Your Complete Guide to Maintaining Your Highlights

Because there's no place for brassiness.

Your Complete Guide to Maintaining Your Highlights
Photo: Getty Images

Getting highlights is a great option for anyone who is growing tired of their current hair shade but not ready to make a full-blown change. In the same way that adding a set of bangs to a bob, getting partial or full highlights can completely transform your entire look.

The catch? Similar to bangs, highlights require a little extra upkeep. There's the issue of regrowth when you go super light, or dealing with brassiness when you add warmth to your base color. Not to mention, getting your hair dyed by a trained colorist doesn't come cheap.

"The most important thing to ask yourself before a highlight service is truly, what is my budget for this annually and how much maintenance can I commit to?" says Steven Picciano, a Goldwell National Artist. "Talk It over with your stylist to find what is right for you. There are many beautiful options, so something is sure to work for you."

Whatever style of highlights you decide to get, it's possible to keep your color fresh in-between visits to the salon by making a few tweaks in your haircare routine.

To find out how to maintain your highlights, we tapped top colorists for their expert tips.

Don't Over-Wash Your Hair

"A hair-washing regimen is dependent on the length, density, porosity and sensitivity of someone's hair, as well as how much product they use, and their lifestyle," says Min Kim, L'Oréal Professionnel Global Ambassador and Colorist.

With that in mind, as a general rule of thumb, Tauni Dawson, a celebrity colorist and L'Oréal Professionnel Ambassador, recommends washing highlighted hair every third day. "This way you aren't over-washing and still not getting too much product build-up in the hair," she says. When washing on day three, she recommends shampooing your hair twice and following up with a conditioner.

Look for a shampoo with a color-safe formula to prevent the highlights from fading, and use a hydrating conditioner to restore dryness and any damage from the color treatment.

Consider the Quality of Water in Your Shower

The minerals in the water in your area can majorly mess with your hair color. "I tell any client who lives in an old building in a city or has well water that a shower filter is crucial. They're not expensive, easy to install, and make a world of difference," Picciano says. "Mineral deposits on your hair will make your hair appear dull and yellow, so your bright blonde looks less than desirable. Also, excessive build up can interfere with future lightening services. If your stylist doesn't ask, be sure to mention that you may have hard water in your consultation."

In addition to adding a filter to your shower head, there are products that specifically address the negative effect the minerals in water can have on your hair. Kim recommends L'Oréal Professionnel's Metal Detox shampoo, conditioner, and mask. "These products will help protect and cleanse the hair of unwanted metals to maintain the salon service and integrity of the hair," the colorist explains.

Neutralize Brassiness With Color-Depositing Products

If you prefer cool highlights (especially if you're blonde), a color-depositing shampoo or mask can prevent your color from getting brassy.

"These products contain purple dyes that neutralize unwanted yellow tones," says Picciano. He recommends Goldwell's DualSenses Blonde and Highlights line, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, and 60-second treatment. "The pigments in these products are my favorite because they don't over tone or dull blonde hair, which many purple shampoos can do," the colorist adds.

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Don't Forget to Use a Heat Protectant

If you blow dry your hair and use a wand to add some waves or use an iron for a super-sleek finish, don't forget to protect your investment, meaning your hair color you spend your hard-earned cash.

"Heat styling can not only affect the integrity of your hair, but also change the color of your highlights over time," Dawson explains. "In order to protect your hair when heat styling, be sure to use a thermal protectant."

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