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How to Highlight Your Own Hair at Home

Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

If you are bored and would like to liven up your evening, why not highlight your own hair? It may be a challenge, but it can be done.

If you are bored and would like to liven up your evening, why not highlight your own hair? It may be a challenge, but it can be done.

I have naturally brown hair. Or at least the last time I saw its natural color, which was many, many years ago, it was brown. I like to change my hair color often. I've been a redhead, a brunette, sort of a blonde once, and even dyed my hair black for Halloween one year. I even had a weird incident in which my hair turned purple. That one was just in time for the holidays!

Oh yes, good times.

Out of everything I've done to my hair, nothing is more difficult than adding my own highlights. For this reason, I rarely do it. However, every couple of years I decide I want a "fresh look" or maybe I just don't have enough excitement in my life, and I highlight my own hair.

You see, doing all of your hair one color is easy. The highlights are a pain. I love to cut my own hair, try new styles, and try new colors. When people ask me about highlights, I always say, "You should never do your own highlights! It is just too difficult. I do my own, but I am crazy."

So yes, the time has come again. I decided to ruin a perfectly good evening by doing my own highlights in my hair again. If you are interested in also taking a perfectly nice day and destroying it, I am happy to explain the highlighting process. Please feel free to do the same in your own spare time!

Buy this stuff!

Buy this stuff!

How to Dye Your Hair at Home

  1. My first piece of advice to you is: Do yourself a favor and buy the Hairpainting Kit by Clairol Nice 'N Easy. While the stores sell the kind with the cap where you pull your hair through, don't do that. If you buy the hair painting stuff, it is much easier to apply and a lot less painful.
  2. Next, I like to get out a bunch of pieces of aluminum foil. I know the instructions do not say to do this. However, if you've ever seen people getting highlights done in the salon, you will see the stylist using aluminum foil. If they are doing it, so should you. Start yanking out many pieces of aluminum foil. I would say about 30 sheets. You might need more. Just keep the box with you in the bathroom.
  3. Then you need to put the gloves on, stir up the concoction in the box, and then start applying the mixture. Take small chunks of hair and apply the highlighting mix to your hair. There will be a handy little brush in the box. You can use that to apply it to your hair.
  4. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom of each chunk of hair you want to be highlighted. Remember that your hair will look fuller when it dries, so don't go too crazy with too much hair.
  5. After putting the mixture on a section of hair, use the aluminum foil to wrap around it. Most of the time, the foil is going to try to fall or fold the wrong way. At this moment, it is OK to curse at the foil and force it to work correctly. If not, banish that piece to the trash can and use the next piece. You just showed it who is boss! Now you know why you needed so much aluminum foil.
  6. After wrapping the foil around that chunk of hair, go to the next spot. It can be difficult to determine which spots will need to be highlighted. It is a good idea to highlight pieces of hair all around the frame of your face. You will also want to highlight wherever you normally part your hair. If you part your hair on the right side of your head sometimes, and then the left side of your head at other times, guess what? You are going to have to highlight BOTH sides of your head then. Yeah. Welcome to my world. Also, make sure to get some pieces in the back. You are going to need a handheld mirror to look in the main mirror to make sure you get it all. Are we having fun yet?
  7. Once you've done all of this, the first part of your hair that you started with forever ago should be done. Yank that aluminum foil off and take a look. If it looks good, awesome. If it is not blonde enough or red enough (depending on your color choice), put more of the mixture on that patch of hair and wrap yet another piece of foil around that bunch. Fun times!
  8. By this time, you are going to look like some type of alien walking around with chunks of aluminum foil-wrapped hair all over your head. Take this time to scare your friends, family members, and pets with this look. Also, look for any highlighting goo that may have dropped on clothing, sinks, the floor, etc. Now is the time to clean it up.
  9. Finally, it is time to start removing the foil. Start with the hair you highlighted first and then work your way around. If it took you a painfully long time to do the whole process, remember the hair you got to last is probably not going to be blonde (or red) enough yet. Oh yeah. Check a little under the aluminum foil and you will probably see that. Silently curse again and then resume the fun of tormenting those around you with your Medusa-aluminum-foil-hair look.
  10. If you've taken off some of the foil and noticed there are patches of hair that should have been highlighted, but weren't, have no fear. Glob on some more highlighting gunk before it completely dries and wrap more foil around those areas. Yes, that just set you back, but it is better taking some extra time rather than having unevenly highlighted hair. Also, somewhere along the line in the process, you've probably thrown out the gloves. I know I did. I just used my bare hands, and yes, I know my skin will flake off in a couple of days for it. That is all part of the adventure!
  11. By now, you should finally be able to take all the aluminum foil off. I hope it looks good. If not, this is exactly the reason Clairol Natural Instincts exist. Go get yourself a nice box of it tomorrow. I recommend a nice ash blonde color. That will really get rid of the brassy look and tone down everything. If it is really terrible and you don't want anyone to ever know this experience ever happened, get a darker color that closely matches your natural hair color. Natural Instincts is nice and gentle, and you can pretend this whole night never happened.

