After about five years of not having my hair coloured (sensitive scalp and laziness of getting roots touched up), I finally caved and got a half head of highlights yesterday at the Aveda Institute salon in Covent Garden.  My hair is normally a dark brown (with lighter ends), but due to lack of sunshine, it was looking pretty much jet black and a little harsh against my equally sun-starved skin.  I had my hair cut recently at a little Japanese salon in Soho called B:ZAR but it needed a lift that a cut alone just can’t achieve.

The Aveda colourist, Carl was soooo nice, and really knew what he was doing.  I told him I wanted to take the edge off the black in my hair, and warm it up a bit.  But I definitely didn’t want too much red or orange – which is where my hair usually ends up due to the high levels of red pigment in black hair.  I’ve had awful, awful highlights before where I’ve ended up with thick, ginger streaks… ohhh… so bad… sooo bad.  Of course, I only realised how bad the “highlights” years later when looking at photos.  <cringe> Why did no-one tell me??

I made sure Carl knew I was going to be super lazy with the upkeep of the highlights (I’m a wash ‘n’ go person, and a “recent” hair cut for me is anything within the last five months).  This was the reason he suggested subtle highlights in the first place rather than a flat colour.  I think we went a little too subtle though because my hair still looks quite dark unless there is light or sun shining on it.  Well, I guess he did say it was safer to start dark and go lighter next time.  My fiancé couldn’t tell the difference <sigh>.

This was the first time I’d ever paid so much for anything done on my hair (£115 for a Master Technician) … but the service was worth it.  When you look closely, you can see very intricately-created chocolate highlights against the black.  Overall, it looks ultra natural.  No dodgy streaks in sight.

Here’s how the colour turned out (an indoors photo last thing yesterday night, and a photo from this afternoon walking on windy Hampstead Heath):



And here’s me looking cool while waiting for the highlights to do their stuff:


I was expecting my hair to feel a little dry and damaged post-processing but it really doesn’t at all.  And the rich brown tones make my hair look glossier with more movement.  Apart from wishing I hadn’t gone so subtle, I’m really impressed with the experience and result from Aveda.  Now that I’ve seen for myself that it is possible to have highlights in my hair which are not orange streaks, I’m definitely going to try going lighter next time.

Update (6th August 2010): I went back to Aveda to get my roots done, and went a bit lighter! See the photos of my lighter brown highlights here.

11 comments on “Highlights at Aveda Institute… my new hair colour (kind of)!

  1. Your hair looks fabulous! This is the kind of highlights I want to get. Sounds like you and I are on the same lazy level when it comes to hair. I think I get 2 cuts a year. I really want to get half head highlights for summer.

  2. I just stumbled across your blog whilst trying to find the ingredients for the L’Oreal Matte Morphose as I broke out in hives all over my face from it! :s Terrible! Anyway, it’s great to read a beauty blog in Britain so that I get a chance to buy the products too! I’m loving the new hair colour! It really suits you. I saw some of your other photos too. I’m curious… What ethnicity are you? I can’t work it out. To me, you look definitely look half-SE Asian. Thai, perhaps? I’m really bad at judging sometimes. I’m Chinese.

  3. Very pretty and ridiculously shiny! If it’s ok, could you maybe post one day how you style your hair?:) x

  4. Subtle highlights are a much better way to give the hair some colour beyond just black. This looks great on you! I had to laugh when you mentioned about your past with the ginger streaks. I went through that phase too. I wasn’t too pleased with the results then but rather than damage my hair by re-colouring it, I grit my teeth and patiently waited for it to grow out. Awh, that was an awful time. :P

  5. @Arianne: Thank you! You should definitely try getting a half head of highlights some time… they give a “lift” but root regrowth shouldn’t be as obvious.

    @Bee: I’m glad you stumbled across my blog! Oh no I’m sorry to hear about the reaction you had to Matte Morphose. I wonder what ingredient it could have been that you’re sensitive to..? Haha @ “ethnicity”… nope not half Thai… but you’re in the right region. My parents are both Chinese/Vietnamese although they seem to have a bit of a identity crisis and swap between the two constantly!

    @Ola: Hi! I’m terrible at styling my hair – I mostly just blast it with the highest heat, and then use a round brush with the hairdryer on the ends of my “almost dry” hair to smooth it out. I find that Japanese or Chinese hair stylists know how to cut my hair so that it requires minimum effort… it just falls into place after drying. if you have straight hair, I’d recommend trying an Asian hair salon!

    @Witoxicity: Haha yes I never bothered to re-colour my ginger streaks either. I cringe every time I see them in old photos!

  6. Hehehe you look funny in your last photo ^^
    Great that you got a good experience. I’m always paranoid going to the dresser because I’m scared that my hair won’t turn out the way I want it to ><. Your hair looks fantastic!

  7. Sounds like you have hair like mine. I hate any kind of red undertones from highlights…My dark brown hair pulls red naturally when lifted. I would be very cautious with Aveda. I tried having them highlight my hair several times and the problem is that their color line is not formulated for people who want to go from their natural virgin color dark brown hair to a lighter medium brown (without any warmth, meaning red undertones). It’s impossible because they do not have any green toner…Watch what will happen – I can predict – If you go back there and ask for lighter highlights, the Aveda hair stylist will say, no problem, we’ll just highlight the roots and lift it some more and then tone it down with some blue or blue/violet toner. Well, blue or blue/violet toner will not counter the warmth that will definitely show once you lift dark brown hair…unless you want to lift it completely through the warm stages to a yellow or light yellow, but you don’t want to put your hair through that much bleach. You need to highlight your hair and lift it so the underlying pigment is a red/orange tone and the only thing that will counteract this tone is GREEN, not blue. Not purple. Not blue/purple. Aveda will try to convince you over and over again that they can cut out the warmth, but they cannot because they do not have the right green toner.

  8. Hi, I just came across your blog as I’m looking to have my hair highlighted at the Aveda institute. However, like Sage Johnson, and after 17 years of colouring my hair, I’ve realised that my hair’s natural reddish pigment won’t be beat by any blue toner. Though I’ve never heard of GREEN toner! Can someone tell me where to get that from?! I certainly do not want to pay a fortune for more reddish/orange highlights! By the way, the senior stylist at my Aveda salon said that the Black Malva still has SOME red tones in it, as it turned my more-orange-like hues to a deep red, like red wine!!

  9. Helen: I just started reading your blog and I really like it. One of my new year resolutions was to take better care of myself and be more “girlish” and reading your blog has given me a lot of ideas ;) The highlights look great on you, these are definitely the pictures that I will show the stylist. We’ll see how it goes. Have a wonderful year!

  10. So helpful!!! This post is exactly me right now.. contemplating highlights for the first time in 5 years! (Lazy, busy etc) I love this post (and the one where you went lighter!) I’m going to highlight my hair I think. Thanks for the confidence!!!!

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