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What are highlights?

The Hair Color Process

Nancy Braun (Master Colorist) gives expert video advice on: What are highlights?; What is 'balayage'?; How often should I highlight my hair? and more...

What are highlights?

Highlights are sections or pieces of hair that are lighter than the rest of the hair. So you've also heard of the term lowlights. Lowlights would give you a constrasting colour or a darker colour but highlights are meant to be bright and to pick up some bright pieces in the hair.

What is 'balayage'?

Balayage is a French technique, it comes from a root word "to balay" which means to sweep and it's a sweeping motion. To balayage is a highlighting technique where you take highlighting product or some type of hair coloring and you actually free-form hair paints. You pick up a section of hair and free-form applying that product to the hair in order to give you either a lighter shade or a darker shade. Balayage is different from traditional highlighting, in that most people highlight with foil. Balayage is designed to give your hair a little bit more on natural look. More like children's hair. When you a child's hair and you see the streaks and the pieces coming, they're not always the same. Sometimes they start a little closer to the root area sometimes they startled a bit further away but they're in different sizes and different shapes. And that's the type of highlighting you can achieve with the balayage.

How often should I highlight my hair?

When women are trying to determine how often to highlight their hair, it really depends on several factors: One, what their natural color is, and how light they're trying to go. With my clientele I like to see my clientele about every three months, not too much sooner. But there are some people who like a little bit heavier of a highlight and they may come in every six weeks. So you're going to find that the time period is going to be anywhere between four weeks for those who really want to see a lot of color, to twelve weeks.

How has highlighting evolved?

It started years, and years ago. But, in the 60's there was a movie called Breakfast at Tiffany's, and some of us will remember Audrey Hepburn had these very, big pieces of Highlight through her hair and all the women wanted that. And in the 60's they used these little plastic caps, where it almost looked like a Dixie cup, and you would take hair and put it in that in order to lighten it. Then we used a frosting cap where you would take a bonnet and put it over someone's head and use a needle and actually take hair out in order to separate that and highlight it. And that was called frosting. And then in the 70's, in the 80's is where highlighting really became a thing in the United States where more and more people were doing it. When the 90's came around, there was much more emphasis on smooth and shiny hair. The days of the perms were over, so coloring, really, took on a very strong part of our culture. And the Biolage[sp] technique has been around through all this time, but in the 90's and in the year 2000, you find many more people do it. And you'll see it on the actresses and you'll see many, more people wearing Biolage then before. But, that's how Highlighting has progressed and evolved over the last 40 years.

What is 'permanent hair color'?

Permanent hair color is hair color that contains ammonia and peroxide. And the reason that they called it permanent hair color is that it makes a chemical change to the structure of the hair. So permanent hair color you can get in a hair salon, you can also get it in a box at the supermarket. And it's a type of product that's really designed for gray coverage, and changing your hair anywhere between one and two shades. Maybe three shades, depending on the particular product.

What's the difference between 'semi-permanent' and 'demi-permanent' hair color?

Semi-permanent color is a type of hair color that is really designed to last about six shampoos. But in our day and time, we use a term called demi-permanent hair color, and demi-permanent is designed to last anywhere between six and eight weeks, depending on the brand of hair color and how it was used.

What is a 'single process color'?

A Single Process Color is when you apply color and it can be a demy permanent or permanent or semi permanent color. in order to make a change to the hair, so your either looking to do one of three things. your looking to lighten the hair. Your looking to darken it or, perhaps cover gray or change the tone. so when your doing this Single Process Color you are altering and changing the over all shade of your hair .

What is a 'dual process color'?

A dual process color, or sometimes referred to as a double process, is a technique where you would do a single process, and you would perhaps maybe cover gray or lighten and do that first, rinse out the product, dry the hair. Some people actually do apply highlights on damp hair. And do a second process which would be highlighting in order to create contrast.

Are there any limitations for color processing?

There are limitation for color processing to the amount of processing to hair. Hair is a fiber. It's very much like fabric and some people have hair that is more like silk. So it's much more fragile. Other people have hair that is more like burlap so it's hardier. There are limitations to hair and what you can do with it. Experts know that and a lot of times feel it in their stomach. There'll be a gut feeling, I can't push this too far. So hydrating the hair, making sure the clients are using great products and knowing when to stop.