Highlighting your hair at the salon is even more expensive than getting full-color, mainly because the beautician has to do more work when it comes to highlighting your hair. The bonus is that you can do your highlights at home if you have the time, the patience, and the best drugstore highlighter on hand.
If you’re suffering from “COVID-hair” or need a pick-me-up for your quarantine style, you may want to add highlights to your hair. It can extend that summery look that seems to be fading so quickly as we move toward winter. But with social distancing in place, and many salons closed or with reduced hours, you may want to try adding your own highlights.
You can easily find highlighting kits at your local drug store — and if you’re staying home and staying safe, you can find them easily online. If you’ve never colored your own hair before, you may be concerned about the products or wondering where to begin. So, check our reviews of the best home highlighter kits along with our tips for great results.
Picking The Right Highlighter For Your Hair
There isn’t just one best drugstore highlighter. While choices abound depending on your hair type and desired effect, there are some brands you can always trust. If you’re ready to do some DIY highlighting for your hair, here are seven top products worth considering.
If you’re looking for highlights on your medium to dark-colored hair, Revlon’s Frost & Glow Highlighting Kit is a great option offering all sorts of blonde shades, including honey. This option is an easy to use kit that gives you somewhat of a frosted look while letting you determine how chunky you want your highlights to be.
One great thing about this highlighting kit is that it does a great job covering gray. It also comes in plenty of lighter colors, so that you can get a dramatic look with this option.
- Clairol Nice 'n Easy Hairpainting, Blonde Highlights
The Nice ‘N Easy Hairpainting kit is the perfect choice for summery blonde highlights, and it comes in shades that will give you a great look no matter how light or dark your current hair color is. You’ll still be using a cap and pulling through the hairs you want to highlight, so expect a little discomfort – but you’ll be happy with the results.
This highlighting kit is a great option for people looking to get unique looks with their highlights – whether you want to do the ombre effect with your hair or you want highlights that frame your face.
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From blonde and beyond, L’Oreal’s Colour Rays offers you more highlight options. These additional options are especially beneficial if you want some fun highlights that aren’t just the standard shades of blonde. They have options like Fuschia, purple, and red.
These are temporary highlights – so don’t expect the color to stick around for very long. Most people want fun colors for a short time anyway, and it frees you up to try a new color next time. Try it out for a bit of holiday fun this year.
If you’re looking for a highlighter that is healthier for your hair and the environment, spend a little extra to buy Tints of Nature’s Permanent Highlights. This product is ammonia-free, and it comes with a conditioner that will ensure your hair stays nice and soft (instead of turning to straw as it does with some color and highlighting treatments).
One of the things that make Tints of Nature worth a little more out-of-pocket, aside from being better for you and your hair, is the fact that it works well on darker hair. It’s a blonde only highlighting kit.
- Controllable and Customizable Highlights
- Control-Touch Fingertip For Easy use
- Create Your Own Look - Subtle or Dramatic
L’Oreal is a brand name that pops up often in lists of best drugstore highlighter and even best hair dye. They are a trusted name in hair care, in general – so when you buy their products you know, you are getting something that is going to do the job you want it to do. You can expect the highlights you want when you pick L’Oreal’s Touch-On Highlights.
If you get frustrated using highlighting caps, fuss no longer. This kit comes with a “finger” brush so you literally “touch” on the highlights where you’d like them. The colors come with tasty names like Golden Honey, Toasted Almond, and Creamy Caramel.
If you want an all-over color that comes with highlights, you have a couple of options. One of those options is the L’Oreal Paris Couleur Experte Express 2-in-1 Color. This kit gives you your base color, and then you follow it up with matching highlights.
It contains the touch-on finger brush for easy application of the highlights (so no cap needed). The only issue reviewers have had with this one is that the wrong streak color choices can appear brassy if you aren’t careful.
- FERIA IS MULTI-FACETED PERMANENT HAIR COLOR: Known for shimmering color & edgy colors, Feria permanent hair dye kits...
- MULTI-TONAL, SHIMMERING FERIA HAIR COLOR: With 50+ bold shades ranging from deepest black hair dye to platinum blonde &...
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If you want natural-looking highlights with no fuss at all, Feria has you covered. Their Multi-Faceted hair color with 3X highlights is an all-over color that gives you an array of natural highlights without a second step.
Feria is a favorite for many people – especially those that love red shades. They also have some pretty sweet Power Violet shade. Yet, they also have all the natural colors you’re looking for.
Preparing To Highlight Your Hair
Before you start putting bleach or highlighter onto your hair, there are some things you’ll want to do ahead of time. Of course, you want to open the product box and read through the instruction – these instructions will help to give you an overview of how much time it will take and the steps you need to follow, as well as whether or not you need any extra materials that aren’t included in the box.
