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How To Keep Highlighted Hair Healthy

by Gabbi

Highlighting your hair can give some rich tones and depth to your hair, which looks gorgeous. The volume and depth that highlights give are worth the effort of having them done, but you cannot stop there when it comes to caring for highlighted hair!

Keeping highlighted hair healthy takes some change in routine and lots of effort, but it is so worth it to keep the tones and natural-looking colors for as long as possible. Highlighting your hair can also damage your hair, especially if bleach was used. This can dry hair out quite a bit.

So, how do you keep highlighted hair healthy? There are several methods for keeping highlighted hair healthy, including not shampooing daily, using a color-safe and gentle shampoo free of sulfates, washing your hair with cooler water, and more.

For both these reasons, it really does help to know how to care for highlighted hair.

There is quite a bit you can change in your routine and that you can add to your hair care to keep highlighted hair healthy. Keep reading to find out all the helpful tips!

Keeping Highlighted Hair Healthy

The two main rules to keeping highlighted hair healthy are to not add any more stress to your hair and to nourish it as much as possible, with moisture and protein. Any type of highlighting, even when it does not contain bleach, is a chemical treatment, and will damage your hair somewhat.

Caring for your hair after highlighting it, and making sure to not cause it any stress, is so important to healthy highlighted hair. 

Here are the things you can do to keep highlighted hair healthy:

1. Do Not Shampoo Hair Daily

You really do not need to shampoo your hair every time you get into your shower. Your hair does not need to be shampooed just because it is wet.

The best routine to have for healthy hair is to only shampoo it 1-2 times a week at most, giving it time to replenish its natural oils and make the most of them, before these oils are washed away through shampooing.

Shampooing your hair too often with highlights can also dull the colors that you have just put in. The highlights and the shampoo can both dry out hair, so you need to give your hair time to produce natural oils, and to find nourishment from them.

If you feel like your hair needs a little bit of extra moisture, you can condition it and rinse it out instead of shampooing it so often, which is a much gentler way to treat your hair, and which is helpful to get rid of knots and tangles that highlighting and drying your hair might have caused.

If you have oily hair and feel like you need to wash it more often, see if you can make use of dry shampoo in between washes instead and put your hair up in styles that mask the texture, like braids or buns. Eventually, washing less often will help you keep oils at bay for longer.

Ditch the everyday shampoo habit and instead wash your hair every 3-4 days!

2. Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo

It is essential that you only use sulfate-free shampoo and other products to wash your hair. Sulfates can be really harsh on the hair and can dry hair and strip it of any color. 

Shampoos that contain sulfates are the ones that lather and soap up really well, which many of us think means that the shampoo is working. The much-hidden secret is that shampoo does not need to lather to clean your hair, and those that don’t lather are actually much better for your hair!

Using sulfate shampoos will quicken the fading process of your highlights and added color, so rather stay clear of them if you want your highlights to shine.

There are some great sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner options to choose from, which will do so much to care for your hair.

3. Use Leave-In Conditioner

The right leave-in conditioner can be your best friend when trying to keep highlighted hair healthy. This is especially true for highlighted hair that has dried out or been damaged from the highlighting process, and which needs a little bit of extra love.

Choose a hydrating and nourishing leave-in conditioner that is free from sulfates, and use it around 2 times a week to help and boost the moisture in your hair. Certain leave-in conditioners will also help to protect your hair from environmental stressors.

Hopefully, using the right leave-in conditioner will deliver deep nourishment to your hair, keep the highlights in great condition, and restore moisture to any damage or drying that the chemical process might have caused.

4. Lower The Temperature Of Your Showers

It might be so tempting to stick to your hot showers, but hot showers can actually be bad for your highlights!

Scalding hot water in the shower opens up hair cuticles, and this could lead to the color washing away. The hot water can also lead to dry hair, which does not help if your hair is already dry after being through the highlighting process.

As much as you can, try and have lukewarm showers instead, to keep the color in your hair and to prevent your hair from drying out any further. You can also rinse your hair with cold water at the end of your shower for added benefits and to close the follicles, helping your strands to hold onto moisture.

5. Use Nourishing Products

If your hair has been dried out or damaged through the highlighting process, it will definitely help to use different nourishing treatments. Some of the good options include hair masks and oil treatments. These will help to moisturize your hair and add in some extra protein.

Protein treatments are also a great option to try and build up the structure and strength of your hair, helping it recover from the highlighting damage. You can do protein treatments every other week to fortify your hair.

6. Avoid Heat Damage

Styling tools such as irons or straighteners, and even hair dryers, can damage your hair quite a bit and cause even more damage if your hair is already dry from being highlighted. 

Using heating tools on your hair can strip it of moisture and leave it drier than it already was, giving your hair a very straw-like texture.

If you cannot avoid using hot styling tools, you should use a heat-protectant spray on your hair first. This will help to protect your hair somewhat against heat damage, and help to moisturize it through the process. The heat-protectant spray acts as a small barrier between the heat and your hair.

Try to also use the styling tools or hairdryer on a lower heat too, to lessen the exposure to high heat. If possible, try to air dry your hair when possible instead of using a hairdryer, and braid your hair while it is damp to give waves instead of using a curling wand.

Heat damage can really ruin your highlights, so avoid it where possible!

7. Trim Your Hair

A great way to have your hair look and feel healthy after highlighting is to give it a trim. A small trim will remove any split ends and breakages, and this goes a long way to help hair look smooth and healthy, and reduces the chance of tangles and knots.

8. Minimizing Damage Done To Your Hair By Highlights

Keeping your highlights healthy starts before you even get your highlights done. There are ways that you can minimize the damage done to your hair by highlights, which helps keep your hair healthy after they are done.

9. Strengthen Hair Before Highlighting

Try and fortify and strengthen your hair before highlighting it. Use deep conditioners and protein treatments to make your hair as strong as possible before having the highlights done. This reduces the damage done by the highlights and leaves your hair in a healthier state.

10. See A Professional Stylist

The best thing you can do is to see a professional stylist. They will be able to check your hair before highlighting, and make sure that your hair is treated properly and cared for while being highlighted.

Many people successfully highlight their own hair at home, but for every successful home highlight, there are multiple disasters!

A stylist will also be able to help you pick out the right color and right tones for your highlights that would best suit your hair color and complexion.

Final Thoughts

Keeping highlighted hair healthy isn’t difficult, but you will most likely need to make some changes to your routine and the hair products you use.

Avoid any shampoos and conditioners containing sulfates, reduce the temperature of your showers, don’t shampoo your hair every day, and give your hair some nourishment through deep conditioners to keep highlights healthy.

To help your highlighted hair even more, strengthen your hair before the highlighting process, and see a stylist to help you achieve the most beautiful highlights.

Related Questions

Do highlights damage hair?

Highlights do not damage hair as much as bleaching does, but they can change the inner structure of the hair, which could lead to drying and a loss of shine.

What should you not do after having highlights done?

You should avoid washing your hair for 2-3 days after having highlights done, to avoid washing the color out too soon. You should also avoid washing your hair too often and avoid excessive rinsing of your hair too.

Up Next: Do You Put Toner On Wet Or Dry Hair?

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