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How to Get Face-framing Highlights

By Grace Gold

A few well-placed highlights around the face can instantly take years off your look and soften your features. Yet, the high cost of salon highlights has proven to be prohibitive for many. The good news? The effect can now be achieved at home thanks to higher-quality home highlighting kits and color.

Prep and Prime
The best time to highlight is on unwashed “day two” hair, as the oils in your scalp will protect strands during the coloring process. For highlights that are perfectly placed, you’ll want to brush hair the way it usually falls. Wear an old T-shirt and place protective rags on counter surfaces to prevent spills from staining.

Pick the Right Color
Look for an at-home highlighting kit that includes a brush for the most amount of painting control. Pick an ash-based shade that is one to two tones lighter than your natural color for the most goof-proof results. “When hair color lightens, it has to go through an orange stage before getting to lighter tones. Ash will get rid of the golden orange that most of us can’t stand altogether,” says Natasha Sunshine of the Byu-Ti Salon. That means violet-based reds, cool neutral browns and wheat or platinum blonds.

Mind Your Roots
It may seem counterintuitive, but refrain from starting at the root. “The heat of the scalp will lighten the first inch more than the rest of the hair strand. Go for the Sarah Jessica Parker look from “Sex and the City” and start your highlights ever so slightly below the root. Not only will it be more believable, you’ll have no obvious regrowth,” advises Sunshine. Start painting about 1/4 inch away from the scalp, hitting slivers that fall naturally around the face for greatest impact.

Paint Like Pasta
Multiple-sized highlights mimic the shimmering light that the sun naturally leaves in hair after time spent outside. “A talented colorist friend of mine uses a reference to pasta sizes. For example, you’ll want some spaghetti, a bunch of linguini and a few skinny lasagna. Just look at any 7-year-old’s hair color, and you’ll see what I mean,” says Sunshine.

Help Hair Health
Most kits take about 15 minutes to process. Allow your color to sit for the full time before shampooing out. In the future, be sure to add a deep conditioner to your hair care routine in order to maintain the brilliance and vitality of freshly highlighted hair. “Use a once-a-week masque to keep your ends from getting dry. Then we won’t have to wrestle you to trim off more than 1/2 inch when it’s time for a cut!” says Sunshine.

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Grace Gold has covered beauty for People, People StyleWatch, Harper's BAZAAR and AOL's StyleList.com. She is the author of The Boob Job Bible: 10 Steps to a Sexy, Safe Breast Augmentation.
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