Highlighting and lowlighting your hair gives dimension to your natural hair color without having to dye all of your hair. Highlights use peroxide or bleach to strip the hair of its natural color creating anywhere from an orange to white blond. Lowlights deposit colors like brown, black, auburn or eggplant. A popular at-home highlighting method is the streaking cap. The cap contains tiny holes through which you pull thin or thick strands of hair. Depending on the colors and pattern used, you can create a dramatic or natural style. If you want to give yourself both highlights and lowlights with a streak cap, you must do each process separately.
Look at the holes on the highlighting cap and decide on a pattern for your highlights and lowlights. You cannot use the same holes for each. Highlights are better around your face and the top of your head, while lowlights are better on the sides and back. However, the choice is yours.
Write down the pattern you want to use. You cannot mark on the cap. Any ink on the cap will transfer to your hair during processing.
Wet your hair and part it the way you normally wear your hair.
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Put on the highlighting cap.
Poke the crotchet hook through a hole at the front of the cap that you want to use for your highlights.
Press the crotchet hook against your scalp, turn the hook to grab the hair and pull it back out the hole. If you want a chunkier piece of hair, repeat the process to pull more hair out the same hole.
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have pulled through all of the hair you want to highlight. Work from front to back and then down the sides.
Mix the highlighting dye according to the manufactures instructions and then paint the dye onto each strand of hair pulled through the cap. Coat the hair at the hole but do not push the dye through the hole. This will create dots or streaks of dyed hair beneath the cap.
Allow the dye to set for the manufacturers minimum amount of time and then rinse a test strand. If the color is not as light as you would like or has an orange cast, continue processing for the maximum amount of time.
Rinse your hair with the cap on.
Remove the cap and comb your hair. At this point, you can continue to add your lowlights or wait until the next day.
Repeat Steps 3 through 10 using the lowlighting hair dye and your lowlighting pattern. Ask a friend or family member to help you. The assistant is more likely to notice if they pull through a piece of highlighted hair, especially at the back or sides of your hair. Check the hair dye at the minimum dye time to check for intensity of color and continue to the maximum if you want a deeper color.
For best results, deep condition your hair a week before highlighting and do not wash or use products on your hair for 24 to 48 hours before processing. Purchase highlighting and lowlighting kits from the same manufacture to ensure that the caps have the same hole patterns. If you want to use a particular hair dye for your lowlights that does not come with a cap, wash and rinse the highlighting cap and reuse it.
Do not use a highlighting cap on thick or long hair. It is harder to dye to the roots of thick hair. Hair longer than at-shoulder-length with tangle or break pulling it through the cap.
Transplanted Yankee Erin Watson-Price lives in Birmingham, Ala., and has been writing freelance articles since 1997. She worked as writer/co-editor for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue's newsletter, "The Long and the Short of It." In 2007 she obtained a certification as a copy editor. Watson-Price holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.