10 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Highlights

Hair highlights are all the rage these days and are a great way to achieve a natural-looking change of color.

Whether you are a mature person looking to cover gray and create warmth around the face, or a brunette looking for a bit of sun-kissed softness, highlights are an excellent option.

10 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Highlights

However, this flattering and fashionable hair trend is often an expensive and time-consuming process that needs lots of care and attention to maintain.

In fact, there are many things to consider before you embark on your highlighting journey, and if you have hesitations and queries, you are not alone.

Luckily, we have compiled a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions about hair highlights so that you can swat up on your knowledge and find out all there is to know about going golden!

Question 1 – Are Highlights Bad For Your Hair?

This is absolutely the most frequently asked question when it comes to hair highlights, and you might not like the answer.

Put simply, yes, having your hair highlighted can cause damage, but so will any heat or chemical hair treatments.

Because highlights contain a bleaching element, the process will dry out your hair fibers and can increase the risk of breakage and split ends.

People who have lots of highlights regularly over many years risk the condition of their hair becoming dry and brittle and the shine becoming dulled.

Overuse of highlights, and too frequent use, can even cause hair to fall out and become thin. However, it is not all doom and gloom.

If you allow your hair time to grow and recover between treatments, and if you look after your hair properly after treatments, then highlights do not need to be damaging to your hair.

To combat the drying out of fibers, you should apply intensive moisturizing hair masks once weekly. You should also avoid using too many heat treatments and appliances on highlighted hair, and put your hairdryer in a cool setting.

You should also avoid having highlights retouched too often, as applying bleach on top of bleach weakens the hair and causes it to snap and shrink. 

Some excellent home treatments for highlighted hair include – olive oil, argan oil, coconut oil, egg whites, and avocado!

Question 2 – How Long Do Highlights Last?

As highlights contain bleach they are technically permanent, however, this does not mean that they do not need to be looked after.

The golden color of highlights can become brassy and dulled if not properly cared for, and this can happen as quickly as three weeks after your treatment. The best way to avoid this fading is to use a purple or violet shampoo at least once every three weeks.

Purple shampoos reinvigorate the color and shine of highlighted hair fibers and prevent them from becoming brassy.

You can further extend the lifespan of your highlights by not washing your hair too frequently. Over-washing will cause the color and luster of your locks to fade, so sticking to once weekly washes is best.

Using dry shampoo in between is a great tip for those whose hair becomes greasy.

Of course, highlights ultimately last as long as it takes for your hair to grow.

Most people find that their roots require retouching after 2-3 months, however, it is essential not to get your roots done too soon, or you will risk damaging the follicles and causing the hair to break at the root.

Question 3 – Can You Get Rid Of Highlights?

As highlights contain bleach it is not possible for your hair to return to its natural color once the treatment has been applied. This is because bleach strips hair fibers of their color.

However, just because highlights are not reversible, does not mean they are not changeable.

There are a few ways in which you can switch up your hair after highlights if you fancy a change or do not like the results.

The most obvious way is to wait for your natural hair to grow through. The new hair that grows at the root will not be highlighted and if left alone it will grow back in your original color and tone.

However, this can take a very long time and many people find the process too frustrating.

An alternative option is to color over your highlights with a different color hair dye. If you choose to do this it is important to choose a dye that is free from bleach and to do a patch test on a small area in order to see how the color reacts to the highlights.

It is wise to match the hair dye to your natural hair color if you want your roots to blend seamlessly in as they grow.

10 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Highlights

Question 4 – Can You Go Swimming With Highlights?

We have all heard the horror stories of those whose highlights went green on holiday after she spent too long in the swimming pool. There are even some stories of people’s hair falling out after their highlights reacted badly with the chlorine.

Although these stories sound far-fetched, they are not entirely implausible. Swimming pool water does in fact contain chemicals that can react badly with the bleach used in highlights.

To prevent any hair disasters it is best not to go swimming for at least a week after having highlights put in, and to be sure to have washed your hair thoroughly at least once since your treatment.

The chemicals used in the treatment will become weakened and diluted with washing and time, so you will be able to swim in peace after this.

However, it is good practice to wear a swimming cap and to condition your hair well after exposing it to chlorine.

Question 5 – How Soon Should You Wash Your Hair After Highlights?

In the same way that you should wait for a week before you go swimming, it is advisable to wait a week before washing your hair after highlights too.

This is because the hairdresser will have used nourishing and moisturizing products to protect and soothe your hair after the chemical treatment. These products need time to work, and if you wash them off too soon you will leave your hair exposed to unnecessary damage and trauma.

Even if you are tempted to wash and restyle your hair after highlights, remember that it has been through a lot and needs time to recover.

Question 6 – What Is The Difference Between Caps and Foils?

