How To Do Hair Highlights

Published: 01st November 2010
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Some of the necessary tools you will need for applying highlights are:

• Cape: A cape is very important to keep bleach from ruining your clothes.

• Bowl & Tint Brush: Mix your lightener and developer in a bowl with a tint brush

• Pre Cut Foils: I recommend pre-cutting your foils which helps reduce the time of the entire highlight process. I also recommend purchasing a highlighting board which helps create leverage when applying product to hair. In addition, it helps highlighting long hair a bit more manageable. Set the foil at the top of the board and fold over about an inch at the edge. Place the weaved or sliced section of the hair right over the foil, tightly press the board right up against the scalp and apply product. Please don’t apply the product heavily to the root area, this may cause bleeding which is not pretty and will need to be fixed.

• Lightener and Developer: Choose a lightener suitable for the hair along with the appropriate developer

• Rat Tail Comb: A rat tail comb is used to section the hair when highlighting. The two most popular ways to highlight hair are a slice or a weave. For a more natural look try weaving. Weaving is achieved when you slice a thin section of hair, lift up and weave in and out with the tail comb releasing the hair that doesn’t belong. The term Slicing is defined as using the rat tail comb to section a thin slice of hair and highlight the whole slice. It provides a more dramatic look. If you want a thicker or chunkier result than I recommend slicing two sections back to back in foils. This means slice one parting and instead of leaving hair out in between foils, slice another right after the other foil. Remember the more back to back slices, the chunkier the outcome. Don’t ever try to highlight a thick section of hair, trust me it will be nothing but trouble.

• Water Bottle: A water bottle can be used if you accidentally get lightener on hair that is not meant to be highlighted. Water slows down and dilutes the lightening process. Once foils are applied, I would go back and lift all foils making sure that no lightener has leaked out. If you see lightener seeping out, then saturate with water and wipe with towel. If you notice the first foils you started application at are done before the back foils, then open the foil and squirt them with water. Don’t soak them, but mist them. This will slow down and stop the process to help avoid any over highlighted and damaged hair.

• Clips: Clips will help you keep the hair organized by holding hair out of the way when weaving or slicing.

If it’s your first time highlighting then I highly recommend practicing with conditioner. Highlighting is not easy and you can really mess up someone’s hair if it’s not done correctly. So take a few minutes and really study where you want the foils to be placed. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


• Use a good clarifying shampoo and conditioner a few days before you highlight. This removes any traces of hair care products so your hair will take the highlight better.

• Don’t wash your hair a day or two before the highlighting process because a small amount of natural hair oil helps protect your hair from chemical damage.

• Brush your hair thoroughly right before you highlight because tangles may make it difficult to apply highlights and might affect the outcomes.

• It is also a good idea to do a test procedure with a thin piece of hair and a small amount of highlighting mixture. Wait a few minutes to check for any adverse effects or damage to your hair. If everything tests okay and you are happy with the color, then you can proceed with the highlighting process.

Lastly, a few application tips:

• Start in the back of the head.

• Leave out hair in between foils.

• Don’t over highlight the hair.

• To speed up the process, you can heat the foils up with a hair dryer.

• To prevent chemical damage, continually check the hair in the foils. Set a timer for every 3-5 minutes.

Highlights using a Cap

• Place the cap on your head and pull it down snugly.

• Using the hook, puncture the designated holes in the cap starting as close to your front hair line as possible. Come in at a slight angle for best results.

• For thin highlights that generally blend in, pull out thin sections of hair. Do this by not allowing the hook to penetrate your hair deeply. If you want thick bold highlights pull large sections by going deeper into your hair.

• Continue to pull out the desired amount of strands of hair.

• Once all the hair is pulled through the cap, using your protective gloves, prepare the highlighting mixture.

• Coat all the pulled out sections thoroughly and use your fingers in a lathering motion to be sure no hair is missed.

• Set timer for the designated processing time.

• Once the time is up remove the cap and rinse your hair thoroughly. Avoid shampooing your hair as the cuticle of the hair is still slightly open. Washing may prematurely remove or fade your new hair highlights. Instead rinse very well and apply a conditioner to seal the cuticle and moisturize the hair shaft.

• Towel dry and finish with a hair dryer.

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