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4 Hair Highlighting Techniques You Don’t Want To DIY

Some things are just better left to the pros.

So you’ve mastered coloring your hair at home and now you want to try your hand at certain highlights. While we love the confidence (and appreciate the enthusiasm to save some coins), we urge you to stop, drop the hair color, and listen up. Using at-home hair color to cover gray roots or provide an even, all over hair color is great — perhaps even easy with the right tools. No salon appointments or massive expenses necessary. However, not all hair color transformations are created equal, especially when it comes to highlights. Some hair highlighting techniques require training and skill, so they’re best left to the professionals. For the best results with these four transformations below, you’ll want to Forgo the at-home hair dyeing session and make an appointment with your colorist. . 

Balayage Highlights 

If you’ve thought about adding some dimension to your hair, you’ve likely considered  balayage highlights as a top option. Balayage is a highlighting technique that was conceived by French colorists in the 1970’s. With this highlighting style, the lightener is painted onto the hair using a brush 一 completely freehanded with no foils involved. 

Balayage highlights may look simple to achieve but the process can be complex. It requires skill to understand placement with the absence of foils and guides. It's also incredibly difficult to make highlights appear natural and flawlessly blended on your own  especially the back of your head. If you want the natural-looking, sun-kissed results of balayage head to the salon.  


You probably know that ombré hair is all about a color gradient. The darkest color exists at the roots, and the hair color fades lighter all the way down to the tips. In some cases, the ombré hair color is so dramatic that the tips look dip-dyed. This technique is most often achieved through balayage. While balayage entails highlighting various strands throughout the head to achieve a dimensional look, ombré uses the balayage technique on most if not all of the strands to create a gradient.

Because this technique requires that the highlights be painted on in a gradient, it requires skill in order to achieve natural-looking, even results. 


Sombré hair (which means soft ombré) also features a gradient in color. It's like ombré hair but more subtle, which can make the hair look like it was naturally lightened by the sun over time. 

Sombré hair color is also created using the balayage highlighting technique. But rather than opting for a highlight color that differs greatly from the base color, sombré hair features understated highlights. This hair coloring technique can also be created with the addition of lowlights to add depth to the color. 

Given how intricate the process of getting sombré hair is, it’s best left to a professional. Celebrity hairstylist and L’Oréal Paris expert Jonathan Colombini agrees, saying, “The trick to getting it soft and blended is how the hairstylist foils or balayages [the hair color].” So avoid the hair color mishap and make yourself an appointment. Think of it as a self-care moment where you get to sit back and just be pampered for a couple of hours. 


The foilayage highlighting technique is the combination of traditional highlights using foil as well as balayage highlights. Traditional highlights involving foil typically start right at the root and go all the way down the length of the hair. With foilayage, the colorist will sweep hair color onto sections of hair leaving some of them uncovered per the traditional balayage technique. Then they’ll cover the other sections in foil which helps to amplify the brightness of those strands. As a result, the hair has incredible dimension that doesn’t look stripey like some traditional highlights can.

Because it combines multiple highlighting techniques with a major emphasis on placement, if you want the foilayage look, let a professional take the reins. 

Next: How To Get And Maintain Ash Blonde Hair Color

Written by: Alyssa Kaplan, Photo Credit: Sierra Adam, IG/

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