pieces of foil to protect it and allow it to process, garners highlights as well as low lights. Most people feel the salon foil technique lends the best results, despite the cost.

An alternative to foil highlighting in the salon is the comparable pull-through cap method at home. While highlighting your hair at home can save you money, it can also prove difficult if you use the pull-through method. The cap pull-through technique is not recommended for long hair, since it is extremely difficult to pull lengths of hair strands through the holes of the cap. If you have long hair and decide you want to try highlighting at home, it's best to have a friend help you.

In addition to the cap method, home highlighting kits are also available for hair painting and chunking:

  • Also called Baliage, hair painting is a free form style of highlighting in that you paint the dye directly onto hair stands, without foil or a cap. The process is easy and lends a natural look. Most kits come with brushes, but you can also use a comb to paint strands of hair.
  • Chunking creates large chunks of highlights for a bold look. Commonly, chunking involves using a color in complete contrast to your natural hair color.

Whether you go to the salon or do it yourself at home, do not wash your hair the day that you plan to highlight it. Washing your hair strips your scalp of oil, leaving it vulnerable to the harsh chemicals in hair dye. Also, make sure that your hair is free of hair product such as gel, hairspray, and mousse.

Since getting them involves both time and money, maintaining your highlights is essential and, fortunately, easy. Applying any type of dye to your hair makes it more susceptible to damage and, over time, your color may become brassy and dull. Use products for color-treated hair to avoid damage caused by hair dye processes, and to maintain their original colors.

Have your hair professionally highlighted, and then try it yourself at home. That way, you can determine whether saving money outweighs the difficulty of doing it yourself.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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