Ask a Hairstylist: What to Do with Your Hair When Your Highlights Grow Out

Play them up or tone them down.

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Q: Hi Bill! I really enjoy reading the advice you give to other hairstyle guidance-seekers! My name is Meghan. I'm 26 years old and have had slight variations of shoulder-length to longer hair for most of my life. 

I just got back from a nine-month backpacking trip around the world, and now my generally fine and thick hair is the longest (and in the worst condition!) it's ever been. As you can see, my highlights have grown out about four inches.

Meghan is transitioning from backpacking to a new career.

I'm completely refreshed on life after all my travelling, and soon my husband and I will be moving to a new city and starting new careers... I think it's time that my hair gets a rebirth, too! 

I'm willing to go for any colour and length, and am looking for guidance on a style that fits my face shape, skin tone and active lifestyle; that looks classy but not old on me; is trendy and can be styled in different ways; and that doesn't require much more than half an hour of morning prep time. (This is even possible, right?)

I've also included a pre-trip photo from when I liked my hair best, in long, soft curls. To get this look for my longer length takes me an hour and half and a can of hairspray, so I don't end up doing it very often. 

Meghan's pre-trip hairstyle with curls and a darker colour.

Before the trip, I would condition every day and shampoo close to the roots every two or so days to avoid an oily scalp and drying out my ends. My general morning routine is a gentle blow-dry with a round brush. I try not to use too much heat on my hair and only use hair straighteners on rare occasions. 

Thanks in advance for your time, looking forward to hearing your thoughts! — Meghan

A: Meghan, super-cool to be able to travel for so long. With that lifestyle, hair is tortured...

I have to say that I really like your current colour, which is difficult to acquire on darker hair. I'm the guy that likes hair that shines, but for spring I would take your current colour to the next level.

Highlight the roots not as light as your ends, keeping some brown smudged roots. Then part closer to the centre. With this colour and your natural texture, you are good to go.

Jodi Gordon at the 2011 Who Sexiest People party.

Then in the fall I would consider a darker shade with a rinse that allows you to keep a soft highlight showing.

Jodi Gordon at the 2012 GQ Australia Men of the Year Awards.

Jessica Biel at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards.

Here are two options for a cut after you have had your way with the beachy blonde summer look:

Rose Byrne at the 2013 Chanel pre-Oscar dinner.

Kylie Jenner at the 2014 Imagine Ball.

I personally dig the second one with a slight asymmetrical line. This is an urban look that has a bit more edge, and you will not have to spend all of your time curling.

I hope this helps and works with this new chapter of your life.


Bill Angst is one of Canada’s top celebrity hairstylists and the owner of Angst Hair at 240 Queen Street East in Toronto. Call 416-360-5942 to book an appointment.

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