Decide where you want the highlights. You don’t want to throw on the cap with your hair all a mess – this can make it difficult to hook your hair to pull through the cap, and it can make it so your highlights end up nowhere near where you want them to be.
It can’t help to style your hair in the way you normally wear it. Have the part where you’d have it. Don’t brush your bangs back or tuck your hair behind your ears if these aren’t things you normally do.
Make sure you are following the instructions that come with your highlighting kit. This process will help ensure you get highlights right where you want them.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Highlighting Your Hair
There are things you should do, and then there are things you shouldn’t do when it comes to highlighting your hair. Once you’ve picked the best drugstore highlighter, you want to make sure that it does exactly what you bought it to do.
Do – Depth And Dimension
The whole idea of “highlights,” by name even, is that they are meant to highlight something. In the case of highlighted hair, the highlights should be enhancing your base color and not overpowering.
Another thing that assists in ensuring that your highlights give your hair depth and dimension is to make sure that your highlights match your base color – use warm colors with warm colors and cold colors with cold colors. You can have fun with drastic colors while sticking with this basic concept.
DO – Work On Face Framing
Where you put your highlights matters. You don’t want to put them wherever, and you also don’t want some to be super chunky while others are far too thin. Highlights should “highlight,” which means that they should leave your hair darker toward the roots while it gets lighter toward the tips (like a far more subtle ombre coloring).
No matter where you put highlights around the rest of your head, you definitely want them around your face. Framing your face with highlights adds a brightness to the look and to your face.
DO – Pay Attention To The Seasons
Your highlights should change as the seasons change. Think of it this way – summer is bright and winter is dark. This seasonal change means you want lighter colors that are paler or brighter during the summer and deeper tones with more of a golden hue during the winter. Summer is a yellow light, while winter offers more of a blue light because the sun is farther away.
DO – Take Care Of Your Highlighted Hair
If you want your highlights to stay bright and not fade quickly, you need to take care of them. Even when you do your own highlights (saving money by avoiding the salon), you don’t want them to fade fast and leave you needing to buy another kit.
A few things that you need to do in order to care for your highlights include –
- Don’t wash your hair in hot water – hot water can turn highlights orange or even yellow. Wash your hair in cold water (which is better for all color-treated hair).
- Consider dry shampooing – Dry shampoo is less harsh on the hair and requires no water at all.
- Deep moisturize – Hair dye, highlights, and bleach all dry your hair out. Once a week use a deep conditioner (something containing keratin will ensure the health of your hair). You can do this every other week if your hair is fairly healthy.
- Use protection when heat styling – Before you blow-dry, straighten, or curl your hair with a heated appliance, treat your hair with a thermal protectant.
- Protect your hair from the sun – Colored and bleached hair can fade in the sun, just like all things fade in the sun. Protect your hair by wearing a cute hat when you’re spending any extended time outside, or look for a leave-in conditioner or other styling product with SPF protection.
DON’T – Use Too Many Colors
While you do want dimension, you don’t want your hair to start looking unnatural (unless you do). It’s important to pick the right highlights, to make sure they all blend well. You don’t need more than a highlight and a low light to accent your base color.
DON’T – Color Too Often
You should be going for at least two months between color appointments. If you’re rushing back to the salon (or the box) every month, you’re seriously damaging your hair. Let your roots have some air time – it’s not the end of the world.
Over-processed hair looks unhealthy and feels unhealthy too. Dying too much can also cause your hair to start to break off or fall out – which adds to the unhealthy look. Split ends and dryness that develop will make your hair look dull, which defeats the purpose of shine-enhancing highlights.
DON’T – Lighten Too Much
Watch how light you highlight. If your hair is too light from highlighting, it will make you look more washed out. The idea of highlights is to add depth, not drab. You want some contrast between skin color and hair color, so don’t highlight to a shade that is close to skin tone.
You also want to consider your base color. If you go past three levels lighter than your main color, your hair will look striped rather than highlighted. While striping your hair is a style all its own, if highlights are your wish, then stripes are something to avoid.
Final Thoughts On Best Drugstore Highlighter For Your Hair
You don’t always have to take a trip to the salon or even shop at Ulta to get a great highlighter – from Amazon to your local drugstore – there are lots of hair highlighters that are worth the money (if you have the time to do it yourself).
Take some time to find the right color for your hair, do a little research on the brands and what people think of them (beyond what you learned here), and remember, it’s only hair – if you pick the wrong shade you can fix it and it will grow out.