Paula Begoun warns that home hair-highlighting kits are not for the faint of heart. Highlighting your hair is a more difficult and time-consuming process than single-process color, even for professionals. But Begoun, along with experts at Shape, Prevention and About.com, says that as long as you're not looking for anything drastic and want to brighten up your look, there's no reason why you can't do your own highlights at home.
The simplest way to get a multitonal look is to purchase a hair color with built-in highlights, such as Clairol Nice 'n Easy (*Est. $9) or L'Oreal Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Color (*Est. $11). Both products blend three tones to give hair a multidimensional look. Consumers at TotalBeauty.com, for the most part, really like the results. Hundreds of users give both products high ratings (7.7 and 7.8 out of 10 stars, respectively). If you want this type of subtle effect, experts at Prevention magazine say to look for colors that include "shimmering," "blended" or "tone-on-tone" in the name.
If you're looking for something slightly more dramatic, a highlighting kit is the way to go. For a simple, affordable home-highlighting option, experts and users alike recommend Revlon Frost & Glow (*Est. $9). This highlighting kit comes with a highlighting cap and a plastic hooking tool to pull strands of hair through the holes in the cap. Reviewers at MakeupAlley.com say that the product really does lift color well, even for those with darker hair. They say the process, although time-consuming and sometimes a bit painful, is simple and easy to use. Frost & Glow is one of the highest-rated hair-dye products at MakeupAlley.com, where more than 200 users give it a high overall rating and consistently praise it for beautiful, salon-quality highlights. A few, however, say that a metal hook works better than the plastic one included with the kit. Metal hooks can be purchased from most beauty supply stores. Revlon Frost & Glow is available in three colors: blonde, honey and chestnut. The manufacturer says highlights can last for two to three months before touch-ups are needed.
Another popular option is L'Oreal's Touch-On Highlights (*Est. $12). This hair-coloring kit comes with a rubber fingertip applicator. It has won beauty awards at both Shape and InStyle magazines, where editors call it the best highlighting kit of the year. Testers for both magazines say that the kit is foolproof and easy to use. Editors at Good Housekeeping say that although Touch-On Highlights create beautiful at-home highlights, the rubber applicator often slips off during use. Some users at MakeupAlley.com say they decided to forgo the rubber applicator altogether and paint the highlights on with a toothbrush instead. Many say, however, that the color is amazing. In the end, we chose to list Revlon Frost & Glow in our Best Reviewed section because user reviews are more plentiful and more favorable than those for L'Oreal Paris Touch-On Highlights. L'Oreal's highlighting kit is available in four shades: creamy caramel, toasted almond, golden honey and iced champagne.
L'Oreal Couleur Experte (*Est. $14) combines a permanent base color with a coordinating shade of highlights for a two-step process. It's still important, however, to choose a base color that is not too far away from your current shade. Some users at MakeupAlley.com, where more than 400 users give it 2.7 stars out of 5, say the color is not as expected, which is often a result of choosing the wrong hue. Several users at TotalBeauty.com (where it earns 8 stars out of 10 overall from more than 80 reviewers), however, are impressed with the highlights, but a few say that the process is not as easy as L'Oreal says it is. Couleur Experte is available in 18 shade combinations.