Are highlights permanent or do they fade as you wash them?

  • Traditional highlights are permanent because you have to bleach your hair to get them and bleaching your hair causes an irreversible change to it.
  • Although highlights are permanent, it’s also true that the color loses some of its brightness and shine as you wash your hair. That’s why you should get your highlights touched up about every 3 months.
  • Sometimes you can get highlights with semi-permanent dye. Those kinds of highlights do fade as you wash them, since semi-permanent dyes only deposit color on the surface of your hair.



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If you’ve come here, then you probably find yourself in one of two situations:

  1. You want to get highlights but you’re not 100% sure about them, so you want to know if you’ll be able to undo them if you end up regretting getting the highlights.
  2. You got highlights and you really aren’t happy with how they turned out, so you want to get rid of them.


If you are in a situation similar to the first one, then you still have time to choose kind of highlights you want to get, depending on how long you want them to last. I’ll get into more depth on that point in a few moments.


If, on the other hand, you already highlighted your hair, you’re not happy with how it turned out and now you want to know when they’ll disappear, I have bad news.

Because if you bleached your hair to get your highlights, that change is permanent. There’s no going back.


The pigments in those pieces of hair were modified and not even praying the whole rosary will make those highlights fade.

The only way to make highlights fade is by prepigmenting your hair, and then using a permanent dye. This color process is a complicated one that you should see a professional for if you care about your hair health.


 That’s why it’s important to get help when it comes time to do a complicated color change. It’s best to go to a beauty salon and talk long and hard with the hair colorist there. 

Because they will know to tell you which color changes with highlights are temporary and which are not.


When a client comes into my salon to get highlights, before they even show me the picture with the look they’re hoping for, I invite them to think about a few questions. And now, I’ll invite you to do the same.

Because if it’s the first time you’re going to get highlights, not asking the right questions can get you in trouble.


Try to consider:

  • What happens if you don’t like the color?
  • What options do you have for fixing it?
  • What happens if you decide you want to darken your highlights because you don’t want them any lighter?
  • Can you cover them with a dye?
  • How often will you need to touch them up?


All of these questions are intended to help you truly understand that highlights are a permanent change in your hair.


So, stick with me, because I’ll tell you:

  • Differences between temporary and permanent highlights
  • How to take care of your hair if you decide you want permanent highlights

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Differences between temporary and permanent highlights


There are two kinds of highlights: temporary and permanent.

You always use one of two techniques to do highlights: cap or foil.


No matter which of the techniques you want to use, your highlights will be permanent. They won’t disappear as you wash your hair or as you straighten it or when you go into chlorinated water.

What will happen is that when you use heated styling tools or wash your hair often, your highlights will lose their tone, which you chose the first time you got them done.

But, your bleached hair, where the highlights are, will continue to be that way: bleached.


That process is irreversible. As irreversible as time and aging.  Because when the bleach mix is depositing on your hair, it gets into the deepest parts of your hair fiber, getting rid of the pigments there forever. 

Bleach changes your hair so much that you might even notice it’s more porous after the process.


So, if you decided to get highlights and then you didn’t like them, you’ll need to prepigment your hair, and then use a permanent dye on your it.

Why do you need to prepigment your hair?


Because if you only use a dye, the color will fade as you wash your hair and the highlights will appear again.

You’re not up for getting highlights that won’t disappear with time?


You can try temporary highlights.

How do you get them? With semi-permanent dye.


  • The advantages?

You can see how highlights look on you and if you don’t like them, they’ll disappear after about 2-3 months, depending on how often you wash your hair.

 The more your wash your hair, the quicker the highlights will disappear. 


  • The disadvantages?

You won’t be able to opt for light highlights if you have dark hair, since semi-permanent dyes can’t lighten your hair more than 2-3 shades.


How to take care of your hair if you decide you want permanent highlights

brown hair

If you’ve already gotten highlights by bleaching your hair and you want to keep them brighter for longer, you need to take care of your hair.

Because although highlights don’t fade, some unwanted colors can appear in your hair with time.


  • Classic highlights done with bleach dehydrate and dry out your hair, so you’ll need to nurture it with intensive treatments at least once a week.

You can choose a cream bath or a homemade or commercial mask, whatever is best for you. But, no matter which you choose, do it and be consistent about it. Once a week!


  • It’s also important to trim your ends every three months so your hair looks healthy and doesn’t lose its movement.


  • It’s also important to include a toning shampoo in your hair care routine at least once a week.

This kind of shampoo will neutralize unwanted colors that appear in your hair after having highlights for some time. If your highlights turn a copper color, you can use a blue shampoo. And if your highlights turn more yellow, use purple shampoo.


  • Lastly, you should touch up your highlights about every 3 months to keep the highlighted effect in your hair.



Highlights are a permanent color change in your hair and once they’re done, you can’t get rid of them because you are basically getting rid of pigments and changing your hair’s structure when you bleach it.


If you don’t want a permanent change, you always have the option of getting highlights with a semi-permanent dye, but you should keep in mind that you can’t lighten your hair more than 2-3 shades where you want the highlights to go.

And now tell me: Are you set on doing a permanent change to your hair with highlights?

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