I do hope your hair actually turned out well.

Make sure to shampoo all the goo out of your hair and then use the conditioner that came in the box. If you had the patience to do everything I listed, then chances are, you are looking good.

My hair turned out better than expected, but I do still have my box of Natural Instincts I bought with the highlights just in case. I will add that to my hair tomorrow just to tone down the brassy look a bit. Always wait 24 hours after shampooing your hair before using hair color, though.

I hate to say this, but if it looks really bad, you might just want to stay in for 24 hours and then put the hair color in your hair. Sorry. I warned you not to do highlights on your own hair, didn't I? I told you I was crazy!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Jeannie Marie

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Iqra Ahmad 786 on June 05, 2020:

hello Jeannie! a very informative article, I appreciate your effort, I have also written an article on this topic please have a look at this and give me your precious suggestions to improve my writing skills

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 01, 2013:

Ouch! I don't like those caps at all. I do the hairpaint kind or nothing at all. I hope you recover from that quickly! Thanks for checking out my hub.

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on February 01, 2013:

Loved this! I ruined an evening a while ago with an at-home cap dye from a box. I haven't used a cap dye since! haha

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on January 06, 2013:

I've found putting the ash blonde color on my hair after highlighting it always tones it down. I don't know what they do at the salon, since I've never paid for highlights, but I am assuming they use a similar technique. Thanks for checking out my hub!

Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on January 05, 2013:

Great read Jeannie! I have brown hair too - but I had no idea how much red was deep down in the strands. I ended up orange - just like so many others. Now I pay someone to give me highlights. If I end up orange again at least I can blame someone else!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on January 05, 2013:

I was highlighting my hair this afternoon myself (and that is why I added a new photo), and it turned out better than in the past. Each time I do it, I am better at it than before. It is a real challenge the first time though. Good luck if you give it a try!

emilybee on January 05, 2013:

Cool hub, I've considered doing my own highlights but I've only had my hair highlighted a few times. Those few times were very successful and I don't know if I want to chance it ;)

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on July 13, 2012:

rebeccamealey - I've found the more I do it, the better I get with highlights. I just don't trust other people touching my hair! I am weird like that. Thanks for dropping by!

mary615 - I envy your daughter. I've always secretly wanted to be a hair stylist, which is why I do my own hair and insist on doing other people's hair when they let me. I have really messed up my hair a time or two, but hey, at least it grows back. :-) Thanks for the vote up!

moonlake - I'll bet your hair is very pretty. Red hair is always nice. I guess sometimes highlights are a must though with some grey hairs. I have some evil grey hairs on my head, too, which is why I either highlight or color my hair regularly now. Thanks for the vote up!

moonlake from America on July 12, 2012:

I have red hair but have always added highlights or just brightened it up from way back. I have to do it now because I have an ugly grey coming in. Some women have pretty grey hair I'm not one of them. I have made my share of making mistakes but I hate beauty shops they make more mistakes than I do. In fact tomorrow I'm adding some hightlights. I have needed to get to it for awhile now. Great hub voted up.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 12, 2012:

My daughter, the hair stylist would get a kick out of this Hub. She just loves it when someone comes in to her AFTER they have really screwed up their hair, and beg her to fix it!

You are a brave soul for even trying to do this.

I voted UP, etc.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 12, 2012:

I never had any luck coloring my own hair. I decided years ago to leave it to the pros. Now that I have gotten older Mother Nature has been doing a great job highlighting it with streaks of grey. Slap on a temp hair rinse and voila, blondish hair at a fraction of the cost! Cute Hub, great read!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on July 12, 2012:

mythicalstorm273 - Haha... I guess it would have been worth waiting for your sister to do your hair. I used to help my mother color her hair when I lived at home, but she usually never helped me color mine. She did cut my hair when I was a kid, too. Oh fun times! Thanks for the comment!

Fennelseed - I know exactly what you mean. Each time I highlight my own hair, I swear it is the last time. I've actually highlighted my hair AGAIN just since I wrote this hub. I have issues, I guess. :-) I am glad you enjoyed my hub and thanks for the votes!

Annie Fenn from Australia on July 12, 2012:

I used to highlight my hair from time to time and your description could well have been me - tangled bits of foil, chunks of hair way to wide, globs of goop on clothing, basin and floor and those gloves, ever taken them off when covered in goop and have them turn inside out and then decide again that you really should put them back on... not a good idea!!!

