Lower Maintenance Highlights
March 30, 2014 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I currently have full blonde highlights, but I've had it with the cost and upkeep. I'm looking for a lower maintenance option.

I started out blonde and then I became a dirty blonde and then a very dirty blonde and now I have pretty mousy brown hair that I haven't seen in its natural glory for probably 7 or 8 years now. I'm pretty fair (very Scandinavian features) and my natural color falls very flat on me. My highlights look close to this.

While I like my hair blonde a lot, there are some pretty major drawbacks:

- It costs a lot $$
- My hair grows I'd say at least 1.5 inches a month, so my week 8 my roots are in bad shape
- Despite the blue hair shampoos and going to very good salons, my hair goes brassy almost without fail so by month 2 my highlights are looking a bit worse for wear
- I have fine, straight hair that is pretty damaged from all the processing

I'm looking for a middle ground that will be less maintenance and less damaging to my hair.

I've considered getting ombre highlights, but I think it may be too dramatic of a change and I question whether it's really appropriate in an office setting (I definitely need something that looks natural for work). Would getting progressively darker highlights be working in the right direction? I'm not sure what I should even be aiming for or if getting darker highlights that are closer to my natural color would actually be any less of my time and money.
posted by whoaali to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think we have the same hair! Are you getting traditional highlights or balayage? Here's a little thing about the difference between ombre and balayage. Anyway, my colorist/stylist recommended it for me a couple of years ago, and it's a lot more subtle in the growing out phase, so I find I can go longer between color sessions.

Ombre is fun, but I don't think I want the darker stuff right next to my face.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:41 PM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

What product is being used to lighten your hair?
Permanent color can be used to lift and deposit tone (preventing the brassy colors you're seeing) in a single process. You can achieve the same lightness while keeping your hair in better shape. Find a salon that doesn't bleach and tone highlights.

It sounds like low lights would be a great option if your regrowth is noticeable in 8 weeks.
When done correctly, highlights should only be retouched every 3 months.
You should have no more than 30-40% of your hair highlighted. It is to enhance your natural color and add some dimension.

I use a clarifying treatment from Malibu (It's pure vitamin C) that removes build up and minerals from the cuticle. It may help with the brassiness you are seeing and allow your toning shampoo to "adhere" to the hair shaft by making room for the toner.

Talk to your colorist about your concerns.
posted by penpenne at 9:26 PM on March 30, 2014

My hair is a mousey dirty blonde when it's natural. I had the same issues with highlights as you do. For a while (before I switched to bright red - perhaps not an option for you!) I changed to getting darker streaks (um, lowlights?) instead of blonde ones. By comparison they made my natural hair colour look blonder.
posted by lollusc at 12:27 AM on March 31, 2014

This could have been written by me! I went on a blond trip last year for fun, and it was totally awesome and hot, and then it was time for maintenance. Which, as you know, is so very expensive.

I dialed back my hair expectations/wishes from "platinum" to "caramel," and then I had some success in buying a box of Garnier hair color (from Target. nothing fancy) that roughly matches my natural color but is a little brighter. The light/golden brown dye coated my highlights in a pleasing way that more or less achieves the caramel shade I wanted, and it looks natural enough. At any rate, I don't have the jarring dark/light transition where my roots grow in. I figure I'll keep repeating the process as my roots grow.

The particular brand of box color took care of any trauma to my hair, and indeed it is shinier and better-conditioned than usual in the following days. Look for something that purports to be natural, uses avocados (or whatever oil trend) and keep conditioning the hell out of it.
posted by magdalemon at 8:35 AM on March 31, 2014

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