Hair Highlights, bleaching, and lightening

Julia Youssef, Assistant Vice President, L'Oréal Technical Center answers your frequently asked questions about hair color:

 

Coloring Over Highlights

I have highlights in my hair. If I color my hair over the highlights, will the highlights appear as a lighter shade?

Yes, they'll appear lighter, brighter or both. Just how light and bright? That depends on your highlights. Some women get very subtle streaks just a shade lighter than their base color, while others go for bold chunks much lighter than their base color. Therefore, when shopping for an at-home hair color product, base your shade selection not on your base color but on your highlights. Don't try to go lighter -- match, redden or deepen the tone you already have.

 

Adding Highlights Over Color

Is it safe to add highlights on top of permanent, allover color?

It's safe, but also unpredictable. That's because the first chemical process -- usually a combination of what professionals call lift (removing natural color), deposit (adding new color) and tone (colors like red, gold and orange that give personality to hair) -- will invariably affect the second process -- either processing time or color result. If you want to avoid this unpredictability, you may want to try hair color and highlighting kits formulated to work together. Excellence Creme, a hair color kit, works with Excellence Cremelights, a highlighting kit. There's also Couleur Experte, which coordinates hair color and highlight kits into a single box.

 

Blonde Color for Olive Complexions?

I have always wanted to try blonde hair but everyone advises me against it because I have olive-toned skin. Will blonde hair make my skin look green?

When it comes to choosing hair color, how dark or light your skin is matters just as much as how dark or light your hair is. But tone -- that kick that gives personality to skin and hair -- is also incredibly important. I find that women with warm undertones in their skin (golden or olive) look best in warm hair colors (gold, copper, bronze, etc.), while those with cool undertones in their skin (rosy) look best in cool hair colors (ash, iridescent, etc). Many women (wisely) choose not to lighten their hair too much, as the contrast can create an unhealthy glow if the results are too brassy or greenish. So to answer your question: Blonde hair may look great on you. But it may also wash you out. Or make you look green. It depends upon the blonde. I don't know what your hair color is, but I'm going to assume it's quite dark. Why don't you indulge your desire to go lighter without necessarily going blonde? There are new at-home hair color products that enable very dark-haired women to go much lighter, into a cool-light-brown territory, without brassiness. You may want to try the True Brunettes collection from Preference, or the Hi-Lift Browns collection from Féria.

 

Fixing Unnatural Highlights

I gave myself highlights at home, they don't look natural (the streaks are too thick). What can I do next time to achieve a more natural look?

First, apply your highlights with a lighter touch. The trick is to apply the lightening formula on only a few strands of hair at a time. For very natural-looking results, you may want to start with a base color to use all over your hair. Then add highlights in a coordinated kit. Another good idea is not just to highlight, but to start with a coordinated base color for more natural-looking results.

 

Going Lighter Without Bleach?

My husband wants to try highlights but says he doesn't want to "bleach" his hair. Is it possible to go lighter without bleach?

A lot of people don't want to use bleaching or highlighting kits because the word "bleach" reminds them of that common household cleaning product. But it's not quite the same thing. In hair color, it's an ingredient that lifts natural pigment out of the hair, creating either a beachy, bleachy look (when applied all over) or highlights. That said, for highlights that really show up, you do need bleach. But if a subtle lightness on selected strands would make him happy, he can use a permanent hair color product, applied with fingertips or a toothbrush. Again: If he wants dramatic, visible highlights, a little bit of bleach is necessary.

 

Highlight Techniques

What is the best technique to apply highlights?

There's no one right way to apply highlights. That said, in my experience, the trend for women who do their own highlights at home seems to be brushing them on with a wand. It's an at-home version of a French technique known as baliyage. That's why some of the better new highlighting kits are based upon brush-on application. Another popular at-home option is the frosting cap.

 

Lightening Turned Orange

I'm Asian and when I tried to lighten my hair it turned orange! How can I correct it? What should I do next time?

Wait at least a week before doing anything. Has the color improved? Do you like it more? Great! If not, try recoloring using the same brand but one level darker (a light brown instead of a dark blonde, for example) but with a different tone. Try something with the words "cool," "ash" or "iridescent" in its name. The new, cooler color will combine with the old, brassy color and give you a rich brown. Next time you color your hair, consider using a permanent hair color product with dyes formulated exclusively for women with dark hair. They may not be able to take you from darkest black to lightest blonde in one step, but they can give you a much lighter color without any brassiness at all. That's because they have both extra lifting action (so your hair gets lighter than it would with a traditional dye) and extra toning action (so your brassies get more "toned down" than they would with a traditional lightener). Here's another alternative for you: Go a deep red, again using a hair color product made specifically for dark-haired women. The natural red tones in your hair will work with -- not against -- a wonderful shade of copper, ruby or burgundy. You may want to try the True Brunettes collection from L'Oréal Preference; the Hi-Lift Browns collection from L'Oréal Féria; or the Power Reds collection, also from L'Oréal Féria.

 

Getting the J.Lo Look

I'm Latina and have wavy reddish, dark brown hair. I would love to go lighter, like J.Lo. How can I get hair that looks like hers?

If you have dark hair -- regardless of your ethnicity -- consider using a permanent hair color product with dyes formulated exclusively for women with dark hair. They may not be able to take you from darkest black to lightest blonde in one step, but they can give you that lightened-up look you want. That's because they have both extra lifting action (so your hair gets lighter than it would with a traditional dye) and extra toning action (so your brassies get more "toned down" than they would with a traditional lightener). You may want to try the True Brunettes collection from L'Oréal Preference or the Hi-Lift Browns collection from L'Oréal Féria.

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