Each new time I did this I would tell myself that it would be easier because I should have learnt from my mistakes and 'this time' it would work for me!!! No - it's been a good five years or so since my last disaster and I can now walk straight past those highlighting packs on the store shelves without a second glance. I've come a long way!

Thank you for your entertaining advice and for reminding me how strong I have become to resist the urge to do it again. Lovely hub that I think many women will relate too. My votes and best wishes to you Jeannieinabottle!!!

mythicalstorm273 on July 12, 2012:

I used to have my sister highlight my hair when I was in like 7th grade. One day when I wanted it done she was not available so my mom offered to do it for me. I honestly do not even remember how we used to highlight my hair, but at that moment I ended up a blonde for a few months and ever since then I have stayed as far away from any hair color that I see! I enjoyed being blonde for one time in my life though and look back on the pictures with a smile on my face. Still it can be a mishap for sure. I enjoyed reading this because I just chuckled at my own memory the whole time I was reading about your advice!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 29, 2012:

For highlighting hair, yes, that can be the safest way to go. For trimming or coloring hair, it is super easy to do on your own! Thanks for checking out my hub!

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on February 29, 2012:

Note to self: pay a professional to do my hair! LOL! Fun hub!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 26, 2012:

Thanks, Jamie! Sometimes I get bored and do bad things to my hair. I need to remember how annoying home highlights can be while doing them. Yes, each time, I go into it with fresh hope.

Jamie Brock from Texas on February 25, 2012:

This is hilarious! Thank you for sharing :0)

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 24, 2012:

Angela - I tried to go from black hair to blonde hair once. It was terrible! It went to a patchy blonde, brown, red, and black mess. My friend called it a calico look. It was a nightmare to get it to look normal and just plain brown. I will never bleach my hair completely blonde again without a professional. You were very brave!

Melovy - I am sure dying your hair just one color won't ruin the evening too much. Sorry about that! The next time you want to ruin things, go for highlights instead. ;-)

Cloverleaf - I've got to be honest, even after adding a little blondish brown hair coloring, I still have a slightly orange tone going with my hair right now. People keep telling me it looks good though, so whatever. I will just either try to get it to blonder in a few weeks or just turn it red. I don't fuss over my hair like I used to do. I have a "whatever" kind of mentality now.

Thanks everyone for reading and sharing your own hair experiences!

Cloverleaf from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 24, 2012:

Hi Jeannie, I once highlighted my hair and it went orange - it was pretty bad LOL. However, it didn't put me off coloring my own hair, I just use the boxes of dye now, they always work well for me.

Yvonne Spence from UK on February 24, 2012:

Well, I’m glad you’ve given me instructions on how to ruin my evening, because I was planning to dye my hair tonight, though since I’m just planning to do it all one colour I’ll probably not spoil the evening too much. Drats!

Clever you making a fun hub about this!

angela p from Richmond, Virginia on February 24, 2012:

I know all about having one of those exciting evenings. I didn't just highlight, I went all out and bleached my entire head. I had black hair and was going for blonde. Took a long time to get there but I did. I am now doing it for the second time after going back to brunette. I could kick myself! I forgot how crazy this process is. Gotta love orange hair!!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 24, 2012:

Deb - Oh, I love red hair. I regularly dye mine red and always get compliments. If you are only coloring your hair, that should be pretty easy. Sometimes red can go a little wrong when you do it yourself, but since your hair is already red, I don't think it should be a problem. Just don't go with anything that claims to be "bright auburn." That is how my hair ended up purple once before.

lifeintoronto - Highlighting your own hair can be a challenge. I would really only recommend it for people who actually enjoy doing their own hair and view it as a fun challenge. I have cut my own hair, too. I just cut it a couple of weeks ago because I had split ends. In the past, I've cut it to a nice shoulder length, too. It is not as difficult as highlights.

Thanks you both for the comments!

lifeintoronto from Toronto on February 24, 2012:

Hm I have never tried highlighting my hair. But I ruined it a few times by simply dying it. I guess it's time to take the next step. Have you ever tried to give yourself a haircut by chance? :-)

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 24, 2012:

I have red hair, a color that makes total strangers stop me on the street to ask if it's my natural color or who my colorist is. I used to hate it when I was a kid (what kid wants to be different?) but grew to appreciate it, and have never colored my hair, ever. (Just think of all the money I've saved!) But sadly, my hair is getting lighter and lighter as I get older and more white comes in (to the point that someone recently told me they liked my "highlights"). So I'm thinking I may have to bite the bullet soon and put some color back in. But I don't know that I'll ever be brave enough to do it myself!

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