Without a salon visit in your near future, you can still lighten up your hair using one of the best at-home highlighting kits. Blondes, redheads, and those with dark hair can achieve luscious highlights at home simply by choosing the right box.
To ensure you're getting the right product for your desired end look, it’s important to choose an at-home color kit specifically formulated for highlights and in a shade labeled for your current hair color (i.e. "for light brown hair") rather than the color you want to achieve. “Choose a kit that's only one shade lighter than your base color,” according to celebrity colorist Rita Hazan in an interview with Glamour.
Highlights for red hair are a bit more nuanced in that you don't need to stick to a formula intended for red hair. Instead, look for a highlight color with "warm" or "golden" tones that will add dimension while still harmonizing with your base color, according to Patricia Slattery, a hair color expert at L'Oreal (Garnier's parent company).
Another thing to consider is the application method of the kit. Do you prefer one that includes a brush, a pull-through cap, or a fingertip applicator? Some kits will also include a conditioner since highlighting can dry out hair, but if the one you're eying doesn't, it's always a good idea to add a deep conditioner to your hair routine to keep your color-treated locks looking their best. That's why I've included a popular deep conditioning keratin treatment to this roundup as well.
Each one of these highlighting kits is highly rated on Amazon and less than $20, so just let your current base color guide you to the best at-home highlighting kit for you.
1. The Best For Dark Hair
The Revlon Frost & Glow Honey highlighting kit brings honey highlights to medium or dark brown hair with an ammonia-free formula. The highlights can be soft and subtle or bolder depending on how long the product is left on strands and how much hair is pulled through the provided cap. It's the go-to highlighting kit for singer Jessie James Decker, whose YouTube tutorial using the Revlon kit has more than 2 million views. It also is a favorite among other brunette YouTube beauty reviewers, like Deanndra Nunnery, who said of the product, "[...]honestly I think this is the only highlighting kit I will ever use in the future. [...]I have used other highlighting kits in the past where once I got done highlighting my hair I was like 'oh what the heck it's orange' [...] and I don't feel that way with this highlighting kit."
If you have light brown hair, there is also a Frost & Glow kit designed for your base color.
Fans say: “I am so thrilled with the results of this highlighting kit. I was very hesitant to try it since I have dark brown hair with no highlights but I am super glad I did...It turned the most beautiful warm honey shade and it blends in perfectly with the rest of my hair. It's very similar to the ombre look that is so hot right now. I would never pay top $$ again to highlight my hair. This works wonderfully and I can do it in the convenience of my own home. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!”
2. The Best For Blonde Hair
If your base color is light blonde or dark blonde, this easy-to-use Clairol highlighting kit gives the low-maintenance and popular look of balayage highlights. Available as a convenient three-pack, each highlighter kit comes with a conditioner, developing cream, and highlighting powder to be applied with a brush. Reviewers love the sun-kissed blond highlights this kit provides, with one noting that there was "no hint of orange or brassiness."
One thing to note about this kit: It was formerly referred to as Clairol Nice 'N Easy Hairpainting Blonde Highlights, but has since been rebranded into separate balayage kits for blondes and dark hair, and now comes with just a brush for application, instead of a pull-through cap, according to a company spokesperson. For that reason, this kit wins points for its straightforward application method.
Fans say: “Of the different hair painting kits I have used, I find that Clairol Nice 'n Easy Hairpainting Blonde Hair Highlights kit gives me the most natural looking highlights on my medium blonde hair. I was happy to find this product on amazon.com!!”
3. The Best For Red Hair
Garnier's Nutrisse line of nourishing hair color kits with shea, avocado, and olive oils comes in a golden blonde shade specifically for highlights, and it's a great choice for bringing subtle highlights to light red hair (read: ginger or strawberry blonde), according to L'Oreal expert Slattery. If your hair is darker red, Slattery recommended the same Garnier kit but in a warm bronze, to add dimension to red hair. This highly rated kit, boasting more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon, is also good for complete gray coverage. It comes with an applicator brush and a packet of grape seed oil for extra nourishment to hair after the color treatment.
Fans say: “Beautiful and super soft brownish red hair! Not only was I getting tons of complements, my hair didn't feel all frizzy after dying it. No one could believe it was from a box!"
4. The Best Dual Kit: All-Over Color & Highlighter In One
With several options for light or dark hair, this is the best choice for anyone who wants highlights at home but also wants to change their base color. A fingertip applicator and highly visible blue formula make it easy to add highlights exactly where you want them. The dual-system coloring kit is highly rated on Amazon with more than 1,000 reviews and takes the guesswork out of matching a new base color to the right shade of highlights.
Fans say: “I've been using this product since it first came out. Since I was 16 (many, many, many years ago!) I've been highlighting my hair with kits, but when this product came out I was starting to grey and I liked the idea it was all-in-one package so the highlights matched the color. I love this product, and haven't had a bad experience. It is easy and inexpensive [...]."
Also Nice: A Deep Conditioner With Vitamins
The permanent dyes in highlighting kits can be damaging to hair, so it's helpful to add a deep conditioner to this routine. This nourishing hair mask conditions hair by delivering seriously hydrating nutrients deep into hair strands, like sea buckthorn berry, which is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and omega fatty acids, including the elusive omega-7 that promotes the production of collagen. You'll also find jojoba seed oil that seals split ends and strengthens hair.
What's more, this cruelty-free deep conditioner gives color-treated hair the moisture it needs for renewed elasticity and shine, and it's a favorite of one Allure editor, who credited it with restoring her processed platinum blonde hair to silky-soft strands. Byrdie loves this mask for repairing damaged hair, too.
Fans say: “This is hands-down the best deep conditioner I've ever used. I have balayage hair (and long hair) so I need a good conditioner to keep my hair looking healthy and soft. I have used this both as a mask and as a "regular" conditioner, and I have to say, you don't have to leave it on long for it to work. It easily detangles your hair and makes it super soft after rinsing and drying. Highly recommend!"
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