We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Should I Know About Highlighting Hair?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At BeautyAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Highlighting hair is a method of lightening the color of some hair, in order to create contrast and dimension. It is usually more difficult to highlight hair at home than it is to simply dye or bleach the hair all over. This is because you need to figure out exactly where to apply color and where not to apply it to create a balanced look. It can be especially challenging to apply colors to the back of your head, where you can’t really see the sections of hair clearly.

Many hairdressers and colorists strongly recommend that if you’re considering highlighting hair, you have a professional do the highlights. This can be pricey though, costing well over $100 US Dollars (USD) in more expensive salons. If you don’t want to pay this price, it makes good sense to have someone help. You and a friend could have a highlighting party and take turns highlighting each other’s hair.

Whether you plan on highlighting hair at home or having a professional do this work, you should consider what colors you want to use. Any color you choose, unless you’re going for an extreme statement, should complement your skin and the hair that is not going to be dyed. If you want subtle contrast, chose a shade that is just a couple of shades lighter than your own hair. For more dramatic looks, you can highlight with much lighter colors. This will not look exactly natural, but it can be fashion forward.

Note that if your hair is very dark and you want blonde highlights, they will be red unless you bleach your hair first. If you’re going to do this at home, follow guidelines for how to bleach hair before putting on highlights. This can be tough on hair and may be best done by a professional.

In professional settings, you’ll note that most people use foils for highlighting hair. These are little pieces of aluminum foil into which each hair selected is placed with hair dye. At home, the foil method can be difficult — you might want to look for highlighting caps instead. These have small holes that you can pull selected parts of hair through in order to keep the dye from touching the hair you don’t want to color.

You can purchase highlighting kits, but even at home, color is usually most easily applied with a brush. You can buy brushes from beauty supply stores and you may want to pick up a bowl for mixing color too. While you can use any box color for highlighting, if you know the color you wish to use, you can also simply buy the color and peroxide you need to mix it at home.

A few good tips for highlighting hair can help:

  • Do a test strip first to see how hair looks in the new color and how your skin responds to dye.
  • Have a friend help so you can evenly apply color to selected sections
  • Use a cap at home to pull out sections of hair
  • Don’t forget to use gloves when handling color mixture
  • Apply color via brush and bowl method

Sometimes even when you follow directions and have help, highlighting hair does not turn out as you hoped. You can try again by applying dye on all the hair, or you may want to seek help with a professional to correct home mistakes. Once you do start color treating your hair, it does become more damaged (especially when you lighten color). You may not want to try again at home if the hair seems particularly porous or vulnerable.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.