Hello, beautiful™

How to
highlight your hair

Simple instructions and expert tips for every hair type.

Before You Highlight

For at-home highlights, this is as easy as it gets.

What type of highlights does Light Works™ Balayage Highlighting Kit create?

Light Works is for those that love soft highlights that appear subtly grown-out, sun-kissed and natural-looking. Unlike traditional foil highlights, which are close to the roots, Light Works uses a Wishbone applicator, designed to mimic the pattern salon professionals use to create balayage highlights.

How do I know if Light Works will work on my hair?

Light Works is ideal for the following hair types:

  • Darkest brunette to light blonde hair (natural or color-treated)
  • Redheads who want soft golden-toned highlights
  • Hair with existing highlights or balayage, provided there is less than a ‘full head’ of highlights

Who should not use Light Works?

We care about you and your hair, and we want to make sure you understand that Light Works is not for everyone. Do not use Light Works if the following applies to your hair:

  • Hair with existing ‘full head’ highlights or balayage
  • Fashion or “rainbow” colored highlights (silver, titanium, blue, peach, etc.)
  • Hair that has been treated with a chemical hair straightener, relaxer, keratin treatment, perm or all-over bleach
  • Those looking to touch up all-over bleached hair (double process)
  • Those looking for dramatic levels of lightening (from darkest brown to blonde)
  • Those with black hair (natural or color-treated)

Can I use Light Works and Radiant Cream Color?

Absolutely. First, apply Radiant Cream Color to touch-up your roots as usual. Process, shampoo and dry your hair. Then use Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit, per the included instructions.
Pro tip: it’s usually not necessary to pull Radiant Cream Color through all of your hair before using Light Works.

What should I do 24 - 48 hours before coloring?

We recommend you do a sensitivity test 48 hours before you use Light Works. Shampoo your hair at least 24 hours in advance—next-day hair is best for coloring. We also recommend that you do a strand test before you highlight to determine the approximate timing required to reach your desired degree of lightness.

What else should I prepare before using Light Works?

To help you highlight with confidence, we recommend having the following items on hand:

  • 2 plastic spoons (or other small non-metallic containers)
  • Cotton swab (for the sensitivity test)
  • Small elastic hair band (for the strand test)
  • Shirt or smock that buttons or zips up the front
  • 3-4 plastic hair clips (for sectioning)
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • 2 old towels which you don’t mind getting discolored (one to drape over your neck, one to wipe excess bleach from gloves)
  • Timer
  • Clear, flat surface on which to work
  • Check out our handy accessories here.

How light will my highlights be?

We recommend you do a strand test before you start highlighting with Light Works to determine the approximate timing required to reach your desired degree of lightness. The strand test involves placing a small quantity of Lightening Cream mixture on a small strand of your hair and checking it every 5 minutes. Strand testing is important if your hair has been chemically-treated. Instructions for how to do the strand test are included in the kit.

How long will the entire 2-step process take?

The entire 2-step application and processing time will take approximately 90 minutes.

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Ready To Highlight

How to apply for the perfect highlights

Light Works & Permanent Color

How to use Light Works together with permanent color to achieve gorgeous hair color and natural-looking highlights

Light Works Step by Step

How to use Light Works a step by step guide

Instructions: Light Works

Should I shampoo my hair before highlighting?

It’s not necessary to use Light Works on freshly shampooed hair (unless you have a build-up of styling products). Wait at least one full day after shampooing your hair before using Light Works—the day after your last shampoo is best.

How do I highlight the back of my head?

The Light Works application technique is designed to incorporate natural-looking highlights all throughout the head. Most of the highlights that you will be creating fall around your face with blended highlights towards the back of your head.

Is it necessary to use Light Works Finish Toning Glaze?

For best results, Light Works should be followed with Step 2: Light Works Finish Toning Glaze. The toner refines the highlights to a softer color tone, plus adds superior shine and leaves the hair in great condition.

Can Light Works Lightening Cream be used on the scalp for all-over lightening (double process)?

No. Madison Reed does not recommend using Light Works Lightening Cream for on-scalp application. Light Works was formulated for “off-scalp” techniques only. The product consistency is ideal for using the Wishbone Balayage applicator to apply highlights to the surface of the hair.

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After You Highlight

The best ways to protect and refresh your highlights

What is the “100% Satisfaction Guarantee”?

We want you to love your hair. If you don't—a professional colorist will help you find a color that you do love, and send it to you, on us. And if you're still not happy? We'll refund your money, 100%.

Once I'm finished highlighting, how do I protect my hair and make my highlights last?

We recommend using our Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner to lock in luxurious, lasting color, and nourish hair from the inside out. These sulfate-free formulas gently yet effectively cleanse, hydrate, and strengthen hair's natural proteins for incredible softness and shine while providing fade-resistant UV protection.

To fortify your highlights in between Light Works highlighting applications, use Light Works Bond Building Cleansing Treatment once a week in place of your favorite shampoo, to fortify highlights and rebuild bonds inside the hair.

If you feel your color has faded, try Color Reviving Gloss for an unbelievably easy to use beauty boost that adds shine and refreshes faded tones. Use the chart below to select your perfect shade of Color Reviving Gloss.

If you use this shade of Light Works Toning Glaze: Use this shade of Color Reviving Gloss:
Sorrento Cool Vanilla Crema
Palmi Warm Honey Prosecco
Lazio Cool Toffee Espresso
Ardenza Warm Caramel Miele

How often can I use Light Works?

We recommend that using Light Works to add subtle highlights about every 3-4 months. The more often you apply Light Works, the lighter your overall color will become. It’s important to avoid over-lightening the hair, so take care to not overlap or apply Light Works onto sections of hair that are already treated with Light Works or another bleach lightener.

How long does Light Works last?

Light Works is a bleach lightener and will permanently lighten both color-treated and non-color-treated hair. The Toning Glaze is a demi-permanent color that is formulated to be used after the lightening step to help refine and neutralize the undertones exposed during lightening. This step will gradually wash away in about 20+ shampoos.

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Meet our Colorists

Doing it yourself doesn't mean you're on your own. Our expert colorists are always available to answer your questions.


Ask Our Color Crew



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