What Are Full Highlights?

The term highlights simply refers to pieces of hair that are lighter than your base colour. This is true whether you’re a blonde, a brunette or a redhead. Highlights are placed strategically by a colourist to give you hair a fresh, youthful look and provide some variety to a standard solid colour look; they bring brightness to the selected strands and can also make the hair appear fuller.

When you ask your hairdresser for highlights, he or she will generally choose a foiling technique, using pieces of foil to separate the hair that they plan to lighten from the hair that won’t be touched. Next, lightener – usually hydrogen peroxide mixed with colour — will be applied to those strands with a brush and they will be wrapped in the foil to allow them to process or cure.

Partial vs. Full Highlights

There are various options when deciding upon highlights, but the most significant decision is whether to request full highlights or partial highlights. Full highlights mean that hair will be lightened in every section of your head. In contrast, partial highlights are strands of colour applied only to certain areas of the hair, such as the hair that frames your face or the top half of your head. There are pros and cons to each approach and it is possible to mix the two strategies over time.

Full highlights offer a more dramatic look, because they wrap all the way around the head, including the underside of your hair. This makes them visible when you wear an updo or a ponytail. Partial highlights usually offer a more natural look, as if your hair has been kissed by the sun.

Of course, since your entire head is involved, full highlights take more time to achieve and are more expensive, since more work is involved. The regrowth can be harsher, given the colour contrast, and may need to be done every six to eight weeks. Some people choose to have full highlights done once or twice each year and touch them up with partial highlights in between.

If you are hoping to add a bit more zing to your appearance without adding to your wardrobe, perhaps it’s time to consider highlights to your hair. Highlights are a wonderful way to add depth and contrast to your look, no matter which hairstyle you prefer.

What Are The Benefits of Full Highlights?

There are good reasons for choosing full highlights:

  • Dramatic effect: Full highlights take you from dark to light in one fell swoop, providing a complete change.
  • Myriad options: You can choose from among a range of shades and a mix is possible.
  • Versatile: Full highlights look wonderful on all kinds of hair: straight or curly, shorter or long. They also suit any style you choose, whether your hair is up or down, in braids or in a ponytail.
  • Volume: Fine hair, especially, will look fuller, because full highlights add texture and dimension.
  • Colour consistency: Your hair will look similar all the way around your head, with streaks of highlight colour alternating with your base colour.

What Are The Benefits of Partial Highlights?

  • More natural: Partial highlights appear as if your hair has been naturally lightened by the sun in places; onlookers will still see your natural colour, too.
  • Less expensive: Since less time is required to do partial highlights, the treatment is cheaper than full highlights.
  • Less damaging: By highlighting only a small segment of your hair, you’re not exposing all of it to chemicals.
  • Loyalty: If you like your base colour, you can simply brighten your hair, rather than change your overall look.

How to Choose Between Partial and Full Highlights

So, what to do, what to do? Is it better to choose full highlights or partial? It depends on your goals, but if you are undecided, you can consult with your stylist and/or colourist. As noted earlier, you can also intersperse full highlight treatments with partial highlight touch-ups; discuss the options with your professionals.

If you want to move toward blonde hair, full highlights are a good approach, since you can move gradually in that direction. If you prefer to be more subtle, it makes more sense to try partial highlights. They are also a good way to test the waters to see if you’d like to add more or increasingly dramatic colour to your hair.

Whichever you choose, you’ll love the excitement of a new look.