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How to put red highlights into dark hair

Updated November 21, 2016

Highlighting hair can change your overall look, and people with every hair type or colour can add highlights of different shades. Individuals wishing to add red highlights to dark hair should look for red colours that are between two and five shades lighter than their base colour. Highlighting kits are available at most grocery stores, chemists or beauty-supply stores.

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  1. Pick a highlighting colour based on the desired overall effect. For a more natural look, choose a red highlighting shade that is two to three shades lighter than your natural colour. For a more dramatic look, choose red shades that are between four and five shades lighter.

  2. Do a colour test on a strand of hair that is not easily visible at least one day before highlighting the rest of the hair. This is done to check for any allergic reactions to the hair colour.

  3. Refrain from washing hair a day or two before highlighting because dry, unclean hair will absorb colour best. When ready to highlight hair, put on old clothes and cover your work surface with an old towel.

  4. Put petroleum jelly along your entire hairline, including on the top of the ears and back of the neck.

  5. Combine the colouring cream and the highlighting colour into a plastic bowl.

  6. Create small-to-medium sized sections of hair on the top of the head. Smaller sections will create a more delicate look, while larger sections will be more noticeable.

  7. Apply the highlighting mixture to each section and make sure the hair is thoroughly and evenly covered. Use a small comb to comb through each section after you have applied the highlighting mixture.

  8. Work your way around the head until you have highlighted all the sections you want coloured. Allow the highlights to set for 10 to 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow with a gentle shampoo and a deep conditioner.

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Things You'll Need

  • Highlighting kit
  • Old clothes
  • Towel(s)
  • Comb
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner

About the Author

Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.

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