I went back to Carl at the Aveda Institute in Covent Garden (London) this week to get my highlights done again, but this time opting for a lighter brown (last time I played it extra safe because it was my first time there). Here are some photos of Carl’s handiwork, taken a couple of days later. Keep scrolling down for the full review, oh and also for details of the Aveda Black Malva Shampoo I bought.

Aveda brown highlights
Aveda brown highlights on black hair
Aveda brown highlights on black hair roots
Last time I had my half head of highlights done, I was really worried about ending up with thick orange streaks like the ones I’d had years ago (and which I still cringe about). I also didn’t want obvious roots once it started growing out. So at the time, Carl agreed that he would only lighten my black hair with very subtle, fine chocolate highlights. He did a brilliant job… in fact so brilliant that no-one, not one person, noticed that I’d had my hair highlighted! It was only when my black roots started growing through that the difference in colour was noticeable! Oops… £115 those barely-there highlights cost me. Serves me right for playing too safe.

Anyway, having now gained my trust as a top notch colourist, I booked another appointment with him to go a lighter brown. He told me that the lightest I could go without using bleach was a couple of shades lighter than my current colour… which was fine by me. I wanted to make sure the colour was kept neutral too – no orange or red tones.

By the way, I didn’t even realise black hair could be lightened without using bleach until that conversation! No wonder my hair didn’t dry out from the previous highlights! It still feels in really good condition… not like hay at all.

As usual, Carl was faultless. And a genuinely nice guy too – none of that fake niceness you get from some stylists. However, I was passed onto a trainee to have the foils taken off and my hair washed and blow dried. And she was really rubbish at all of those jobs. She was really tugging on my hair to get the foils off… so much so that my scalp hurt afterwards. Then during the wash, she got wet hair and shampoo suds all over my face. She even did a crap job of blowdrying – she left the underside sodding wet and only blowdried the top layer… and even that was done badly.

I should’ve said something to the trainee or to the salon about her rubbishness… but as usual, I was too English and just thanked her. A trainee has to start somewhere though, right? I was just surprised that she hadn’t been given better guidance before being unleashed on paying customers.

Anyway, at least Carl’s highlights were top quality. I met a friend this evening who noticed my new hair colour straight away and who was amazed at the way it looked as if single strands had been highlighted individually. No orange streaks here! It was expensive (£115) but I definitely got my money’s worth.

I was told there was little chance of my highlights taking on an orange tone, but that Aveda Black Malva Shampoo would stop it happening if turning ginger was a concern (yes). The salon only had 1-litre bottles (at £22.50), which was annoying. What if I end up not liking it??

Luckily the shampoo seems pretty good so far… it smells exactly like Dr Pepper, feels gentle and doesn’t make my scalp itch. It has pigments in the formula to add cool tones to dark hair (to stop the ginger), so it comes out of the bottle purple-coloured. But weirdly, the foam is pure white so I’m not sure what happens to the pigments during lathering. Anyway, it’s a nice shampoo. I didn’t buy the Black Malva Conditioner because Carl said (Caaarl said..) that it might actually put too much pigment back into my hair and darken it.

Aveda Black Malva shampoo
The full ingredients of Aveda Black Malva Shampoo are:

Aqueuos (Water, Aqua Purificata, Purified) Extracts, Malva Rotundafolia Flower, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Bark Powder, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Wheat Amino Acids, Pathenol, Tocopherol, Fragrance (Parfum), Glycerin, Basassuamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-6 Cocamide, PEG-7 Dimethicone C8-C18 Ester, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Polyquaternium-10, Isostearamidopropyl Morpholine Lactate, Sodium Chloride, Polysorbate 80,Tetrasodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Annatto (CI 75120), Blue 1 (CI 42090), Ext. Violet (CI 60730)

Whoops this was a particularly unstructured and not very concise hair update. Soz! But my finishing comment would be… if you have Asian/Chinese or black hair and you really want to go lighter but don’t want thick ginger streaks or damaged hair (or if you need any highlights in general), Carl at the Aveda Institute in Covent Garden is your man. He’s worth it, trust me! And for the shallow of you, he’s pretty easy on the eye too.

You can find out more about the Aveda Institute, Covent Garden, London here.

