All About Highlighting
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All About Highlighting

What you need to know before you take the plunge.

Are Highlights for You?

Looking for an instant way to add oomph to your look? Coloring your locks is a great option -- and highlighting is one of the beauty buzzwords that first come to mind.

Highlights can enhance the face, add dimension and shine, and when done correctly, the effect is, well...heavenly. But highlighting isn't the only option.

The Lowdown on Coloring Processes

Talk to your stylist to determine which of these techniques is best for you.

Highlights: Add light to hair; best in shades of gold, honey, amber, and rich reds. Highlights add a brighter dimension to hair color.

Lowlights: Add depth to hair. Used to make hair a few shades darker, or to break up an overlightened head of hair.

Foiling: Small sections of hair are placed onto rectangular sheets of foil and color or lightener is applied, and the foil is folded to keep color in place. Closest application to hair root of all highlighting techniques.

Baliage: Haircolor or lightener is "handpainted" freestyle onto select strands of hair; great for personalizing color on textured or wavy hair.

Chunk: Large sections of hair are lightened randomly to create the boldest highlighted look. Can be achieved through foiling or baliage.

Things to Consider

Ready to color? Keep these pointers in mind:

  • Highlights aren't just for blondes. Highlights enhance even the darkest hair color. Consider shades of amber for brunettes and medium, warm browns for black hair. Red is the only hair color for which highlights are not recommended: Lightening the hair with blonder highlights can take away from the already striking color and will cause brassiness (an unnatural coppery tone).
  • Show your colorist photos of looks you like. As everyone interprets color differently, a picture truly is worth a thousand words, especially when trying to express the look you want to your colorist. It will also help him determine the best process for achieving your desired results.
  • Start slowly. When beginning to add color, start slowly. Begin with highlights one or two shades lighter than your hair's base color, or just get a few highlights around the face to brighten up your cut. Remember, less is more, and can always add more highlights later.
  • Dealing with roots. Retouching is recommended every 8 to 12 weeks. However, personal taste comes into play here -- some women don't mind a little root showing, while others find it unacceptable.
  • Growing out highlights. Growing highlights out is different for everyone. Normally, you can expect to make a succession of salon visits for a gradual return to your normal base color.

For more information on Mark Garrison and his New York City salon, go to