How to Darken Your Highlights at Home

Early this Summer, I decided I wanted highlights. I headed to the salon and brought along some photos. I asked for carmel highlights that added some dimension to my dark locks.

Obviously, it was going to be necessary to bleach my hair. I was fine with that. What I was not ok with was how the stylist did not tone or add color back into the highlights. There were sections that were quite bright. I asked the stylist to darken them and she acted as if this was a hassle for her. That is why I decided to give up with her and get it fixed somewhere else. When I left the salon, my highlights were bright yellow-white.

Problem was, I live in a small town. Most of the other stylists were booked or closed. It was also a Saturday. I knew nowhere would be open on Sunday. This was when I decided my only option was to DIY it. Sure, I was freaked out but I had confidence I could get it done. I googled the best way to go about this and read several articles. I then headed to Sally Beauty, bought my supplies and confirmed with the sales associate that what I was going to do was correct.

Disclaimer: This is a DIY method. I am not a cosmetologist, just a DIYer who needed a quick fix. If you are worried about what could happen or do not have the confidence, go to a professional. This is the way I fixed my highlights and it worked out great for me. Always do a strand test prior to a DIY attempt. This method will not add color back into highlights permanently. With this method, you are toning. The color will fade as you wash. Going from bleach blonde back to brown permanently is a different process. 

  • 1 tube of demi permanent hair color
  • 1 bottle of 10 volume developer
  • 1 brush
  • 1 dye mixing bowl

I used the Ion Color Brilliance line at the recommendation of my Sally Beauty sales associate. She said it was her favorite line, so I decided to trust her opinion. I already had the dye mixing bowl and brush at home (I regularly box dye my hair at home). I chose demi because I knew it would be a bit easier to work with if things turned out poorly.

The first time I did this I chose the color 7NB Medium Neutral Blonde (color shown in top photo). I read that neutral colors were the best way to go when darkening highlights. As Summer progressed, I went darker with the color to prepare for Fall. The second time, I used 6G Dark Golden Blonde. The last time, I used 3N Dark Brown.

  1. Read the directions of your developer and dye. It is important to find the ratio they require. My ratio of developer to dye was 1:1 or 2 oz:2 oz. For my brand, this was equal to half the bottle of developer and the full tube of dye.
  2. Mix the two in a bowl.
  3. Brush your hair and dampen it. I ran water on my hands, then ran my hands through my strands. You only want your hair to be lightly coated with water. 
  4. Section your hair off into easily manageable amounts to dye. I section my hair into fourths using a hair tie or a clip. For example, I part my hair down the middle. I section off each side of my head, then the top and bottom portions of the back of my head.
  5. Using the brush, brush the mixture onto hair from root to tip. It is easiest to take your smaller sections of hair into 2in x 1in sections of hair. Repeat across your hair. 
  6. Allow the dye to sit on your hair. You will notice your highlights darkening minute by minute. 
  7. Once your hair is to the level of darkness you are happy with (about 5-10 minutes), rinse it out. I purchased a brunette shampoo to bring out the natural tones and used a deep conditioner to lock in moisture. 
Good luck! I hope this helps other DIYers!