Three Ways To Minimize Hair Damage At Your Next Highlighting Appointment

For the 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian wore the glittering illusion dress that had been custom-made for Marilyn Monroe in 1962, and along with Marilyn's dress, Kim went for a Marilyn-inspired hairdo as well — blonde. Kim didn't pace herself either by going blonde over multiple visits. Instead, she told Vogue she spent 14 hours the day before the Met Gala going from dark brown to platinum blonde.

If you've got dark hair and want to go blonde, particularly platinum blonde, experts recommend doing it over more than one trip to the salon, according to Harper's Bazaar. And you want to make sure that when you go blonde, you do so without causing undue damage to your hair. One way that you can go lighter without the full-on commitment of an overall color change is to go for highlights — but you'll still want to consider some things before deciding to highlight your hair

Since highlights involve changing your color, even if subtly, it will cause some level of damage to your hair. Here's how to minimize damage the next time you go to the salon to get highlights.

Lower peroxide concentration keeps hair damage down

It helps to understand how highlighting works to better understand how to reduce potential damage. To highlight hair, the current color within each hair strand has to be removed, which is done with peroxide, per Color Wow. Stripping that color out by opening up the hair cuticle is what leaves your hair damaged, and it's part of why getting highlights done by a professional is the best way to keep your hair as healthy as it can be; at home kits aren't going to be tailored specifically for your hair type and color.

The higher the peroxide percentage, the higher the damage, so particularly for those with hair on the thinner side, talk to your stylist about their recommendations for a lower peroxide percentage, via Women's Health. One thing to realize is that the lower the peroxide percentage, there will be less color lightening, as explained by Eva Professional Hair Care. So if you're hoping for highlights that are several shades lighter than your base color, it may take multiple visits to achieve that look. Higher peroxide may also be needed to use highlights as a way to cover up gray hair, per Eva Professional Hair Care.

Be honest with your stylist about your hair condition

At your highlighting appointment, particularly if you're going to a new hair stylist, you want to have an honest conversation not just about what you want your hair to look like when you leave but what you've done to your hair in the past. You might not want to admit the Sun-In or at-home color you've used on your hair, but it's vital that your stylist knows what you've done in the past. It helps them know how to work with your hair at that appointment. You also want to tell them about what you do to your hair on a daily basis, according to Tribeca Salon. Do you do a lot of heat styling? Do you swim a lot? What kind of shampoo and conditioner do you use? All of that informs the best plan to get your beautiful, dimensional highlights and avoid hair damage.

Pairing your highlighting appointment with a haircut, at least a trim, will help prevent damage as well since regular haircuts help keep your hair healthy, via Curls and Cocoa. Look for these signs to know when it's time to cut your hair.

Balayage can be less damaging to hair than foil highlights

The type of highlights you decide on will also determine the potential level of damage. Traditional foil highlights typically start near the root of your hair and extend all the way to the tips, so you may need to plan on a salon visit more often to help keep them maintained as your hair grows and the root color begins to show. More visits means more often your hair is processed, which can add up to more damage. Foil highlights can also lighten your hair more than other highlighting types, and the lighter you go, the more damage there can be. Talk to your stylist about their recommendations for color-safe shampoo and conditioner to keep your highlights lasting as long as possible and your hair as healthy as possible.

Balayage is lower maintenance compared to foil highlights with more time between salon visits meaning less damage to your hair. Hair sections are lightened by just one or two shades, and instead of hair being encased in foils to change the color, your stylist will paint on the balayage sections. In terms of damage, Moe Harb, Harrod's consultant and Director of the Beauty Club in Oxford Street London, told Women's Health that compared to foils, balayage "puts less stress on the natural hair".