Although I have never highlighted my hair before, I’ve thought about it more than a hundred times. I have red hair and frequetly get asked “Is that your natural color?” It is, and it has become a favorite of mine. But there are some times when I think about brightening it with a teeny-tiny strawberry blonde highlight for a change that, really, only I would notice.
The same logic always comes out of the internal dilemma: Don’t fix what’s broken. The back and forth helped me to form an opinion about the merits of a blonde highlight. This is a subtle lightening of your natural hair color that hits the baby hairs around your face. It creates a look that’s divine (or UV-)given.
For the tone, colorist Sienree Du encourages a “warm and rich” blonde, something with leaning toward golden or wheat. This has two advantages: First, warm tones reflect light, making them appear shiny. Second, cool tones can make blondes look duller or more dry. Warmer shades can also bring out the warmth of your skin, which is especially helpful when you are heading into cooler, darker months.
According to L.A.-based colorist Bianca Hillier, who I consider to nail the dark-to-believably-blonde lift, balayage is a great option. She discusses how to create “ribbons of blonde through the hair.” This gives you a high-contrast color and allows for easy grow-outs. Hillier states that a chunkier highlight is the current trend. “I prefer to describe the color as ‘ribbons of blonde’, rather than little pops of light. These ribbons lighten the hair. These ribbons, which are thinner and more blended, are very realistic.”
My favorite piece of advice is about where to place a highlight. It’s right around my face. Hillier says this is the best spot for a highlight. The “money-piece highlight” will keep you away from the salon for six months to one year. Hillier says that baby hairs around your face tend to grow slower so they last longer. That blonde will last if you increase the volume of your baby hairs.
Another tip for highlight longevity: purple shampoo and regular hair treatments. “Olaplex 0 and 3 are great for blondes,” Hillier recommends. Hillier admits that my natural red hair may not benefit from a treatment to lock in chemical colors… but, if I do decide to go strawberry blonde, there is an easy maintenance plan.