Balayage, foil highlights, babylights, ombré, dip dye… It’s getting hard to keep up. So we thought we would come up with a quick guide to help you understand and choose your next highlight job.
First things first:
What are highlights?
Highlights involves hair bleaching and is often used to lighten hair, give it more dimension and illusion of texture and volume/body. Contrary to popular belief, you can get highlights even if your natural hair colour is dark or very dark. As is the case anytime chemicals and bleaching are involved, it will always create some level of damage to your hair. That’s why it is recommended to get highlights every 3 months or up to every 6 months or so (depending on the upkeep of the technique you have chosen and your natural hair colour; more on that later). That being said, if you have your highlights done by a professional in a good hair salon and your take great care of your hair between your appointments, there is no need to worry that your long (or short) locks will come out looking fried. A good salon treatment can also be added if you really want to add some extra protection to your hair and we recommend speaking with your hair salon to choose the right one before booking.
Types of highlights:
These are the most “traditional” form of highlights. This technique consists of selecting strands of hair of varying width/thickness and applying a bleaching solution before wrapping your hair in foil whilst it develops. This is then usually followed by a toner which will give extra dimension to your hair and give your more of an ashy blonde (cool blonde) or strawberry blonde (warm blonde) at the opposite end of the spectrum. A professional should always take the time before doing anything to your hair to sit with you and discuss what you’re after as well as advise you depending on your natural hair texture, cut and colour. Make sure you also speak with whoever is doing your hair about the level of upkeep before jumping in; as well know, highlights can cost a lot of money and you do not want to sign up for an upkeep that you can’t afford.
We always recommend browsing the internet and selecting photos of highlights you like (hello Pinterest). When doing this, make sure you make abstraction of the photo and just focus on the actual colour (believe us, we have all been there but what suits a bikini model on Instagram with a £300 hair cut might not be what suits everyone). Once the highlights have developed, your colourist will then select a toner to apply on your hair.
What is the different between full head and half head?
Apart from the additional £40 to £100? Well, to put it simply, a full head of highlights will be done on all your hair including “under layers” whereas half head will only focus on the top part, crown and a few bits on the sides/back. If you wear your hair down a lot and you’re not going for dramatic highlights, you can opt for a half head. If on the other hand you wear your hair up very often and/or you want to lighten your hair quite a bit, you should probably opt for a full head.
Balayage meaning to “sweep”, was originally developed in French hair salons. This technique has been quickly rising in popularity over recent years thanks to numerous celebrities and models sporting the look. Also known as the beach hair highlight, balayage is a highlighting technique which uses a free hand and where bleach is lightly “painted” over the hair as opposed to fully soaking and then wrapping hair in foil. This will give a very natural, sun kissed look to your hair and will give it an extra dimension. This is a great technique if you’re looking for a very low level of commitment; since the bleach isn’t applied up to your roots and lightly painted, your roots will grow out naturally and you won’t have that dreaded line after a few months as is the case with traditional highlights. Many women choose this technique to give their hair some extra “light” from time to time only to let it grow out seamlessly afterwards. But once you see how much this makes your face glow, believe us, it will be hard not to go back after a few months!
Very similar to balayage in many ways but just a little more intense as all the ends will be bleached. This technique adds depth and definition to your hair and remains low commitment since you’re not bringing it all up to your roots. However, if you want it to grow out seamlessly, the choice of a great hair dresser is crucial to make sure the transition from dark to light looks natural.
This highlighting technique again will mean much lighter ends and darker roots so similar to the ombré except that the line and transition from dark to light will be a lot more defined and not as “blended”. Very often, dip dye is used with flashy colours like pink or blue, applied once the ends have been bleached. This can be a super fun look for your summer festivals but remember that the level of commitment is higher than with Balayage or ombré.
A very soft version of a balayage where bleach is only applied to some very fine strands of hair at the top and around your face. This a very low-level commitment technique which is usually done in about 10 minutes but can bring a lot of extra “light” and definition to your face. It’s also a great natural looking technique to use in between appointments or as a little hair pick-me up in the summer months or before an event (bleach is still used however so it should not be done too often to avoid damage to your hair).
A little tip before going in for your appointment, try and skip a hair wash and not wash your hair for about 2/3 days before going in for your highlights if you can. The natural oils in your hair will help prevent too much damage.
PS. Please note that we are not professional hair dressers, the information above is only gathered through personal experience and research and we recommend speaking with your hair dresser before choosing a technique.