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Mastering hair highlights at home for salon-quality results

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Highlights are a great way to add dimension to your hair and shake things up a little without having to bleach or color your entire head. The subtle addition of color is less damaging to your hair but makes for an eye-catching high fashion look.

Whether you’re after some classic blonde streaks or a more adventurous pop of color, highlighting at home is possible and with the right tools it’s easy to do, as this step-by-step-guide by Schwarzkopf explains.

Should you highlight your hair at home?

Before you scour the stores for your perfect color, you should assess the condition of your hair. If your hair has already been bleached multiple times and is very damaged or dry, highlighting at home may not be advisable. When you’re looking for a very drastic color change like adding blonde streaks to black hair, you may want to consult a professional first.

Select a coloring kit that’s made for highlights

For great multi-tonal hair, you no longer need to go to a salon. According to Woman & Home, there are plenty of quality home highlighting kits available in store and online. It’s best to choose a product that’s made specifically for adding streaks. Your kit should contain the lightening product, a special comb or applicator, gloves, conditioner and instructions. Unless you know what you’re doing, steer clear of using aluminum foil. Many highlighting kits include special caps that allow you to thread through strands of hair for a professional look. Depending on the shade you’re after, it’s best to go no more than two shades lighter than your natural color. This way, you can avoid brassy tones.

Do a strand test

A strand test lets you check the exact amount of time needed to reach the desired color. Once you’ve selected your perfect shade and laid out the tools, apply a small amount of the product to a section or strand of your hair. Wipe the lightener off after ten minutes to check the result. If you prefer a lighter shade, reapply the product and keep checking every five to ten minutes. Make a note of the length of time it took for the product to reach the desired result.

Work from front to back

One of the difficulties of coloring hair at home is reaching the hair at the back. Special caps included in highlighter kits are helpful here. But if you don’t have one to hand, focus on framing the front parts of your hair. Part your hair as you normally would. Then apply the mixture starting around one inch from the scalp. Hold your hair straight for an even application. Here’s an extra tip: if you’re unsure of your streaking skills, you can test them using conditioner instead of color first.

Keep an eye on the time

The kit instructions will include the time it takes for a product to develop. If you’ve done a strand test and written down your desired development time, make sure you set a timer and check in periodically. Always keep a close eye on your highlights while they develop. You can wipe off the product from a strand to see whether you’ve reached the desired shade. If it needs a bit more time, simply apply some of the highlighter and check again five minutes later.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Regardless of the texture or color of your hair, for that salon-quality look good hair care is important in all kinds of situations. After highlighting you should wash your hair using a quality shampoo and apply a deep conditioner for five minutes. Lightening hair always draws out moisture so it’s important to restore this by adding plenty of conditioner.

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