Do highlights get lighter after a few days?

after a few washes

  • Yes, highlights lighten as days go by and you wash your hair. The more you wash your hair, the faster the color will fade.
  • If you want your highlights to last longer without lightening, you need to choose the products you use to wash your hair with that in mind and you need to be very careful with your hair care routine.
  • But sooner or later, even if you’re very careful with your highlights, they will eventually lighten, and you’ll need to touch up your color.


When you get highlights, you need to be aware that you’ll have to keep up with a maintenance routine, since they won’t always look the same.

 As days and washes go by, and your hair is exposed to sunlight, highlights tend to lighten. And it’s not because the salon made a mistake.  

Do you know exactly what highlights are?


I’m asking you this question because a lot of women show up at the salon and don’t pay any attention while the stylist goes through the process of doing their highlights. It’s easy to get distracted by your phone or the magazines the salon offers.

Highlights are a bleach technique in which the stylist will put a cap over your hair or wrap it in foil, separating out small areas to bleach. They purposely choose the areas to separate so that they’ll form those perfect little highlights once your stylist has used the dye over your bleached locks.

The areas that the stylist bleaches will turn almost completely white. Does that little detail tell you something?


As highlights fade, that almost-white color starts to show through. And that’s why it’ll seem like your highlights are lighter.

 There’s nothing you can do to avoid the highlights lightening, but what you can do is make the dye last longer. 


To do that, you need to be strict about maintaining your highlights, putting a special emphasis on them in your hair care routine.

And that is exactly what I’m about to tell you about, so keep reading because I’ll tell you:

  • How often you need to touch up your highlight’s color
  • How to take care of your highlights so they last longer


After all, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” or, as we say in the hair care world: “If you can’t avoid your highlights lightening, you should know how to keep your color as long as possible.”


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How often do you need to touch up your highlights if you want them to always look the same

takes three hours

To avoid your highlights looking lighter after a certain number of washes, you’ll have to touch up the color of your highlights. Unfortunately, with techniques that involve bleach like highlights, you have to be very strict about maintenance.

You should be prepared to touch up your highlights every five or six weeks. Religiously.

It doesn’t matter if you got cap or foil highlights because the maintenance schedule is the same.

Do you know why?


Your hair grows about half an inch a month, so after 5-6 weeks, you’ll have about ¾ of an inch of growth at your roots.

 And, since you bleach your hair starting at the roots for your highlights, you’ll need to touch them up to avoid your roots looking uneven or uncared for. 


Some of my clients that have highlights decide to touch them up every 7-8 weeks. In some people’s cases, their hair doesn’t grow as quickly, or they like when their roots look dark. For some other people, they just don’t have the time.

In any case, the result is always the same: the color of the highlights fades.


What I tell these clients is that they should at least do a color maintenance, so their highlights look as good as new. It’s easy and doesn’t take as long as a full touch up.

What would that maintenance be like?


 In the salon, your hair colorist will use dye on wet hair and leave it in for 20 minutes. Then, after they rinse and dry your hair, the color will be like new.  

You can do this color maintenance every 3 weeks, depending on what color your highlights are. You’ll need to touch up lighter colors more often than darker ones.

  • If your highlights are really light, then every 3 weeks would be ideal.
  • If your highlights are more of a medium color, you can do color maintenance every 4-5 weeks and a total touch up every 5-6 weeks.

My recommendation?


If your highlights are a medium color, like light brown or blonde, wait and do the full maintenance instead of going in beforehand for the color maintenance. That way your hair won’t be as damaged by the processes.

Because we shouldn’t forget that highlights are a color technique that requires bleach and your hair will suffer from the bleaching process because of the chemicals it uses.

Now, besides color touch-ups, is there anything else you can do so your highlights’ color lasts longer?


Of course! You just need to make a few changes in your hair care routine to make your highlights not lighten so fast.

Do you want to know what those changes are?


If so, keep reading.


How to care for your highlights so the color lasts longer

To make your highlights’ color last longer, the first thing you need to do is change your hair care routine.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to make any dramatic changes; after all, your goal is to make your highlights last longer.

 All you need to do is make a few changes to make your color last for six full weeks. 


  • Use shampoo made for blonde hair.

These kinds of shampoos contain small doses of blonde dye. Every time you wash your hair with the shampoo, you’ll notice that it tones your highlights a little bit. All you need to do is replace your normal shampoo with the shampoo for blonde hair.


  • Don’t overuse moisturizing masks.

If you use a mask every 15 days, your hair will have all the nutrients it needs. Masks contain chemicals that cause dyes to fade quickly, so if you use a mask every week, you’ll need to go back to the salon after two weeks.


  • Don’t wash your hair every day, even if you use shampoo for blonde hair.

Washing your hair too much isn’t good for it since it weakens it and makes it lose the natural oils your scalp generates.


You’ll be able to make your highlights last 5-6 weeks if you follow this routine, so you can avoid a color maintenance visit between your full touch-ups.


Now you know that no matter what, your highlights will lighten, but you also are aware that there are many things you can do to extend your highlights’ life.

How often do you touch up your highlights’ color?

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