Can You Colour Highlighted Hair?

6 October 2021 | Tincture and Colour

Many blondes with hair highlights get the sudden urge to join the dark side. And we love when our clients want to switch it up! So, can you colour highlighted hair? Set the box dye to one side for now whilst we explain to you why colouring highlighted hair at home might not be the best idea.


Understanding the basics of bleaching and colouring

We know you didn’t come here to learn the ins and outs of bleaching and colouring, but a bit of background information will really help you understand why colouring over highlighted hair is a lot harder than you think.

Using bleach to highlight hair

Let’s start with how we get you those gorgeous highlights. To take your hair to a lighter level, we need to use bleach to lift and remove the pigment in your hair. The pigment is what gives your hair colour, so bleached hair is just essentially hair with little to no pigment! This is where we get those pale yellow shades, giving you beautiful blonde locks.

Colouring hair

However, colouring the hair is the opposite process. To colour the hair, we add pigment to the hair cuticle. This is why trying to colour dark hair with a lighter shade never works, as darker hair already has a lot more pigment.

With this in mind, you might think that colouring highlighted hair that is much lighter than the colour you’ll be applying on top is easy. However, we’re here to explain why it’s a lot harder than you’d expect.


So, can you home colour highlighted hair?

To put it simply, yes, you can colour highlighted hair at home. But don’t expect to easily get the results you want. Here’s why the process of colouring highlighted hair is best left to professionals.

As we now know from our mini bleaching lesson, bleaching strips pigment from the hair. In fact, the colours that are stripped away are all those dreaded red, orange and brassy tones. What you might not know is that darker hair naturally has these undertones. 

Without these brassy tones, your darker hair will look muddy and even green. Maybe we’ve all been a bit harsh on brassiness! 

But what we’re trying to say is that without putting these warm tones back into the hair, you’ll never achieve a rich shade. It will always have that flat, “box-dye” look that we’re sure most people recognise.


How we colour highlighted hair at the salon

Not only do you have the expertise of a professional when you visit the salon, but you also have the luxury of salon grade hair colours. When working on highlighted hair that is already more susceptible to damage, the last thing you want to do is use box dye which is packed with way more ammonia and hydrogen peroxide than you need. 

  1. The colour filler

So, when colouring your hair a darker shade at the salon, we’ll start off with a colour filler. This is just a colour that we use between your highlighted hair and the end result, and it consists of those warm tones that are missing in your hair. 

We’ll begin by applying a warm copper colour to the hair and leaving it to develop as we would with any other hair dyes. We’ll then rinse and blow-dry the hair. Maybe at this point, you’ll even fall in love with a beautiful copper shade! 

  1. Going darker, effortlessly at the salon

Now that we’ve restored the warm tones in your hair, we’ll then mix up the perfect shade for you. With an abundance of Wella colours at our disposal, we can create any shade you can dream of, which is another limitation to box dyes.

The colour will be applied directly on top of the colour filler, and the same process of developing, rinsing and blow drying will be used. You might even choose Olaplex to keep your hair nice and healthy if it was previously compromised. 

The result will be a stunningly rich and vibrant colour filled with multi-tonal shades that really create that natural look. We might be biased, but there really is nothing that compares to a colour that’s come fresh out of the salon.


Visit Tierney Salons and we’ll give you coloured hair to perfection

At Tierney Salons, we’ve had enough clients looking for colour corrections to know that box dye is usually a disaster.

Whether you’re umming and erring about using box dye or you’ve already committed a hair crime using it, we’re here to make your colour dreams come true! 

You can book now to be seen by one of our expert stylists, or feel free to contact us if there’s anything at all we can help you with.