Hair Style Advice: A Beginner's Guide To Highlighting

Highlighting can seem like a difficult procedure, but it is actually quite easy and straightforward.

If you highlighted your hair today, you certainly wouldn't be the first. In fact, it's far more likely that you're the last with un-highlighted hair, as the cosmetic trend has become more and more popular both stateside and abroad. It makes sense that we would find it attractive: highlights lend variation and depth (and even volume) to hair that perhaps has been looking a bit boring in monotone.

The question that remains, of course, is how you get started. You have the option of seeking professional help with your first highlights, which would be recommendable given the strategy required of good-looking highlights. Furthermore, there are all types of highlights, some which only occur right around your face, those that cluster at the crown, and others that split evenly across your part. A hairdresser or colorist will be far more knowledgeable than you are as to what type and color of highlights would be most appropriate for you. Seeking professional help, however, does come at a cost. Highlights themselves can drain you of anywhere from $30 (this would truly be extraordinary and is rarely found outside of basement-based businesses) to $150+.

Obviously, administering the highlights yourself would be much cheaper. You can purchase a kit (several are made by the big brands- L'Oreal, Herbal Essence, etc.) for under $10. For the actual application, it might be wise to solicit the aid of a particularly beauty-savvy friend. Nearly all the kits consist of a highlighting "cap" (this is a plastic bonnet with holes for the hair-to-be-highlighted to emerge from), a highlighting "pick" (a tool reminiscent of a knitting needle that you gingerly use to pull hair through the highlighting cap holes), the actual coloring materials, and instructions. The more "modern" highlighting kits may opt for a different means of giving you highlights, such as one offered by Feria that includes a comb rather than a pick and no cap. Keep in mind that though this type of highlighting may be considered more dramatic and cutting-edge, it also has a higher potential to smear and color the hair surrounding the highlight. Another advantage, in general, of using kits is that they will (or at least should) provide a detailed explanation on the outside of the box of what type of highlights for which that particular product has been designed. For example, some kits are touted as "subtle" and "natural," while others describe themselves as "bold" and "adventurous."

Highlighting is a permanent process, so whatever route you decide to take, you should spend plenty of time contemplating whether or not you truly want them. Like any other fad of the hair world, highlights (despite their enduring popularity) will eventually fall out of fashion. Also, highlights can be painfully obvious during their growing out stage. You can either pretend not to notice that you have six-inch dark roots connecting your blonde, "sun" streaks to your scalp, or you will have to get them retouched. In the case of the latter, you're making a fairly long-term commitment that will require maintenance and attention. But, then again, for the glisten and dimension of hair that purrs Hollywood, who wouldn't put in a little extra work?

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