What To Consider Before Highlighting Curly Hair

You might love the idea of highlights, but if you have curly hair, you need to take a few things into account before you book your salon appointment. Although highlights can certainly add a wow factor to your tresses, they can also negatively impact your curls.

The process of coloring can damage any type of hair, but if you have curls, they could become less tight as a result. Additionally, ongoing maintenance is essential once the highlights have been applied. "Will you condition and mask your hair regularly? Will you gently detangle your hair? Are you the 'wear a bun for a week at a time without combing your hair out and re-moisturizing' type of person?" Jaxcee, a colorist and founder of The Coily Collective, told InStyle. "If you're not prepared to maintain your hair at home, I don't see highlights in your future."

Just because you've been blessed with curly locks doesn't mean highlights are out of the question, though. Understanding that highlights are a commitment can help mentally prepare you for the journey ahead. The next step is to find the right stylist for your curly hair who has experience with coloring it. This can give you additional peace of mind, especially if you're new to dyeing your tresses in any capacity.

What to consider before highlighting your curls

One of the biggest points you should keep in mind as someone with curly tresses is that hydration will become more essential post-highlighting. In general, curls are more prone to breakage and dryness — and you may already know this if you care for your locks with leave-in conditioner, hair masks, and other moisturizing treatments. Ideally, your stylist should be extra gentle when highlighting your hair to prevent damage and maintain your curl pattern.

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration when highlighting curly hair is that the curls themselves will likely determine where color is added. "The technique is different — if the highlights are too small there's a chance they could get lost in the hair," stylist Tori McCutcheon told InStyle. Curls reflect light differently than straight locks, which means that colors may appear differently on this type of hair. Again, be mindful of the stylist you choose to highlight your hair — the person should be well-versed in not only coloring and highlighting, but working with your hair type. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, don't be afraid to ask your stylist questions before proceeding.

At the end of the day, these factors shouldn't hold you back from highlighting your curls. Instead, use this information as reassurance that you know what you're getting into when you decide to color your tresses.

How to handle post-highlight hair maintenance

One of the biggest benefits of having colored curly hair is that you can typically go longer between appointments. "Curly hair tends to be more forgiving when it comes to the grow-out process," stylist Tori McCutcheon told InStyle. "It depends on how rooty you're okay with. If you enjoy a more polished look, get your highlights retouched every two to three months. If you love a more grown-out look, wait four to six months in between appointments."

That being said, this doesn't mean you don't need to keep up with routine maintenance in between salon appointments. In order to keep your tresses healthy, it's essential to keep them moisturized — even more so after highlighting or coloring. You can do this with a number of different products, such as hair masks and bond-building treatments. However, post-coloring care can also be as simple as turning down your water temperature in the shower. This can help seal your hair cuticles and preserve the color for longer. Shampooing your tresses less frequently can also help you maintain moisture while extending the lifespan of your highlights.

Finally, you may want to consider switching up the haircare products you use once you color your curls. Using shampoo and conditioner that is formulated specifically for colored, curly hair, for example, can help you keep your tresses healthy and gorgeous.