What to Do About Blonde Highlights Going Dull?

Jennifer Aniston flashes bright highlights at the Toronto International Film Festival.
... Jag Gundu/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether you're trying out a few face-framing highlights or regularly maintaining a headful of sun-kissed strands, you want your highlights to stay as bright and light as the day you got them. Chemicals, air pollution and even plain old water can fade and dull blonde locks, or worse, make them look brassy. Use the proper products and correct care to keep your fair hair looking fresh and bright.

Shampoo and condition your hair with products formulated for blonde, color-treated hair. While any color-safe products may be used on highlighted hair, using products designed specifically for blonde, highlighted hair will prevent brassiness, keep strands bright and offer the moisture needed for color-treated hair. Avoid products with sulfates, phosphates and paragons; these chemicals can strip out color, leading to faded and lifeless-looking highlights.

Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo every one to two weeks to remove stubborn residue, chlorine and product buildup, which cover highlights with a dull coating. Periodic use of a clarifier is especially important if you have hard water, which can turn highlights brassy.

Mix a crushed aspirin with a dab of your shampoo just before washing your hair. Aspirin's salicylic acid acts as a natural clarifier, removing highlight-dulling buildup and leaving stands squeaky clean and shiny.

Put on a hat whenever you're outdoors for an extended period to protect your hair from the sun. Harsh rays can fade your highlights or turn them yellow and damage your hair. Look for shampoo, conditioner and styling products that incorporate sunscreen to shield your hair from harmful UV rays.

  • Keep hair hydrated to maximize the shine of highlights. Highlights can leave hair dry, frizzy or prone to breakage. Combat dryness and keep hair soft and healthy with a weekly deep-conditioning hair mask or hot-oil treatment.

Hilary White is a professional writer and editor based in San Diego. White has been writing articles on fashion, style, fitness, nutrition, movies and entertainment since 1994. Her articles have been published in "Westways" magazine, "Pages" magazine, "Book Street USA," "Magill's Cinema Annual," and numerous titles from Visible Ink Press. White holds a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University.