If your hair is color-treated, you can expect 1-2 levels of lift. If your hair is not color treated and is naturally darkest brown to medium brown level 4-6, you can expect 2-3 levels of lift. If you need help understanding what level you may be or what levels mean in hair color, here’s a handy explanation for you.

Dark brown hair to medium brown hair with highlights
medium brown hair to blonde hair with highlights

How to Set Your Tone

As important as the act of lightening your hair is the act of toning those highlights. That is, when lightening hair, you are exposing underlying pigment, or color. When lightening dark hair, you almost always expose warmth such as reddish/copper tones. If you do not want your hair to be this warm, you need to counteract it with a cool toner such as Lazio Cool Toffee. A cool toner will neutralize and balance your tone, refining your new highlights. However, if you welcome the warmth, try toner in Ardenza Warm Caramel for a soft, golden honey tone.


woman with brown hair before and after hair toner
Before And After With Hair Toner


Remember: not only is toner important for refining the tone of your highlights, but it also helps smooth and close the hair cuticle after lightening, making your highlighted hair look and feel soft and healthy.

The Mane Event: How to Highlight

We know it can be nerve-wracking to color your hair yourself, let alone highlight it. If you’re nervous, we recommend doing a test run on the application process using conditioner. That’s right—a day or so before you highlight, test out how you might apply Light Works using your regular conditioner. Not only will it condition your hair, but it will give you confidence for the real deal.

Watch a tutorial before you begin, then have fun with the process. Make sure you always hold the section of hair you are highlighting straight and taut, and apply enough Light Works that there is a visible layer of white lightening cream on your hair to achieve sufficient lightening.


woman with brown hair applying hair toner
Applying Hair Toner


How to Care for Your Highlighted Hair

No matter how gentle the process or how healthy the hair, highlighted hair needs a little extra TLC. We recommend using a bond builder once a week to strengthen hair and prevent breakage. Also try to minimize the use of flat irons, curling irons and blow drying, and maximize moisturizing treatments and deep conditioners. If you notice your highlighted hair is turning too brassy or the tone has turned, you can always use a toner to correct it.

So there’s your long answer to a great question. Yes, you can put balayage highlights dark hair, and yes, it will look gorgeous!