How to Take Care of Your Highlights at Home, According to Top Colorists

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It's true what they say about going blonde; my lighter and brighter hair color has shifted my whole personality. In fact, I now identify as a natural blonde. As such, keeping my hair color looking its best via at-home highlight maintenance is one of the most important parts of my beauty routine.

According to Rita Hazan, celebrity colorist to blonde stars like Beyoncé and Sydney Sweeney, if you don't take care of your highlights at home, they won't maintain their sparkle. "Highlight maintenance is so important for a few reasons," explains Hazan, who also does my color. "First, you want to keep your hair healthy. Second, you want to keep the color vibrant all the time."

Another consideration: Highlights sensitize your strands, meaning they require an extra dose of nourishment, says colorist Jeannetta Walker-Rodgers. "It's important to use products that care for both the inside and outside of the hair, building up the hair's overall structure and maintaining its integrity," she says.

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From prioritizing moisture to utilizing at-home color options, here are all the steps you can take to do keep your highlights bright and vivid between appointments.

Use Color-Safe Products

To start, using color-safe products that won't dull or compromise your strands is essential. "They won't strip hair color and aid in its longevity," says Walker-Rodgers, who serves as global technical director at hair-care brand Joico, and recommends the brand's Defy Damage line in this spirit. Another fool-proof strategy? "Using salon professional at-home products that your stylist has recommended to you is key," she says.

Deep Condition

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"People often think their hair is damaged when really it's just thirsty," explains Hazan, emphasizing the importance of deep moisture. "It just needs a hydrating conditioner, and then it'll swell right back up." Recently, I've fallen back in love with an old faithful product, the Design Essentials Almond Butter Express Instant Moisturizing Conditioner ($14). I slap it on for five minutes, and it makes my hair unbelievably soft.

Keep Purple/Blue Shampoo Use Minimal

Purple and blue shampoos work by depositing temporary color on the strands to neutralize unwanted brassiness, i.e., yellow and orange hues. But, both Hazan and Walker-Rodgers note that they should be used very sparingly.

"I'm not a big fan of them because people overuse them, and then it dulls your hair," says Hazan. "If you use them once a month, that's plenty." Walker-Rodgers adds: "If you find yourself reaching for these often, it's time to visit your colorist for a maintenance gloss or toning service."

Try an At-Home Tinted Gloss

Over time, your hair color will inevitably lose its oomph. Using a robust tinted hair gloss adds a touch of shine and color to your strands to keep them vibrant. Hazan likens a gloss to a nail polish top coat. "You get a manicure, and at the beginning, it's shiny and the color is vibrant," explains Hazan. "Then, towards the end of the week, your manicure oxidizes and gets a little dull, so you put a top coat on it to bring it back to life."

A gloss does the same thing to your hair. "Every time you wash your hair, if you're in the sun, or if you have minerals in your water, your hair oxidizes," she says. "A gloss adds shine to your hair, and if you have a gloss with color, it will add a hint of tint, a little bit of color." After you shampoo and condition, put the gloss on, leave it on for a minute, and rinse. "It doesn't take any time," says Hazan.

She recommends the three glosses from her eponymous line. "There's one that's clear and gives you a total shine and a little conditioner; then there's Sunkiss, which will give you sun-kissed color, a more buttery yellow; and then Breaking Brass, which will remove any orange or reddish tones from your hair."

Always Use a Heat Protectant

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"Heat can destroy hair, especially highlighted hair," says Walker-Rodgers. "Overheating can leach tone from the hair, create brassiness, and cause toner longevity issues, too." So keep heat to a minimum—like, literally turn your irons down—and always use a heat protectant. "You should use a heat protectant product before you put any kind of flat iron or curling iron on your hair, especially after you get highlights," adds Hazan.

Don't Get Your Highlights Touched Up Too Often

The less often you can go in for a color service, the happier and healthier your hair will be. Go for your retouch every three to four months, "or less often—if you can push it, push it," says Hazan. "If you have to do highlights every four to six weeks because your roots grow in, then it's time for a single process." She suggests making your overall base lighter. "Something's got to change. You can't highlight every four to six weeks. That's too much on your hair, and it's going to break."

Be Mindful of Hard Water

Hard water deposits minerals and metals onto the hair that can cause dullness, dryness, breakage, and more. And if you have well water, "it can turn hair either orange or green depending on the minerals in there," says Hazan. If you live somewhere with hard water, invest in a shower filter or commit to regular detoxes, so long as you have somewhere with soft water to do said detox. "If you're going to detox it, do it in a place where it has different water. At the gym, in your friend's house, or anyone who doesn't have that same type of water," says Hazan.

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