Partial Highlights vs. Full Highlights: What You Need to Know | Hair.com UKI
Colour Trends

Partial Highlights vs. Full Highlights: What You Need to Know

25 October 2018
close of hair highlights being done

Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

If the idea of getting highlights makes you feel a little anxious, you’re not alone. The pressure to choose a secondary shade that blends perfectly into the colour scheme you’ve already got going on, to make sure you’re choosing the right kind, and to maintain them—it’s a lot.

Don’t panic. Highlights, whether they’re partial highlights or full, are universally flattering. No colourist in the world is going to let you choose a hideous colour without saying something.

Still, deciding between partial and full highlights is a choice you’ll have to make on your own. No worries, because we’re about to deep dive into both techniques to help you make the most educated decision on the subject.

Why Should Any Woman Get Highlights?

Highlights are the most effective way to add dimension to any hair colour...They can be as pronounced or as subtle as you like and are a great asset when you are wanting to blend away grey hair or wishing for a softer grow out.

In other words, highlights are basically a photo editing app for your hair colour. Whether you’re growing out a dramatic hair colour or just pulling attention away from a haircut you don’t love, they’re an excellent investment for women of all ages and hair types.

woman with blonde highlights

What Are Partial Highlights?

Now that you know why highlights are important, we can break down the techniques involved. As the name suggests, partial highlights only cover a section of your hair.

Instead of bold, bright colour, you’ll be left with subtle and gradual light pieces. The service will most likely cost less than a full head of highlights, and take half the time to complete.

In other words: Partial highlights are primarily a way to transition into the world of accent hair colours.

woman with partial highlights hair colour red

What Are Full Highlights?

If partial highlights are the hair equivalent of a sepia-toned photograph, then full highlights are bright, bold colour—a whole rainbow of it. While the former may invite friends to ask if you’ve done something different with your look, the later will be self-evident.

Don’t get too excited if this sounds too good to be true. After all, every rose has its thorn.

Unlike partial highlights, full highlights will cost a bit more money. Still, that there’s no need to constantly touch up this technique. Instead, you can opt for partial highlights to freshen up your colour upon return visits to the salon.

Which Technique Is The Most Popular?

It’s a close race for most popular highlighting technique. We live in an age of lightning fast internet, smartphones, and social media. Instant gratification is our bread and butter, essentially.

With that in mind, full highlights have a slight lead on their less-shocking counterpart.

Another reason for the popularity of the full head of highlights? You can play it up as much as you want or ask your colourist to keep those streaks fine and subtle (an application technique known as babylights).

There’s no one way to wear highlights, and having a full head gives you more of an opportunity to play around with them. When it comes to your mane, versatility is always the best option.

woman with light brown partial highlights hair colour

What’s The Smartest Way To Keep Highlights Looking Their Best?

Like all hair colour, highlighted strands can become “dull and dingy” within a matter of a few days—particularly if they’re blonde. Conjures up the image of a white linen shirt being worn around a city as a metaphor. Pollution and grit will sit on the surface, making the fabric less white with every passing day. You’ll definitely plan to add bleach before throwing it in the wash.

When it comes to blonde strands, the bleach equivalent is a deep, cleansing wash. Try Redken's Clean Maniac Micellar Clean-Touch Shampoo. 

If shampoo and conditioner aren’t cutting it, we advise talking to your colourist about a new highlight colour. Keeping the shade fresh will help you love your ‘do just a little bit more.

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