Tired of the cap. Can I paint on highlights at home without one?
March 2, 2013 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I've been doing my highlights at home for a while and they turn out well, but the highlighter cap annoys me. It's hot and uncomfortable, and I'd also like to get my highlights closer to my scalp than I can with the cap on. Googling leads to contradictory advice. Does anyone here paint them on at home with a brush and end up with a nice result?

I use the L'Oreal Excellence Cremelights professional kit from the nearby beauty supply store, and have a bowl, gloves, small brushes, plastic clips, etc. Foils would be hard for me due to hand and wrist problems, so I would rather not use them. When I'm done, can I rinse off the highlighted strands together with the non-highlighted hair and not wind up with random bleaching of the rest of my hair?

If the cap is really my best option, then I'll keep using it. Thanks for any input.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have done highlights with the cap and without. They come out nicer with the cap. But I, too, hated the cap. So I would just paint them on.
posted by fifilaru at 5:36 PM on March 2, 2013

I think highlighting without the cap could work for you for the short term, but it'd be my guess that you will start running into a situtation where you'll be blond over your whole head without the cap controlling what is highlighted.

(Although interestingly, as a former stylist, I've seen where highlighting with a cap repeatedly, like over the course of a year or longer, eventually can make you look as if you are all over blonde/lighter...then you're into needing low-lights because you get to be too light or too much blonde going...sigh. When using a cap over a long period of time, you will be pulling out different strands every time, so it's only a matter of time...)

It sucks, I know. Not too much with coloring hair is easy.
posted by foxhat10 at 7:12 PM on March 2, 2013

I have used a mascara wand (clean, obviously) in the past and was happy with the results. For what it's worth, I have straight dark brown hair and highlight with a lighter brown or auburn, and it's pretty short, so you might feel differently about trying this on your own head. Good luck :D
posted by raena at 7:30 PM on March 2, 2013

I've had absolutely no problem doing it without a cap. I wear the kind of stretchy latex gloves you can buy at the drugstore, not the cheapo floppy plastic gloves that come with haircoloring kits. I mix up a little of the highlighter stuff, pull out a bit of hair, slather on the lightening solution with my fingers, roll up the hair, and cover it with a bit of tin foil. I have learned the following things:

* You are allowed to just highlight a few bits at a time. If you just mix up a little now, you can experiment without a whole head of bad results. Patience is the DIY-er's best friend.

* Hair right at the roots lightens WAY faster than hair at the ends. It is like the hair at the ends is more dried out and takes more time to lighten. I don't know why. But I strongly recommend not highlighting too much too close to the scalp. Put the stuff on the ends on earlier, and just put a little bit on the roots near the end of the lightening time. Also, not a big glop. Kind of fade it in. It looks so much more professional that way.

I know you say you can't do foils due to hand/wrist problems but my method is a lot less demanding than foils. Just use tin foil to section off the highlighted stuff from the rest of the hair. Hair doesn't highlight that fast, so doing it without the cap will not cause random blotches. As long as you don't over-lighten near the roots you will be in good shape.

A google term that might be helpful is "baliage" - basically painting on the hair. But seriously, don't overthink it. Just mix up a tiny amount and practice. It is really not that hard -- just start practicing on a part of the hair that is less visible, that you don't care about as much -- ie, not right in the middle of your forehead.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:35 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the responses so far! They're very helpful. I should add, maybe, that I do a base dark blonde color and add lighter blonde highlights. I usually do it in that order, about every 6 weeks. Maybe I could alternate the cap and the painting. I guess what I'm still wondering is if the Cremelights will migrate to the other strands when I'm rinsing. With the cap I rinse them first and then take the cap off, then wash my hair.

raena, I have clean mascara spoolies, and that sounds like a good idea.

selfmedicating, I really appreciate the info about the difference between roots and ends and how they take color/lightening. It makes total sense. Also, using foil to section off the already-painted bits would work well.

I'll keep checking back, and thanks again to everyone who has answered.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 7:41 PM on March 2, 2013

I do what selfmedicating does. I just crunch the foil around the hair strand. Much easier than folding, but with the same result of protecting the non colored hair.
posted by Vaike at 8:35 PM on March 2, 2013

2nding a lot of what selfmedicating said -- baliage should be a helpful thing. I'd still put a foil down under the area you're highlighting, even if you don't fold it up all salon-like.
How dry does your dye get? I do all-over platinum, but when mine is done processing (~45 min) its not very wet and the chemical process itself is over, so I imagine it would not have much effect, if any, on touching strands upon rinsing, but someone else might know more about that.

If you need more mascara spoolies, I know Sephora keeps them around for testing products.

I'm pretty sure hair lightens faster at the root because of the heat from the scalp, but could be wrong.
posted by jorlyfish at 8:49 PM on March 2, 2013

if you were adding darker streaks to lightened hair, then yes, the darker colour may affect the rest of your hair in the process of rinsing out - but lightening takes a while to happen - the bleach has to be in undiluted contact with the hair for some time to lighten it. So, any streaks of bleach you paint on your hair should only affect where you put the bleach - they won't lighten other strands as you are rinsing it out. That has been my experience, anyway.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:48 AM on March 3, 2013

I missed where selfmedicated also said that the short time the bleached strands are in contact with the unbleached during rinsing won't affect them and make things blotchy. Thank you all for the awesome tips. Going to buy some more foil, mix up a small amount of Cremelights (which I highly recommend, btw), and do a few strands to see how it goes. I appreciate all your help.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 4:43 AM on March 3, 2013

How did it all go?
posted by raena at 12:23 AM on March 21, 2013

« Older Best (easiest) Mario games?   |   Name that artist: photo portraits of people... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.