Hairstylists love to give highlights to their clients, and I am no exception. Highlights are a terrific way to refresh a tired hairstyle, amp up hair color, or create movement and change without a huge commitment. And with an ever-growing tool box of highlighting techniques, most stylists enjoy creating new and fun looks for their clients. Whether you do your own highlights or depend on your stylist, sometimes they don't come out like you want. Sometimes this happens because of application error, product error, or unknown chemical on or condition of the hair (i.e., hormonal changes due to a surprise pregnancy). Most of the time, though, it happens for no apparent reason: the hair has just reacted unpredictably. Regardless of the cause, here are a few highlighting mistakes and what can be done about them.
Too light. Highlights can get too light if the lightener has been left on too long or if your hair just lightens very quickly. If you like everything else about the highlights, this can be fixed very easily. A toner (which is a form of demi-permanent hair color) can be applied to the hair to adjust the brightness and even the hue of the highlights. It usually only takes a few minutes and some stylists don't charge for this service (some do, so make sure you ask first!). Because this color is lighter than the non-highlighted hair, it won't have an effect on anything other than the highlights. Toner can also be used to remove brassiness or a yellow hue in the highlights, so don't be afraid to speak up if you want your highlights adjusted.
Not light enough. If the highlights didn't come out bright enough, it's probably because you have very dark hair and you may need to adjust your expectations. However, if you want them to be lighter, your stylist may be able to apply more lightener (if the highlights are still in the foils) or redo them altogether if they are not.
Splotchy. Sometimes, temperature fluctuations in the salon or in your own body heat can cause the lightening product to expand and contract. This can cause it to leak out of the foils and leave light blotches on the surrounding hair. Most of the time, you will never see it or even know it's there. If you do see it or want it fixed, your stylist can easily recolor the small area.
Too subtle. If the look isn't dramatic enough for you, you may want to have a few more chunky highlights added in. For more drama, ask for panels, large chunks, or back to back foils.
Too dramatic. If the highlights came out too dramatic or too chunky, next time ask for finely weaved highlights. In the meantime, your stylist can add some very fine lowlights to help compensate.
Highlights are definitely one of the best ways to update your hair color. Highlighting mistakes can cause frustration and disappointment. Don't be afraid to speak up if you aren't thrilled with your highlights - usually just a few small tweaks will turn your highlighting experience into a great one.