Streaks and highlights are a great way to give your hair a colour make-over without resorting to a radical dye job, which is why they are one of the most popular treatments at the hair salon.
Besides having a brightening effect on your hair, streaks that are a little lighter than the natural colour can help give more visual volume to your barnet, particularly when the strands are ultra-fine.
When it comes to choosing the colour, remember that blonde highlights, just a shade or two lighter than the natural colour, create a softer look, while darker brown or black has a hardening effect on facial features and, when taken to extremes, can be quite audacious.
Bicolour or two-tone streaks – one lighter and one darker – are a useful technique to make hair look more voluminous, as well as giving it more life and movement.
This type of highlight can be particularly effective after holidays when the hair has been exposed to extreme sunshine: the natural sun-bleached effect can be very flattering in summer along with a tanned skin, but can be a little excessive when winter comes.
Bicolour highlights can also help relieve some of the dullness that dyes can leave over time.
If you have repeated highlights, when the lighter streaks are retouched, the hairdresser will often add low lights in a shade close to your natural colour in order to avoid the overall colour becoming too light.
Feel like doing it yourself?
You can, of course, skip the salon and take matters into your own hands. Do-it-yourself highlighting kits have taken a while to become popular, but now they are clearly here to stay. As with all home-colouring products, you need to read the instructions and follow them carefully to avoid damaging your hair.
- Don't use a highlight kit as if it were an all-over dye. You aren't aiming to end up blonde, just to add streaks to lighten the overall effect, so choose a colour that is just one or two shades lighter than your natural hair colour and don't overdo things.
- If the product is used on wet hair, be careful to select very fine strands: wet hair is deceptive and you may end up with heavy, unnatural looking streaks, which is not the effect you're looking for.
- Highlights should be placed where the sun would lighten the hair naturally – around the face and on the crown – rather than all over.
- Get help to get the look you want. Having a friend help you can be the best way to achieve a more natural effect.
- The darker the hair, the more red pigment it has in it, which means that when you lighten it more than a tone or two, you may end up with a radical shade of orange! That's why it's important not to go more than a shade or two lighter.