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How to Keep Your Highlights When Coloring Hair

by Madison Reed {{"2015-01-13T04:49:11-08:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Image by Madison Reed

Coloring like a pro is easier than you think! Look like a million bucks (while spending a whole lot less) with expert tips from Madison Reed.

Coloring hair at home doesn’t mean you have to give up all your highlights. Follow these simple steps to preserve some of your highlights while refreshing your look!

How to Keep Your Highlights When Coloring Hair

How to Keep Your Highlights When Coloring Your Hair

  1. Prepare: Divide your hair into four equal sections. Clip into place if you have long hair.

    Divide your hair into quadrants

    Apply barrier cream to your forehead, ears, and neck. Be careful to keep it off your hair.

    Add Barrier Cream

    Wash the barrier cream off your hands. Slip on a pair of gloves to protect your hands.

    Use gloves to protect your hands while coloring

  2. Mix: Combine hair color with color activator in an applicator bottle or non-metal mixing bowl. Shake or mix until thoroughly combined (about 20 seconds).

    Mix hair color with color activator

  3. Color Your Roots: Roots are the outgrowth of natural hair since your last coloring session. This hair has not been color-treated, so it needs more time to process. That’s why you should color your roots first.

    Apply color to your front hairline and at the natural part in your hair.

    Apply color to your roots

    Next, at the back of your head, apply a small amount of color to your roots. Work your way down one section in rows that are roughly 1/4 inch apart. Continue until the section is complete. Give your roots a good massage to fully saturate them with color.

    7_Color Sections

    Repeat this process on the other back section of your head. Then, repeat on the front sections.

    Don’t be shy! Completely saturate your roots. You should use at least half of your color and activator mixture.
  4. Color Your Hair: Before you put color on the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, let the color process on your roots for 25 minutes.

    When you’re ready, apply the remaining color to the rest of your hair. Massage the color down the lengths of your hair from the roots down to the ends.

    Comb color through hair

    Use a wide-toothed comb to pull the color evenly through your hair. Check that every strand is saturated.

    10_Comb Through Ends

    Let the color process for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of 35 minutes processing time).
  5. Relax: Once you’ve applied all your color, slip on a plastic cap. This helps keep the color in place, retain heat, and process the color.

    11_Relax Cap

    Use a cleansing wipe to clean any stray drops of color from your skin. Take off your gloves and enjoy the downtime!
  6. Rinse: Slip on a new pair of gloves and rinse the color from your hair until the water runs clear. Then wash your hair with nourishing shampoo and conditioner to lock in and preserve your fresh, beautiful color.


This process will help you keep some of your highlights while refreshing your overall hair color and look! For an even richer look and great experience, use Madison Reed Radiant Color. Every shade is designed to bring out your natural highlights and lowlights in hair with a blend of different tones, just like a seasoned colorist would mix in a salon. The premium color kits include everything you need to color like a pro, including two sets of gloves, barrier cream, cleansing wipe, applicator bottle, and nutrient-rich shampoo and conditioner.

Check out the latest Stunning Blonde Hair Color Ideas from Madison Reed to find your next inspiration!

And don't miss our Madison Reed Hair Color Chart.

Get personalized recommendations by building your Hair Profile or calling the Color Crew, a team of certified colorists waiting to help you. They love listening to your hair history and tailoring suggestions to suit your hair and style. Prepare to look and feel your very best!



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