24 comments on “Aveda highlights: I’ve gone a lighter brown this time


  1. i think they look great! they add some lovely dimension to your locks
    work it! x)

  2. Wow I really love this colour! It’s so ashy, not something people with black hair achieve easily lol <3

  3. Love your hair! It’s so pretty and natural looking =). You look so pretty and natural in the photos too! I love Aveda shampoos =P. But out of the conditioners I have tried, they are pretty crap and do nothing to my hair =(. XX

  4. The highlights really suit you! I am steadily bringing my highlighted mid-blonde hair back to my darker blonde natural colour, and have been relying on the ‘no bleach’ method to help me through the transition. It’s such a great alternative.

    Although it looks like you have a year’s supply of shampoo from Aveda, Pureology’s Hydrate range is a fantastic silicone-free colour defence product that is very nourishing, should you find that this doesn’t work out for you. It smells great (not at all like Dr Pepper!), is incredibly hydrating and really locks in colour. A definite hero product!

  5. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments!

    @Tammy: Yes, it’s so hard not to go orange when you have black hair! I’ve learnt the hard way!!! But it does help that no bleach was used. Thank you for the tag! :-D

    @Rachel: Yes, this bottle is going to be with me until the end of time! Oh, but I actually quite like the Dr Pepper smell! I’ll keep an eye out for the Pureology range you mentioned.

  6. I LOVE your blog – found it through London Beauty Review I think. I’m thinking of going to Aveda in Covent Garden to get my brown/black (Italian/Asian) hair dyed a similar colour (I’ve given up colouring it because it always goes orange). Did you have a half-head dye this time? Thanks in advance and keep up the excellent work :)

  7. @Robyn: Aww thanks for popping by! Yes this was just a half head of highlights… I’d be there forever (and much poorer) if they did a full head of highlights on my copious hair! If you go to the Covent Garden salon, ask for Carl – he’s really good! He won’t make your hair orange, trust me!

  8. I am very curious how you lighten your dark hair without the bleach..mine is dark and I would like to have it lighter but without the damage of bleach.

  9. Hey!
    I found this picture on google images and I LOVE your highlights. They are so pretty and exactly what I want. Do you know what color he chose? I’m getting my hair done at an aveda salon next week!!!

  10. @Anonymous – I’m not sure of the technical details of how they lighten my hair without the bleach but however they do it, it works! I’ve had such bad experiences before with cheap highlights or (shhhh…) home “lightening” jobs..

    @Anonymous – Thank you! I have no idea what colour Carl chose I’m afraid! I should pay more attention! Hope your treatment went well!

  11. You can lighten black hair without using bleach if you use hydrogen peroxide creme developer (volume 30) mixed in with your usual colourant gel.
    A 30 volume is sufficient to lift the hair colour by 2/3 levels but note dont use the 40 volume as i’ve heard it is damaging for the hair and will probably make you hair feel like mush and jelly when its on.

    I would use a volume 30 hydrogen peroxide creme developer with a ash blonde colourant gel, so that you can lift the colour without having the orange or ginger tones on black hair.
    Ash tones will not make your hair appear orange on black hair.

  12. You hair colour looks lovely, what colour did you ask for? Is it called light brown on their colour chart? The reason why i ask is because i am going to get my hair coloured next week at aveda.

  13. @Anonymous – Thanks for the info!

    @Anonymous – Thanks! I didn’t actually ask for any particular colour. I just asked for highlights to lighten the overall look of my hair colour without looking too obvious or stripy, and let the stylist do whatever he thought was suitable. Hope your experience goes well!

  14. Hi , your hair looks lovely, I also would love something like that, few questions

    1. did you like it later too, do you have a picture from few months or a year later? I was wondering how it grows out?

    2. was the shampoo good and prevented from the orangish tinge you were dreading, it is my fear too…i am indian, so i have different type of hair but a similar colour as yours. Would love to hear from you.

  15. how did he lighten ur hair without using bleach? I have a appointement for this next week but the colourist said she will still have to use a bit of some kind of soft bleach…
    thanks for any advice

  16. Have you got any pictures of your hair colour before so I can see if it will work on my hair?

    Thank you

  17. I always go to Carl. He was so great when i dyed my hair from blonde to red! I havnt been back in a while, as i stupidly dyed my hair brown, but i LOVE your colour. I’ll have to give him a call!!

  18. HI! anyway you can remember the number of the color he used on your hair? I would love to have the same color- my hair is the same natural color yours and I have had such a hard time finding color- this blog was soooo helpful

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