How to darken highlights in 5 easy ways.

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Do you want to darken your highlights but don’t know how? Or maybe you’ve tried a few methods, but nothing seems to work. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to refresh your highlights without spending all day in the salon. Here are five easy ways to darken your highlights and make them look their best! 

How to darken highlights – 5 expert methods

Method #1 Use a Toner

The simplest way to darken highlights is with toner, which is applied after bleaching but before coloring. This helps achieve the desired tone and hue, while removing unwanted orange tones and brassiness.

Toners for blonde hair are formulated using shades of violet and blue, so keep that in mind when selecting the right one for you.

And follow the instructions carefully – although toner won’t damage your hair, using too much or leaving toner in for too long can make your hair color too dark. And toner can be hard to remove!

Method #2 Gloss Treatment

Gloss treatments are great for deepening existing colors without making dramatic changes. They also provide extra shine, improve condition of the hair cuticles, and last about four weeks.

Gloss treatments usually come in clear or semi-permanent colors that can be used to deepen highlights without stripping them of their original tone. Add some gloss if you want to add some depth while still keeping your natural tones intact. 

Method #3: Semi-Permanent Color

For more drastic changes in color that won’t damage your hair too much (or at all), semi-permanent hair color is a great option.

Semi-permanent hair colors are deposit-only dyes or direct dyes that sit on top of your existing hair color, adding dimension and richness by staining your hair while leaving your original highlights intact.

Keep in mind that semi-permanent colors will fade over time since they don’t penetrate deeply into the strands like permanent colors do (which means no damage!).  

Method #4 Permanent Color

If you’re looking for something more long lasting, permanent hair color may be just what you need.

Permanent hair colors have ammonia which opens up the cuticle of the hair shaft allowing for deep penetration of pigments into each strand—resulting in longer lasting color that won’t fade quickly like semi-permanent ones do.

This can be used to enhance existing highlights by making them darker or even adding more dimension through lowlights (darker strands woven throughout lighter strands).

A root smudge or balayage lowlights are two of the best techniques for darkening highlighted hair. These are best left to a professional colorist in your local salon!

Method #5 At-home methods

If all else fails, there are plenty of natural ways to darken your highlights at home without having to go through all the hassle of visiting a salon or using any chemicals on your hair (which is always nice!).

Some of these methods include using natural ingredients such as coffee grounds or tea bags which can help add darkness and richness back into your hair without any harsh chemicals involved – plus they also smell amazing so what’s not love? 

How to darken highlights before and after

Why darken your highlights?

It seems topsy turvy, but there are a few good reasons why you’d need to darken your highlights:

  • Highlighting your hair is one of the most popular ways to switch up your look. But if you’re looking for a change, darkening your highlights can be an effective way to do it – plus, it’s typically cheaper than starting from scratch and having to bleach!
  • Darkening your highlights can take away that ‘overdone’ feeling that you might get when your hair is too bright and saturated, particularly if you’ve used foils or an at-home highlighting kit to highlight your hair. It might be just the subtle change that you were looking for, or give you the perfect base to play around with colour in future if so desired.
  • Darkening your highlights is an ideal way of freshening up a look and bringing balance back into the equation – in terms of both color and fashion choice!

How can I tone down my blonde highlights?

Blonde highlights can be gorgeous and make a statement, but sometimes you might want to tone bright blonde highlights down.

There are plenty of ways to reduce the oomph of your blonde highlights without sacrificing style.

Color-correcting shampoos – like blue or purple shampoos – or toners found at beauty stores are the best way to go about this. They’ll help to reduce the brightness of your blonde highlights without having to dye your hair all over again.

They’ll also remove any green tones or unwanted brassy orange or yellow tones in your blonde locks.

You can also apply a semi-permanent color that’s slightly darker than your natural color and gradually switch up the shade until you get the desired result!

Finally, gloss treatments are an excellent way to add shine while also darkening the color of your highlights – it’s a win-win!

What to do if highlights are too yellow?

If you got your highlights and found that they are a little too yellow-toned, don’t panic!

This often happens if you have brown hair with blonde highlights and the underlying warmth begins to show through. The easiest way to fix it is to use a toner or color balance shampoo.

They eliminate and neutralize orange and yellow tones by using opposite colors on the hair color wheel so make sure you get the right highlight shade you’re looking for.

If toning doesn’t work, consider visiting a professional so they can tweak your color balance until everything is looking just right.

Whatever you do, don’t give up – with a few adjustments, those overly-bright highlights will soon be replaced by beautiful golden tresses.

How long will highlights last?

Depending on the kind of highlights you get, your highlights could last anywhere from six weeks to three months.

The type of highlighting technique used, the quality of products used in application, as well as the porosity of your hair can all influence how long highlights will last.

On average, lighter shades tend to need refreshing in three to five months, but darker shades may stick around for up to six months or longer.

T-section highlights tend to fade after about four weeks and half-head highlights can usually hold up for around eight weeks before needing a refresh.

Regular maintenance with hair care products made for colored hair and avoiding harsh shampoos and drying heat tools can help you achieve longer lasting highlights.

With a little extra effort, a stunning head of highlights are definitely yours to keep!

Parting words.

Darkening your highlights can be a bit of an uphill battle, but with the right approach it’s certainly achievable.

Just remember to always seek out professional advice and consider all factors when deciding which method is best for you – whether it’s using ammonia-based dyes or simply toning down with the help of color correcting shampoos.

Whichever way you choose, darkening your highlights will make sure you stay on trend and that your look is constantly evolving. So don’t be afraid to experiment! Good luck!

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!