Miss the salon? Here’s how to use home highlight kits
From gel nails and home pedicures to DIY facials, DIY versions of our favourite treatments have become the new normal. What’s also become increasingly popular is using one of many excellent home highlight kits, whether you’re refreshing your blonde highlights, want to add depth to brown hair with highlights, or fancy rocking a bold new colour.
With so many advances in at-home haircare, you no longer have to go to a salon to achieve multi-tonal colour. It can be pretty daunting highlighting your own hair so before you begin read our six golden rules for highlighting hair at home. Then once you've picked the with right kit, face-framing highlights or a low-maintenance balayage effect is achievable. With everyone spending a bit more time at home these days, we can afford to experiment with different styles and colours. So we can still feel our best – even if it is just for a Friday night Zoom call.
Types of highlights
Highlights: Uniform pieces of colour distributed evenly in small sections throughout the hair, often separated by foils. Highlights tend to come right up to the root and can be fine or chunky, depending on technique.
Balayage: Colour painted on freehand without the use of foils for a more natural look. Often applied in larger sections, and blended through the natural hair colour.
Ombré: Colour applied to create the effect of darker roots and lighter ends. Most ombré effects are applied using the balayage technique.
What home highlight kits should contain
- Comb applicator, or cap and hook
- Lightening formula
- Gloves (and sometimes a bowl)
- Conditioning after-treatment
- Instructions (read these thoroughly and always carry out a skin test)
Applying with a comb applicator
A comb applicator will distribute dye through the hair for a highlighted effect. Use the one that comes in the highlight kit, orbuy a paddle brushor aprofessional highlighting paddle. Alternatively, wearing gloves, use your fingers as shown in this vlog. A comb applicator or paddle brush can also be used to create a balayage effect – follow these steps fromSuperdrug.
The foil method
If you really know what you’re doing, or you're happy to give it a go, use foils like some hairdressers do. You can buy professional hairdresser foils here. This YouTube tutorial shows you how to highlight your roots using foils.
The cap and hook method
Alternatively, use a cap and hook. Some highlight kits have a cap instead of a comb, but you can also buy a professional highlights cap and hook set. This YouTube video shows you how.
Popular highlight kits that give salon-worthy results
Working particularly well on light to dark brown hair, expect an ‘unrivalled lift of up to 8-9 shades’ from this highlighting kit from ‘the UK’s number one blonding brand’, which also promises professional results and ‘enhanced hydration and shine’ thanks to the addition of avocado oil.
Hip hair colour specialists Bleach launched this kit in the midst of lockdown to help their loyal fans create pro-style balayage without a salon visit. The kit contains bleach to lift the hair, a tint brush to apply the bleach, the Champagne Super Toner Kit to add creamy tones and balayage Board to help with neat highlighting.
A clever kit to make that tricky ombre technique easier to pull off at home. This contains a special applicator brush to assist with blending the lightened ends and root sections, plus a super conditioning mask to keep your hair shiny and soft after dyeing. Christophe Robin, Expert Colourist for L'Oréal Paris, advises, "Intense Ombré is ideal to affirm your look, and your roots stay untouched. For best results start your Intense Ombré between ear and chin level."
It can be nerve racking lightening your hair all in one go, so why not try this gradual lightening spray instead. This would work well if you want to create face framing lights, as you can simply isolate those strands for a gentle spray and lighten treatment once a week. It's super easy to use, just mist in and blow dry with your best hair dryer, the results are gradual so you won't get any nasty surprises with the colour.
This nifty little number, designed with greying hair in mind, takes the trickiness out of home highlighting by blending grey and natural hair to create multi-tonal hair colour with high and low tones as if the hair’s been highlighted. It’s easy to apply too.
This clever pouch works instantly to tone down brassy tones in colour-treated and highlighted hair, so if your issue is that your blonde tones have taken on a new, less flattering tinge, this could well be the solution to your hair problems. 'It leaves my hair super soft and gloriously shiny and the best bit.... white blonde once more!' wrote one shopper on the brand's website.
£5.99, Lookfantastic.com If you want super-shiny hair (and let's face it, who doesn't?) opt for L'Oréal Paris' latest hair dye innovation - Colourista Permanent Gel. Personalise your look with an ombré or balayage effect. These shades are bright and bold if you're wanting to try something different and daring or enhance your existing shade. 'It feels much more expensive than it is' wrote one happy customer on the brand's website.
To get the on-trend bronde look, which gives subtle but luminous blonde highlights and a salon shine to brown hair, opt for a L’Oreal home balayage kit – it comes with a clever bush to separate the hair for natural looking highlights that last for up to eight weeks.
If you need a very quick fix for those Zoom meetings or FaceTime catch-ups, Superdrug’s Dry Shampoo Golden Goddess and Cocoa Brownie offer a hint of colour. Ideal for an emergency temporary root cover-up, it also allows you to create a natural balayage – and it's vegan-friendly, too.