Caps and foils are both techniques for applying highlights and different hairdressers and salons favor different methods. Neither method is better or worse than the other, however, they are generally used to achieve slightly different results.

Caps are the traditional way of applying highlights.

In this method, a plastic cap is used to cover the head and scalp and contain all the hair. Then the individual fibers are pulled through tiny holes in the cap so that they can have highlights applied to them without it touching the rest of their hair.

This technique is very time-consuming but is great for accuracy.

Hairdressers are able to isolate the exact hairs that they wish to highlight and place the little glints of golden warmth exactly where they would like them. This allows them to flatter the face and give the hair a rich and multi-toned look. 

Foils are a more modern approach to highlights, and they tend to be quicker than caps (although they still take quite some time to complete).

With foils, the hair is split into small sections that are layered throughout the head. The highlight is applied to each section before it is encased in foil and left to develop.

Foils tend to work well for those with long hair, whereas caps are better for those with short hair.

Question 7 – What Is The Difference Between Highlights And Lowlights?

As obvious as it sounds, lowlights are the direct opposite of highlights. They involve darker shades being threaded through the hair in order to create the look of volume and depth.

Where highlights are used to make hair lighter and create softness, lowlights make hair darker and add definition and richness. 

Lowlights and highlights are often used together to create a really natural look.

Natural hair is never all one block color, and using a combination of both highlights and lowlights can recreate this very successfully whilst enhancing the quality and vibrancy of those shifts in shade. 

Lowlights are often placed on lower hairs that lie underneath the rest of your hair, and highlights are used on upper hairs that fall around the face and on top of the rest of your hair. This creates the illusion of volume and thickness underneath, whilst bringing femininity and softness to the surface.

Question 8 – What Is The Difference Between Highlights and Hair Dye?

The key difference between applying hair dye and having highlights is that highlights result in a much more natural look.

This is due to the difference in application techniques between these two treatments. When you dye your hair, a block color is applied evenly to the whole head, resulting in a solid and uniform hair color once finished.

By contrast, highlights are applied to individual strands of hair in tiny sections. This means that the highlighted areas can be specifically chosen to flatter your face and lift your look.

As your natural hair is not all one flat color, highlighted hair mimics the nuanced appearance far more closely and results in a much more organic and life-like hairstyle.

However, highlights are much more tricky to achieve and hair dye is, therefore, more popular for those who like to do their own coloring at home.

Hair dyes also tend to be less damaging for your hair as most do not contain bleach and are less expensive to have done.

10 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Highlights

Question 9 – What Is The Difference Between Full And Half Head Highlights?

It is possible to have a full head of highlights whereby all the fibers of your hair are treated with bleach and color in order to achieve a full, blonde bombshell look.

Often, hairdressers will use a combination of a few different shades of blonde when doing a full head highlight, as this prevents the hair from looking blocky and one-dimensional.

Even when you are having a full head of highlights, hairdressers will leave a 1 cm gap at the very root of your hair. This is to avoid any bleach touching your delicate scalp and causing it to blister.

It is also because bleach expands as it develops and needs room to swell towards the root.

A half head of highlights is when a golden blonde color is applied to some of your hair, whilst the rest of your hair is left its original shade.

These highlights can be distributed evenly throughout the head or can be concentrated in certain areas like the front of the scalp and around the face.

You can choose to have as few or as many highlights as you like depending on the effect that you are hoping to achieve. Fewer highlights can be subtle and add an extra dimension to your natural look, whereas more highlights can transform your look completely.

Question 10 – Are Highlights Bad If You Are Pregnant?

Lots of expectant mothers fear that having their hair highlighted might harm their unborn baby, however, this is not the case.

Although the body does absorb some of the chemicals used in highlights through the hair follicles in the scalp, it only absorbs very tiny amounts which are not harmful.

So don’t worry, if you are a mum-to-be, and you can see your roots desperately need retouching, you do not need to wait 9 months before heading to the salon. Treat yourself! You won’t adversely affect your baby.

FAQs – Quick Answers

Do Highlights Damage Your Hair?

Highlights do cause your hair to become dry and damaged if they are applied too often.

To avoid breakage and split ends you should allow your hair time to grow and recover between treatments and should use a moisturizing conditioner once a week.

Do Highlights Fade?

Highlights can become dull and brassy over time if they are not properly looked after.

Over-washing will cause the fading process to speed up, so try not to wash your hair more than once a week, and use a purple shampoo to maintain the golden tone.

Are Highlights Permanent?

Highlights involve bleaching your hair, and stripping it of its natural color. This process cannot be reversed, however, your natural hair color will return as the new hair grows through.

You can get rid of highlights by waiting for your hair to grow out, or by coloring over your highlights with hair dye.

Miranda Cole