How To Highlight Your Hair From Home With DIY Colour Kits

The pros guide to getting it right

home highlight kit

by Grace Timothy |
Updated on

The jury is still out for DIY at-home hair colour (read the pro's for and against here), but if you're at the stage of wanting to experiment, it's worth knowing that DIY highlighting kits have come a long way in recent years in terms of both formula and results. Whether you want a balayage effect, a root touch-up, or a full block of one colour - there's now a kit out there for everything. And as Holly Willoughby recently revealed on Instagram - it can be surprisingly easy to dye your own hair at home (depending on the colour starting with and the tone you're trying to achieve).

Balayage – the technique of hand-painting highlights (think Rosie Huntington-Whitely’s sun-kissed hair) - is currently riding high in the trend stakes and it doesn’t require the same precision of traditional highlights. Follow the expert tips below and step-by-step guide to nail at-home highlights...

Step 1: Choose Your Venue Carefully

'I find highlights lift better if the room’s not too cold,' says John Frieda Colour Director, Nicola Clarke, 'Make sure it’s bright enough to see what you’re doing, too.' The bathroom is usually best, and bearing in mind the colour might drip and WILL ruin everything in its path, do it in the shower. A dry shower, obviously. Have some kitchen roll to hand to mop any drips. Jonathan Long, Clairol nice’n easy’s Colour Advisor suggests slicking a bit of Vaseline onto the top of your ears and nape of your neck. 'It creates a barrier against colour drips and will wash off easily with the colour.'

Step 2: Read The Instructions

Make sure you carefully read the home highlight kit instructions. Each product’s application will vary a little but all will require you to mix the product.

Next, lay out your tools. 'A pin tail comb and thin section clips are handy,' says Nicola, 'I like to paint on the colour with a fine comb around the hair line and the clips just help keep unwanted stray hairs out of the way.' You will need to fold a piece of foil, push the folded edge under the section you’re about to colour and apply with a brush – just like they do in the salon. And you might need two boxes of colour if you have really long or thick hair, advises Jonathan: 'Don’t scrimp!' Now, comb your hair and remove any jewellery.

Step 3: Apply Carefully As Per The Instructions And Set A Timer

'Work in 'hot-cross-bun' sections,' says Jonathan, 'Part your hair from the top of your forehead, down the back of your crown to the nape of your neck, and through the middle over your crown from the top of one ear to the other.' When it’s time to wash it off, check you’ve got the desired colour. 'Scrape the colour off one strand and check the level of lightness or darkness,' says Nicola, 'If you feel it's not the desired colour leave for another 5-10 minutes. But no longer!' Do not be tempted to reapply, wait until your next salon appointment to get some advice instead.

Step 4: Wash The Dye Off

Now, it’s shower-time. 'When it comes to washing off the colour, spend a few minutes emulsifying the product,' says Jonathan, 'Add a little water and massage the colour into the hair. Then shampoo and apply a conditioning treatment – all colour causes a certain amount of damage.'

So, What Can Go Wrong? And What Should I Do If It Does?

'Trying to take dark hair really light is never a good idea – without salon expertise and toners, it can go really orange,' cautions Nicola, 'Select a shade no more than 2 shades away from your natural colour.' If it doesn't look quite right, don’t be tempted to recolour yourself – wait until you can book back into a salon for a colour consultation.


Home highlight kits

Clairol Nice n Easy Permanent Hair Dye, £6.791 of 5

Clairol Nice n Easy Permanent Hair Dye, £6.79

Go for a cream hair dye, rather than gel, for expert precision (as it's less likely to run).

L'Oreal Paris Colorista Permanent Hair Effect Balayage, £7.992 of 5

L'Oreal Paris Colorista Permanent Hair Effect Balayage, £7.99

For a really natural effect, try L'Oreal Paris Colorista kit that comes with a brush to stroke the dye through the mid-lengths to ends. Follow with a Colorista washout if you want to experiment with pastel colours.

Josh Wood Permanent Colour, £103 of 5

Josh Wood Permanent Colour, £10

Expert colourist, Josh Wood has created a collection of at home colour kits that deliver salon-worthy results.

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly, £2.994 of 5

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly, £2.99

Apply vaseline or another barrier cream around the hair line to prevent hair dye from staining skin.

Sally Beauty Salon Services Tint Kit, £6.955 of 5

Sally Beauty Salon Services Tint Kit, £6.95

Everything you need for DIY highlights, make sure you're prepared with a brush and mixing bowl.

READ MORE: 8 Easy Steps To DIY Balayage Highlights At Home

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