Do highlights damage your hair? Can they cause hair loss?


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Are you considering getting highlights? Do you want to know if they can damage your hair?



Just so you know, I have never met anyone that ended up bald because of a few highlights. So, I’ll go ahead and tell you:

  • If your hair is strong and healthy, highlights won’t damage your hair because your hair will be well-equipped to undergo the bleaching process.
  • If your hair is weak, then highlights might damage your hair more, so in that case, there is a possibility that you could experience hair loss because of the damage.
  • That’s why your best bet is to evaluate your hair’s health before you get the highlights to make sure that it won’t cause your hair any harm.


I’m going to tell you a story that you can use to come to your conclusions.


Two friends came to my salon two months ago wanting to get highlights.


Anna wanted to get balayage-type highlights, while Marissa wanted highlights throughout her hair to lighten up her light brown color.

Just by looking at both of their hairs, I knew I was going to lose a client that day.

Want to know why?



Because the first thing I asked them to do was to have a seat so I could have a look at their hair to evaluate it. They looked at me surprised. And they’re not the first ones to have that reaction. People think that because they’re paying for treatment, the hairstylist is obligated to do it.

But the truth is that a good hairstylist will tell you if your hair is in good enough shape to do whatever treatment you’re hoping to get, highlights or otherwise.


Getting back to our pair of friends, Anna’s hair was very healthy. You could tell that she took good care of it; it was well-moisturized, soft and not frizzy. Her hair would have no problem with the chemical process behind highlights.


 But Marissa’s hair was very mistreated. Just by touching it, I could tell that it was lacking in nutrition and hydration. It felt like gum when I stretched it and her ends were split. 

Yes, we could cut them off to get rid of them, but that wouldn’t completely recover her hair’s health.


When I told her that I couldn’t do the highlights, her face went from pale to red to purple. It was like I’d proposed shaving her head.


She didn’t listen to reason and both she and her friend left the salon as sure as when they had entered that they both wanted to get highlights.

But, about two weeks ago, Anna came back to see me. She apologized for how they had acted before and made an appointment to get her highlights.

What had happened to her friend?


 Marissa had gone to four different salons and in each one, they told her that it wasn’t a good idea to get highlights because her hair was so damaged. 

If they tell you that it’s not a good idea in four different salons, then do you think would be a good idea?


None of the stylists had something against Marissa, but they had a million reasons not to do the highlights.

She didn’t understand their reasoning or the consequences of her actions, so she went ahead and did the highlights on her own at home without any experience and without thinking of her damaged hair.

The result?



Her hair was destroyed.

Like, to the point that she now has a pixie cut, which is not what she was originally looking for.

 And it wasn’t her highlights’ fault, because highlights are a classic technique that doesn’t usually produce excess damage to your hair, let alone cause hair loss. 


It was all Marissa’s fault.
First, because her hair wasn’t in the right shape to undergo the process.

And second, because four different salons had warned her about the risks of doing highlights and she ignored their advice and did it anyway.



Your hair’s health is especially important when it comes to chemical processes that require the use of bleach, like, for example, highlights.

That’s why you should stick with me so I can tell you about:

  • Why it’s important to have healthy hair to do highlights
  • How to recuperate damaged hair so you eventually can get highlights 


If you follow all of my advice, then you’ll be able to get highlights without any kind of risk to your hair.



Why it’s important to have healthy hair to get highlights

takes three hours

As we saw in Marissa’s case, if your hair is dry and damaged, it’s very possible that it won’t hold up to bleaching.

That could make your hair break, which would cause it to fall out.


  • Although to be honest with you, there are many myths about hair loss and that bleach or dye will cause it is one of those myths.

You wouldn’t be able to believe the number of times I’ve heard something like, “If you dye or bleach your hair often, it will fall out.”

 And that’s not the truth. It’s more likely that your hair will fall out from an improper diet due to your body lacking certain vitamins or minerals than that it will fall out because of dyes or bleach.  


  • What is true is that if your hair isn’t strong enough, the dye or bleach can weaken your hair fiber which could cause your hair to fall out because of breakage.

What does that mean?


That your hair will break at a certain length and fall out.

The same thing happens when you pull your hair hard or run a comb through it to detangle it. Your hair will break because of it being pulled on.


  • To get highlights, your hair needs to be healthy.

And that doesn’t have anything to do with your hair being dyed or not.

There are plenty of women who’ve never dyed their hair and yet because they don’t take care of it, their hair is damaged.

At the same time, many women bleach their hair or dye it every month, and still have hair in perfect conditions.


 So, if your hair isn’t healthy, don’t get the highlights because you’ll damage it and your highlights will look terrible. 


There are two different ways to do highlights:


With a cap.

With foil.


If you want to do cap highlights and your hair is dry and damaged, then when it comes time to pull your hair through the holes in the cap, some of your hair will probably break and fall out.

If you choose the foil technique, then your hair might burn during the bleaching process because the foil will make the process use more heat, which dry hair cannot take.



As you can see, highlights themselves don’t damage your hair, nor do they make it fall out, as long as your hair is in good shape.


Now, let’s say that Marissa had listened to the stylists’ advice. What should she have done to strengthen her hair to then be able to get highlights?


She’d do the same thing that you can do if you’re in her situation – which I’m about to tell you about.



How to strengthen damaged hair to then be able to get highlights

You can fix some damage in your hair, then when your hair is healthy, you’ll be able to get highlights.

You just need patience and perseverance. And some changes to your hair care routine.


That’s why it’s important to take certain steps after using dye or bleaching your hair.

If you nurture and hydrate your hair, it won’t break, and you won’t have any issues.


  • As a first step, I recommend that you change which shampoos and conditioners you’re using.
 Use shampoos and conditioners from a high-quality brand, without sulfates, and use reparative hair masks at least once a week for a month.  


  • If you notice that you have split ends, it’s a good idea to get them trimmed. You’ll see that taking off just a few inches can work amazingly.


  • You can use a hot oil (coconut or olive work well) hair treatment three days before your treatment to condition your locks.

Remember that although highlights are a safe technique that doesn’t do any excessive damage to your hair, any treatment is dangerous to damaged hair.


A good professional will tell you “no” to highlights the minute they see dry hair because your hair fiber won’t hold up to the treatment.

And if they tell you “no,” then don’t get angry and instead trust them. Don’t mess around with your hair because you might end up weakening it, causing it to break and fall out.



Now that you know that highlights don’t damage your hair, what kind of highlights will you choose for your next new look?

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