Primp Tip: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Highlights

Primp Tip: The Smart Girl's Guide to Highlights
It’s time to lighten up, ladies. With summer right around the corner, now the time of year to go blonder or add some sun-kissed strands to your mane. I’ve gotten many requests to cover this topic, so I decided to compile my comprehensive guide to highlighting your hair. Below you will find my tips for keeping your highlights looking natural, your hair healthy, and your beauty budget in check.

Before I begin, let me just say that my No. 1 tip is to leave it to a professional. If you want professional-looking highlights, you’re going to have to pay for them. That said, I have a few suggestions to keep in mind before, during, and after your visit to the salon. Here’s how to keep your color bright and your roots in check…

Know the Key to Good Color
Step one of developing my own personal hairstyle was leaving the over-processed locks of my teenage years behind and embracing a much more natural aesthetic when it comes to coloring my hair. My rule of thumb is that your hair looks best when it’s closer to its natural color and texture. Embrace what your mother gave you, and then work to enhance it—not change it. The reason my own dirty-blonde locks work well is because they look like they look natural against my complexion. Work with a colorist you trust, and have faith in their professional opinion. Any good stylist would advise you not to shift your hair color more than one or two shades at a time.

Stretch Your Budget
Since I would only recommend having a professional handle your highlights, the key to wallet-friendly color is stretching the time between trips to the salon. Four to eight weeks is the standard amount of time between salon visits, but even that is a big window. The highlights that require the least amount of upkeep start only a shade or two darker than your natural hair color and fade into a lighter color toward the tips of your tresses. Depending on how light you want to go, you might want to try either a dirty-blonde-to-honey-blonde or honey-blonde-to-beach-blonde gradient. Lastly, ask your hairstylist to use a toning gloss to seal in the color and make it last longer. This (along with a color care shampoo and conditioner at home) will prevent your color from looking dull as the weeks go by.

Maintain Healthy Hair
Lightening your hair automatically puts it in more fragile territory. So when I’m at the salon getting my color done, I always ask for a deep conditioning treatment as well. It makes a big difference in keeping my hair looking healthy. If you have color treated hair, it is also a good idea to avoid styling products that have a lot of alcohol in them, like many hair sprays. Alcohol will dry out your stresses and leach out the color. I also recommend using use a heat-protecting product when you’re blowing out, curling, or straightening your hair.

Are you going to lighten up this summer?

Leave your own tips and experiences with color in the comments below.

XO Lauren

Photo: We Heart It
Categories: Hair, Lauren Conrad, Primp
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  • Monica_in_Heels
  • Ashley

    I would like to but I have such dark hair and I’ve never dyed it before.. With my dark locks, I’d get a caramel shade.

  • Jessie from the blog

    These are great tips, thanks, Lauren!
    Your hair is so pretty and it always looks natural..
    However, I liked the hot pink dip-dye on you a lot aswell!

    Big kiss
    Jessica from Jessie from the blog

  • Amanda Gongleski

    From doing everything from highlights to dip dyes to dying my natural blonde a deep red and back to currently a blonde ombre… my hair has been through it all.

    In addition to deep conditioning at the salon, I’ve also made it a habit to use a deep repair mask in the shower 2x a week as well. It really made a difference with the condition of my hair! :)

  • Katelin Absher

    I have never applied any type of color on my hair therefore I wet my hair in the pool and spray lemon juice and the sun turns it blonder..& since my hair has never had any chemicals it does not dry it out or damage it at all. Just condition well later!!

  • Brenna Gray

    I’ve always wanted to try coloring my hair, but I’m a natural redhead. My hair is a dark auburn color so anything would look kind of funny on me. Plus, people always tell me never to dye my hair so I listen to their advice and my own gut feeling. I just wish I could experiment more.

  • NidLid

    I recently colored my hair, so I love your maintenance tips!

    And I would love it if you guys checked out my fashion/blog! :)

  • Ashley Spa

    Something that has really helped me is putting baby powder on my roots! I can go 4 months between highlights!! I have a light mousy natural hair color so baby powder just makes it lighter! :)

  • Heather P.

    I totally agree that paying for professional highlights is the only way to go. Sure, it’s expensive up front, but trust me, paying to fix whatever at-home fiasco you may try is gonna cost you a lot more!

    I also have to stress to my stylist that I want NATURAL looking highlights. I happen to live in an area where women still think the “”skunk”” look is totally okay, so if you happen to see a lot of that around, stress to your stylist that you want to look natural, not skanky (or skunky).

  • Golf Chick 01

    I agree with paying for a professional….but on a single girls salary…sometimes that is not in the budget…I would love love to pay a professional every 6-8 wks to color my hair, paint my nails etc etc, but just not in the budget!…It would be great if Lauren would also share Smart Girls Guide to coloring/highlight for girls on a budget! Thanks!

  • Paulina Mo

    Great tips Lauren, love your hair… I’m still debating whether to lighten it or not :)

    my fashion blog:

  • debora f

    I love this look!
    I have already lightened for a long time and I love it!!

  • Kelby Peachey

    This is exactly why I STOPPED highlighting my hair. Too much upkeep, it got expensive, and my hair was damaged. I had to cut it pixie short in order to get rid of the color and it took two years to grow out my tresses. Of course, that was before the Ombre look was popular. :)

    I’ve learned to embrace my natural color at my age and will return to coloring/highlighting it when its necessary (white/grey hair appears!)


  • My Style Diary

    I already got highlights for the summer and I’m loving the way it looks. :)

  • Martin M

    I think it is very important to grow up and to find your own way of style. The hair color is one part of it. You have to find out what really reflects you and what you like.

