The Low-Down on Low Lights
What is it about the change of season that sparks the desire to mix things up? In with the old, out with the new! There’s nothing like a fresh start to shake out the cobwebs and give you a new perspective – particularly when it comes to your hair.
Fall’s arrival means it’s time to replace the bleached out and brassy remnants of ‘summer hair’ with some depth of color, dimension and shine. While you may hesitate at the thought of doing anything more advanced than a root touch up at home, fear not. This DIY tutorial is easy to achieve and delivers a ‘my colorist spent hours on this’ result. (Don’t worry – your secret’s safe with us!)
High Wattage Low Lights
When it comes to at-home hair color, most women opt for a one color application, or what the pros call a ‘single process’. Often, during the last ten minutes of processing time, color is pulled through the mid-lengths and ends to freshen up those areas, creating a more consistent hue throughout.
However, if you’ve ever looked at your pre-color hair (regrowth aside) and thought that the oxidized shade is one you wouldn’t mind having one day, now’s your chance.
Low Lights How-To
Low lights, in contrast with highlights, bring depth and richness to your locks by adding areas of mid-level tones that are similar to – or slightly darker than - the root color. Colorists often suggest lowlights to help clients buy time between appointments. By adding dimension and subtle contrast they can help hair appear thicker, and are great for disguising gray strands without coloring your whole head.
Here’s my pro tip to deliver salon-worthy results that are easy enough for you to do yourself with Better Natured™ Liqui-Crème Hair Color.
When processing your hair to cover grays the dye typically stays on for 35-40 minutes. At the 20-minute mark (so with 15 minutes remaining before you shampoo) begin to assess where you want to see the lowlights appear. Ideally you will be creating some balance with the sun-lightened pieces on top that are left over from the summer.
Gently clip up the hair on each side and in the back. Depending on how much contrast you want to see is how you decide where to pull through the color.
With each piece, before you pull through the color, give a few spritzes of water from a spray bottle to that section of hair. Because your mid-lengths and ends are the most porous parts of your hair the water will prevent the color from depositing too much pigment. It only needs about 10 minutes to do the trick.
Starting from underneath, take small sections from 1/4” - 1” and work your way to the top applying color to about 1” from the ends. Having your ends darker than some of the lighter bits won’t look natural, and that’s the main goal…to look as natural and effortless as possible.
As you make your way toward the top, the sections of color you’re pulling though will be become sparser since the hair is lighter on top naturally. Of course, if you want the majority of your color to be darker, with only a few lighter pieces, then you can pull the color through more sections of hair. You be the judge!
Just remember: the key tips for success are starting toward the end of your processing time; applying color underneath (toward the hairline, ears and nape); dampening the sections you pull the color through to avoid going too dark; and avoiding putting color on the ends. If you follow these guidelines the result will be salon-quality lowlights that deliver rich, stunning dimension for Fall.
By Marcus Francis
Celebrity Hair Dresser and #betternaturedpartner