Which is more damaging, highlights or color?

Seductive woman with blonde hair

  • Full coloring damages your hair more than highlights because you need to touch up your roots every month. Each hair dye application dries out your hair fiber.
  • On the other hand, highlights are touched up every 3 or 4 months, and only the bleached strands (and not all your hair) are damaged.

That’s not all!


In this article, I’ll help you decide whether you’re better off coloring your entire hair or getting highlights according to your answer to these 2 questions:

  • ¿How radical a change are you looking for in your hair?
  • What’s your hair health like before coloring it?


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


Do I get highlights or dye all my hair?

Which option is less damaging to my hair?


This is a fairly common question, especially when your first gray hair appears and you have to decide which way to go to avoid ruining your hair.

Do you know what?


I’ll give you a piece of advice that I always give my clients.

 Starting with highlights or fine highlights is a very wise decision,  especially if your first gray hair started to appear. The highlights will disguise them and you won’t become a slave to the hair dye.


Yes, I said “slave” because  once you start coloring your hair, you’ll need monthly touch-ups.  On the other hand, if you do highlights, you’ll only have to go to the salon every three months or more (depending on your highlights)


Blonde woman covers her ears

As I told you before, that’s my advice: you can take it or leave it. However, is this advice valid for all situations?


Of course, not.

I advise you to opt for highlights only if you want to tone down your base color or hide some gray hair, and your hair is healthy.

But  if you want a radical change or if your hair is already damaged, your options change. 

Then, forget about what I said before. In this case, you need to decide if you need dyeing or bleaching. I’ll tell you more about this later.

What is more damaging, highlights or color?

Hairdresser dyeing highlights on short hair

To answer this question, let’s look at each case:

  • In full color, all the hair is colored, and the roots must be retouched every month since every 15 to 20 days new hairs are born, and you can see the growth of your natural hair (gray hair included)

In addition, the color fades a little after each wash. Therefore,  every month you dry the hair fiber a little more  to give it color again.


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  • When you get highlights, only a few strands are bleached to achieve different shades. This is repeated every 2 or 3 months or even longer.

Therefore, the hair doesn’t dry out completely. Only the bleached strands do. 

Have you drawn your own conclusions?


I’m not against full color, but if you have a choice between highlights and full color, I’d say highlights do less damage to your hair.

They are also trendy and customizable.


2 questions you should answer before getting highlights or full color

beautiful hair with lowlights

Question 1: How radical a change are you looking for?

As I said before, highlights are less damaging than full color because only a few strands are bleached. However, how about going from a few strands to more?

What if you want to go from a dark brown to a platinum blonde?


Then,  the damage you’ll do to your hair will be more serious.  In fact, this change will probably require several bleaching sessions. So, what’s the verdict?


Well,  if you’re looking for such a radical change, the full color will be less damaging to your hair than bleaching. 

On the other hand,  if you do just a few highlights  to brighten up your hair,  your hair will still look healthier than coloring it monthly. 

Before I go any further, let me tell you something important.


Whichever way you choose,  remember that bleaching must be done carefully. 

It should be done by a professional hairdresser, as the hair gets hot during bleaching. You run the risk of burning your hair.


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Question 2: What is the condition of your hair before coloring it?

Your hair health will greatly influence the final decision between coloring it or just doing highlights. . Why?


Bleaching healthy hair isn’t the same as bleaching dry, damaged hair, that has been bleached many times before or hair that has been straightened several times.

 Damaged hair has a high chance of breaking during bleaching.  It can turn gummy and fall out.

In these cases, I don’t recommend bleaching at all. If your hair is damaged you are better off choosing the full color as it’ll be less damaging.



As I told you in this article, highlights or full hair color are more or less damaging  depending on your hair health and how radical a change you want for your new look. 

  • Highlights are much less damaging than full color when your hair is healthy, and you want a little change.
  • But  full color is preferable if your hair has been previously bleached or straightened  and is damaged.


Whatever your final decision, always moisturize and nourish your hair so you can keep it looking its best!

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