  • Harmony

    I am natural blond with waist length hair but I like to step it up in summer with bright highlights in front and on my bangs. Its fun and be achy.

  • Audrey Kennedy

    I hear you with the “”let the professionals do it”” thing. Last summer I wanted to put some lighter brown highlightes in my almost-black hair myself, and they ended up turning blonde. :/ Learn from my mistakes!

  • Rachel Trampel

    I just got my hair foiled a couple weeks ago and love the lightness for summer! I plan to get just a few more highlights to be set :)

  • Franci Gire

    Great tips! And your hair looks fab!


  • Albert Peter

    Great Lauren..Very nice hair styles..

    Thanks for the sharing

  • Jen

    Thank you for this post!! It was helpful!

  • Jane OSullivan

    Brenna you so can highlight! I also have dark auburn hair and I highlight my lower locks and have my stylist blend in slight highlights on the top and front pieces that frame my face in an almost ombre sort of way. Have your colorist really mix your highlights with your natural color. It makes the auburn pop so much!

  • Brenna Gray

    What color do you use for your highlights?

  • Katie

    I stick to the natural look like you suggested. I have naturally dirty blonde hair and I just get some blonde highlights to brighten things up in the summer! :)

  • Charley

    I want to go to your colourist Lauren! Your hair always looks so nice!

  • Joann

    Hair fads come and go (Like fashion). However, I am in LOVE with this picture of the sequencing of your hair color.. how long do you see this fad(as in dark at top.. lighter on bottom) lasting? Blonde hair is expensive to keep up and this would be easier..

  • Leanne

    Great tips, thank you!

    Love from South Africa

  • Ireeniee

    who’s your colorist?

  • Deanne Castro

    Obsessed with The colour and style!

    For more fashion and beauty advice, check out my blog: VIDEO BLOG: – Today’s post: Cocoa Jewelry Giveaway!

    Follow me on Twitter – /Instagram: @MyFashAvenue /Pinterest:


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  • Sofia Alleyne

    I love it this guide and pic also.!!

  • Aanchal

    Wow! looking great! Healthy hairs make the perfect personality…

  • Aanchal

    Wow looking great! Healthy hairs really makes a good personality!

  • $hotgun $hortcake

    In the picture of LC here, she is wearing blonde extensions under her natural, dark-blonde/brown hair. Personally, I didn’t care for this look, I don’t think the extensions transitioned successfully and it looks like her hair is just laying on top of the weave, which is probably why the graphic designer put the banner to cover up that transition spot.

    Interesting that she didn’t mention this suggestion here, but I think it CAN work well, if the extensions are a closer color to where they are being attached on the head. See, your roots can still be darkest, but if your ends and back of head is light enough to blend with your weave, you can enhance your length and your ombre look at the same time.
    Honestly, Ariella Ann, who makes Intense Extensions makes the best ombre extensions I’ve found:

    You can buy extension tape, it’s like $5 double-sided sticky tape for your hair and it is really cheap and easy to do yourself. It’s also the best, flattest, longest-lasting, least-damaging method I’ve ever tried. (And I’ve tried em all)

    I’ve been doing my own hair for years on a student budget and I have zero training besides bleaching my own hair and doing my own extensions. It doesn’t have to be expensive to have any kind of hair you want. You can learn A LOT by googling and reading forums.

  • Mentirosas by Fernando Claro

    We’re huge fans of the “”new”” ombr

  • Miss Nina

    Love ombr

  • Delia Azcona

    My birthday is a few days and I need to change my color I will definitely take these tips into consideration :)

  • Kristi Maki

    Lauren is actually the inspiration for my new hair colour. I have dyed it too blonde for years and love the subtle tones and the dark blonde base of her hair. I am going to get it done in a few weeks!

  • Eva Al-Sunna

    Well yeaaah I am thinking about highlights, the ones that are close to VS supermodels highlights, they are pretty much amazing, Im naturally dark blondie, and I used to die my hair very light blond, this summer Im thinking about one shade lighter than my hair with some highlights on but the problem is my hair is CURLY :( I feel like Im tiring my hair too much when Im dying it

  • heathofeatho

    I am going to my sister-in-law who is my hairstylist and I am actually going to go from dark to blond. I was a blond when I was five but then I got burned and the doctors shaved my head. So I am really looking forward to see what it will look like blond again. I will add pics to your Facebook page after next week Friday. Love you and thanks for the tips.

  • Christine Falconi

    Went for some lighter locks with a pretty drastic color change. Also grew out the bangs late spring so they would be off my face in the summer heat. Check out the change here:

  • Beautiful Insanity

    Great tips!

    I have modeled for years and hair care is so important!

  • Abby

    I Really wanna go lighter, but since healthy hair is really important to me would this be an issue?

  • Abby

    Lauren is my inspiration for hair, in fact I’m getting my hair cut like how she had it in the last season of the hills in a couple weeks! I love you Lauren!

  • Adriana

    I did the sun-kissed highlight and they messed up my hair. Hardcore. I put some conditioning product 3 times a week and I think my hair was getting healtier. My stylist told me not to stop the treatment for better results and today I’m so happy with them. My hair feels smooth and healthy at anytime. The “Stretch budget” part is totally worth it.

  • Alma

    what if lets say, I want to cut my hair how do I know I will look good in that hair style? I don’t want to risk the little progress my hair has made since the last time in the hair salon which trust me has been over 10 months and it has barely grown two inches!



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