Monday, April 25, 2011

Hair Highlight Tutorial

Today I thought I'd show everyone how I highlight my own hair. To be completely honest, it's pretty easy since my hair is so short. If my hair was long, it would hang in my face and I wouldn't be able to see what I was doing! So let that be a warning to everyone who has long hair. Perhaps you could have someone assist you.

*Attempt this at your own risk! I am not responsible for any damage you do to your own hair!

Step One: Choosing a color.
My hair is virgin other than the highlights I'm touching up. That means I can use color or bleach depending on what I want. If you have ANY color on your hair (semi-permanent included) even if it was several months ago, color alone will not lighten it. Color does not lighten color.
Another caution - do NOT bleach over bleached hair. You will fry your hair and it will break right off. Please use common sense.
Believe it or not, I used a light ash brown with 40 volume developer. Since all dark hair contains a ton of red, the red in my hair overpowered the ash in the color and the color still turned out very warm. I knew that would happen and I'm fine with it. The little bit of ash took down the red just a notch and I love what I'm left with. If I wanted something more neutral I could have bleached it first then applied the desired color as a toner.  I want to keep my hair on the healthy side so I stuck with regular hair color.

Step Two: Collect your supplies
You'll need a rat tail comb (I prefer the ones with metal "tails"), a bowl and brush for your color, a mirror so you can see what you're doing, a slightly damp towel for cleaning up your fingers and any other mess, lots of clips to keep hair out of the way, and foil.
Cut the foil into strips and fold over the short end about a 1/4 inch 3-4 times so you have a more rigid edge.

Step Three: Protect your clothing with a T-shirt you don't mind ruining.

Step Four: Section off the front part of your hair. Keep in mind the way your bangs will lay.  Mine get parted to the side so my first foil with be on the "heavy" side of my bangs. Use your clips to keep the rest of your hair out of the way.

Step Five: Take your first "slice"
All my slices are on the diagonal. I chose to slice because this will give you the most color per swipe, make it easier to find and touch-up later and requires fewer foils for more dramatic results. I used only 8 foils and it looks like I have a lot more in there.
I took an 1/8 inch "slice" through the section and slid a piece of foil under it with the folded edge against my scalp. As you can tell from the picture, even my slice wasn't perfectly straight but still managed to turnout okay. Do the best you can. Go ahead and paint on the color staying about an 1/4 inch away from your scalp. You might want to clip the foil in so it doesn't move on you.

Step Six: Fold your foil.
Fold up the end of your foil to cover the color. I usually fold it up in thirds but if you just folded it in half that would be fine too. Then fold over the sides. Now you have a neat little packet. Try not to move it too much. If it gets moved too much, color might bleed out of the foil and make your hair splotchy.
Step Seven: Add more slices
Take your next slice about an inch behind the other and line up your slices on either side of your part. Do as many or as little as you'd like. The farther back on your head you go the harder it is to see what you're doing.

Step Eight: Process your color.
Follow the manufacturers directions when it come to processing. When time is up, wash, condition and style.

Step Nine: Enjoy the results!


  1. I really like the way that it turned out. I am going to attempt this. So we wil see how I do.

  2. I am so impressed! I really want to learn to do it myself because it is such a waste to pay for it when you are on a very tight budget because it is soooo expensive.
    Thanks Alicia, Bernadette

  3. I found you when I was looking for hair highlight. Im planning to do the highlight. I love the way you hair looks, thanks for sharing.

  4. I plan on putting up tutorials for kids haircuts. So stayed tuned.... :)

  5. This is very helpful for a DIY highlight virgin. But my hair is pretty long, halfway down my back - any tips? When folding in the foil, do you recommend long strips, or curling the section of hair into the foil, or more strips of foil per section of hair?

    1. It's tricky to try to highlight long hair by yourself. In the picture where I am applying the color, you can see how long hair will be covering your face making it hard to peek in the mirror. Maybe someone can help you?
      You can certainly use longer strips of foil or just swirl the ends up into a shorter foil. If you swirl it up, it most likely will be a bit tangled when you wash it out. I hope that is helpful!

  6. One of the hardest DIY projects is highlighting especially if you have no one to assist you. Alicia is so lucky for having short hair and a great looking highlight. But for people who find it hard (just like how I did the first time), it would be wise to ask a friend for help. That would make highlighting easier and definitely more fun to do.

    Stela Dimitrov

  7. How would I dye my friends hair black then put pink streaks in it I have no foil or the things that r used how can we do it with out all that?

  8. check out for a new tool to highlight, lowlight and do all kinds of creative hair color. it's a new tool that takes the place of foils plus it's washable and reusable. easy to use for do it yourself home hair colorists. and especially great for curly hair. I use them and love them.