What effects does it have?

What is it?

Using chemicals to lighten or darken the colour of sections of the hair differently to other sections.

It's also known as Highlights, Lowlights, or Dip dye.

How long does it last?

The effects of the dyes in hair patterning may fade over time but will continue to have an effect until the hair grows out.

More information


The chemicals involved in hair colouring may cause an allergic reaction. It is very important to always perform a patch test first by using the chemicals on a small area 48 hours before applying it to the rest of your hair.

  • Highlights are when sections of the hair are lightened in colour, and lowlights are when articular sections of the hair are darkened.

  • Dip dye is a style where only the ends of the hair are coloured

  • Ombre is a style where hair near the top of the head is left darker, while hair at the bottom is lighter.

As with other hair colouring, hair patterning techniques use a lightening step called “developer” (usually hydrogen peroxide based), followed by one of a variety of dyes. Depending on the type of dye (in particular, the molecular weight), the dye penetrates the hair differing amounts. Dye that penetrates further will result in a longer lasting effect - from lasting a few washes to until the hair grows out.

However, hair patterning is performed on only sections of the hair. This is most often done by using strips of foil to separate the hair into sections. Other methods include using a cap which only certain strands of hair have been pulled through, or carefully painting colour onto certain sections with a brush (“balayage”).

An alternative method for adding areas of different colour to your hair is clip-in hair extensions. This has the advantage that you can clip them in or out whenever you like, compared to the more permanent effect of hair patterning.

Hair patterning will typically cost £50-100 depending on the complexity of the work to be done.

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Page last updated: August 2017