Do Highlights Damage Hair?

Hair highlights involve bleaching and coloring your locks a lighter shade than their natural hue, creating semi-permanent highlights that gradually fade as your natural locks grow out. I contacted some top hair stylists to find out whether highlights harm your locks.

Bleach Damage

Highlighting can be harsh on hair if too much bleach is applied for too long or if its strength exceeds what’s ideal for your specific hair type, leading to dry and damaged texture and the loss of natural oils from the scalp. This can result in rough and damaged surfaces and the failure of essential natural hair oils.

Regarding bleaching, there are ways to minimize damage while still achieving your desired look. Your stylist may suggest using a bond-strengthening lightener to reduce breakage. Wella salons provide Marula Oil Blend Scalp Primer to soothe sensitive skin while helping prevent bleaching-induced irritation. Additionally, regular haircuts will help remove split ends and keep your locks healthy. In terms of washing methods, opt for warm or cool water as this will be gentler on your scalp – follow it up with an enriching conditioner afterward for optimal results.

Split Ends

An experienced hair stylist or colorist takes years of training, experience, and talent. But even the best professionals can damage your strands if proper care is not taken when styling and coloring them. The bleach used for highlights can be an incredibly damaging chemical that changes your hair’s pH levels, leaving it frail and vulnerable to breakage – something especially true for curly textures, which naturally have dryer ends.

Foil-free balayage offers a practical solution, using paint-like pigments to lighten hair without hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Use a lightener with bond-building treatments like our BlondorPlex for optimal results – it contains our WellaPlex ingredient. It comes pre-mixed into its lifting formula to strengthen strands from within as you highlight them. With our argan oil hair heat protectant, you can maintain healthy and beautiful highlights between salon visits.

Hair Loss

Many people wonder whether it highlights damaged hair. The short answer is that it depends on several factors, including how much peroxide was used and the highlighting is done; highlighters bleach out each strand before stripping, which can result in some damage – particularly on fine-textured locks. Peroxide levels with higher percentages increase the chances of injury; stylists should only use as much peroxide as needed to achieve their client’s desired look. Certain hair textures, notably tighter curl patterns, may be susceptible to breakage.

Your clients must also commit to following a regular regimen and using products designed to maintain the health of their newly highlighted hair. As such, we suggest that they wait no more than 48 hours after getting highlights before washing their locks, using a shampoo without sulfates, to preserve the vibrancy of the new color in their locks.


Highlighting involves bleaching the hair, and although salon professionals use more gentle formulas than at-home kits, some natural pigment may still be stripped away in this process. Opening up the cuticle also risks leaving strands dry and brittle. Your choice of highlight will also affect how much damage occurs; traditional foil highlights lighten hair more than other methods and thus may increase damage levels.

Highlighting can cause various amounts of damage depending on how often and what kind of care routine is followed at home. By getting your hair highlighted regularly with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner products, damage should be minimal.