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
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  • Caryn Clough

    I’m leaving for the west coast for vacation and found a salon that came highly recommended in one of my design magazines. I called my colorist and asked if I could get my formula she uses on me to have for the salon I visit. She declined to give me the formula stating it was her professional policy to not share them as she has customized them for each guest. I have been going to her for years and feel I represent her work, thinking it’s in her best interest for me to look good. So- should I be upset knowing I’m taking a risk with visiting this new salon on vacation hoping they can guess the right color and that I’ll have my normal colorist to fix anything when I return?—Or find a new salon where they care about my appearance and me as a customer?