Whether you want to give your hair a bit of sun-kissed glow or completely revamp your head with some funky chunks of dyed hair, you will need to know how to high or lowlight your hair. Follow these easy steps to save some money and create your new ‘do in the comfort of your own home.
A. Getting Ready to Dye Your Hair
1. Know the difference between highlights and lowlights. While applying them is essentially the same process, highlights are strips of hair that you dye a lighter color than your natural hair. Lowlights are strips of hair that you dye darker than your natural hair. Getting highlights or lowlights creates a more subtle change than dyeing your entire head. They also, as you might imagine, do less damage to your hair than coloring your whole head.
- On curly hair, low and highlights give your curls a bit of depth, while they may straight hair look like it has more volume.
- Keep in mind that stylists don’t recommend high or low lighting hair that is very short (think pixie cut) simply because it doesn’t really give short hair depth or volume.
2. Pick your dye. Choose hair colors one to two shades darker and/or lighter than natural color for natural results, 2-4 shades different for more dramatic results. If this is your first time dyeing your hair, you may want to try using temporary or semi-permanent dye rather than permanent dye.
- Temporary dyes tend to diminish after 6 to 12 shampoos. Semi-permanent dyes will wash out after 20 to 26 shampoos. Permanent dyes last longer and will generally remain in your hair for six to eight weeks, but can sometimes remain longer.
- Blondes who want to lowlight their hair should try gold or copper dyes. Brunettes can enhance their hair with caramel or chocolate colors.
3. Wash your hair 24 to 48 hours before dyeing it. During the span of 24 to 48 hours, your hair will develop natural oils that help dye bind to your hair more effectively. They also help the dye last longer.
- Try to avoid conditioning your hair the day before you dye it. Conditioner gets rid of the natural oils your head produces.
4. Guard against dye stains. While you want to change the color of your hair, you probably don’t want to change the color of your favorite shirt or carpet. Cover the ground where you will be dyeing your hair and any nearby surfaces. Have paper towels on hand in case any spills occur. Wear an old shirt that you don’t care about.
5. Wrap a towel you are comfortable getting dye on around your shoulders. The towel will catch any dye drips and you can use it to dry your hair after the rinsing phase of the dyeing process. Secure the towel in place in front of your neck with a clip or safety pin.
6. Put on your dyeing gloves. Dyeing kits generally come with gloves, but if yours doesn’t come with gloves, you can just wear normal latex or rubber gloves. Wearing gloves ensures that you don’t dye your fingers and nails along with your hair.
8. Mix the dye. The dye you bought should come in a box that has directions on it. Follow these directions exactly. If your kit came with activator, add it to the dye now and mix it in. Dye kits almost always come with a bowl and brush to mix the dye in. If yours did not come with either, you can use a plastic bowl (which might get stained) and a dyeing brush bought at your local drugstore.
- You could also use a large paint brush bought at a craft store. The brush should be one and half to two inches wide.
9. Mix your dye with developer. Only some dyes require developer. Check the box your dye came in to determine whether you need to use developer or not. Developer should be included in your dye box. If it isn’t, you can buy it at a drugstore or salon supply store.
- When using dye much darker than your hair, use 10% developer. If you are dyeing your hair a couple of shades lighter, use 20% developer. If you are highlighting your hair with dye five shades or more lighter, use 30% developer. Do not use any percentage of developer above that, as 40 and 50% developer is used for bleaching and should only be used by professionals.
10. Get your foils ready. Rip off a large piece of foil and tear it into strips that are three inches wide. You should overestimate how many you will need, as you do not want to get halfway through high or low lighting your hair, only to realize you need to get up and tear more foiL.