Question: I am planning on getting highlights. I am of south-Asian background. Currently my hair is black. Any advice?

Answer: Well, I’m Asian and I’ve had every hair color you could imagine. (I’ve even been Christina Aguilera blonde….but I digress!) As a hairstylist, I recognize the challenge of lightening Asian hair with highlights, so I’m going to give you a quick 101 on highlighting our hair texture.

1) Asians traditionally have extremely dark hair and the most pigmented hair. Dark hair can be challenging to lighten and sometimes takes longer to lighten.

2) Going lighter on darker hair typically means you will pull more red tones or orange tones. If you are trying to go Pamela Anderson (or, like me, Christina Aguilera) blonde, Asian hair tends to go very yellowy. If you are looking to achieve very pale highlights, you will probably end up damaging your hair, so proceed with caution.

3) If you’re trying to stay away from reds/copper tones, try lifting naturally dark hair tones with ashy colors because the “ashy” tones will cancel out the warm undertones. (Consult with a professional who understands your exact hair history before making any decisions here…)

4) Try going with highlights that look natural on you. When I was Christina Aguilera blonde, my hair was actually quite damaged and dry. Consider the option of only going a few tones lighter than your natural shade in order to maintain healthy hair. Of course at the time, no one could ever tell me not to go platinum blonde, so if you insist, be certain to take good care of your hair.

Good luck with your plan on going lighter. Change can be fun, but make an informed decision before changing your hair colour.

Written by Jason Lee, winner of Superstar Hair Challenge, Season 1

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