How to do highlighter hair

Move aside, pretty pastels – the hottest look turning heads this season is a stroke of neon genius


Rainbow hair is nothing new, but often it errs on the side of caution  – think creamy peaches, muted lilacs and soft pinks. But what about your clients who really want to make a statement? Well, the unlikely inspiration can be found in your pencil case…

“We are starting to see the Highlighter Hair trend return as we head towards summer, but this time with even more colours from the spectrum,” explains Janet Maitland, of Janet Maitland Hair Excellence. “Inspired by the vivid hues worn by the likes of Kylie Jenner, this season the must-have trend will be for bright hair that allows the wearer to express themselves.”

Jason Hogan, associate colourist at Josh Wood Colour, agrees that this trend is fuelled by celebrities, who post their colourful looks on Instagram. “Neon hair has been steadily snowballing since Kim Kardashian wore neon green hair while on holiday in Miami last August – she even rented a neon green Lamborghini to compliment her look,” says Jason. “Following Kim in the neon tresses trend were younger sister Kylie Jenner and Cardi B. On the high street to we have seen neon popping up in S/S clothing collections too.”

The colour palette is so bright it glows – reach for your pencil case and get inspired by the classic highlighter shades – deep fuchsia pink, slime green and tangerine orange all make a huge impact. Ke$ha and Sza have both adopted toxic greens, while model Slick Woods has been known to add a burst of neon colour to her famous buzzcut.

So, how can these punchy looks be best replicated in the salon? “The hair must be lifted to a palest blonde for this colour to work, and even someone who is already blonde may have to have the hair lightened again to achieve a really clean palette,” says Jason. “Once this is reached, pre-toning is necessary to neutralise any remaining yellow and then you layer on your desired neon shade. With neon colours the intensity fades quickly, so maintenance is high to keep this colour looking its best.”

“I’d recommend using Schwarzkopf Professional’s IGORA ColorWorx, which comes in Intense or Concentrates,” says Janet. “The Intense are Schwarzkopf’s brightest direct dyes ever in four colours – Mauve, Fuchsia, Turquoise and Coral. Just apply directly to light or pre-lightened hair for bold results. Meanwhile the Concentrates come in seven shades and are intermixable, meaning you can create bespoke colours and individual looks for clients who want something a little different.”

Images: @kylie jenner, @imcardib,@iiswhoiis, @slickwoods, @sza