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Can you put blonde color over highlights?

When it comes to changing up your hair color, you may be wondering if you can go blonde if you already have highlights. The short answer is yes, you can absolutely put blonde dye over highlights. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you get the results you want.

What Happens When You Put Blonde Dye Over Highlights

When you apply blonde dye over existing highlights, the highlights will become brighter and blend in more seamlessly with the rest of your hair. The previously highlighted pieces will lift to a lighter shade of blonde, while the natural hair color will also lighten a few shades. This helps create a more cohesive, natural-looking blonde tone from roots to ends.

How much the highlights lift depends on a few factors:

  • The original shade of the highlights – darker highlights will lighten more than lighter ones
  • The underlying natural hair color – blonder natural hair color will lighten more than darker shades
  • The strength of the lightener in the blonde dye – higher volumes of peroxide will lift more

When applying blonde dye over highlights, the highlights essentially get colored twice. This double process can be quite drying and damaging to already highlighted hair. Taking extra precautions is important to maintain healthy hair.

Tips for Coloring Highlighted Hair Blonde

Here are some tips to follow when applying blonde dye over highlighted hair:

  • Use a conditioning color or demi-permanent dye to minimize damage
  • Opt for low volumes of developer (10 or 20 volume peroxide)
  • Apply a protein filler before coloring for more even results
  • Use a bond-building additive in the color to reinforce bonds
  • Only apply to the regrowth area first if doing roots
  • Process for less time than recommended to avoid over-lightening
  • Deep condition after coloring to restore moisture

Will It Damage Hair?

Putting blonde dye over highlights does carry a risk of additional damage, as highlighted hair has already been chemically treated. However, you can take steps to minimize the risk:

  • Avoid using high-lift blonde shades which contain more peroxide
  • Don’t overlap the lightener with previously highlighted pieces
  • Use Olaplex or Smartbond in the color to protect bonds
  • Shampoo less frequently and use sulfate-free formulas
  • Use hair masks and leave-in treatments to keep hair conditioned
  • Get occasional trims to remove split ends
  • Avoid heat styling when possible

As long as you take precautions, it is certainly possible to achieve a beautiful, blended blonde tone on highlighted hair safely and with minimal damage.

What Level To Go To?

When applying blonde dye over highlights, aim to lift your hair to within 2 shades of your natural level to avoid drastic lightening in one step:

Natural Level Target Level
Level 6 Level 8
Level 7 Level 9
Level 8 Level 10

You can always do multiple processes over time to reach your ideal shade. Trying to lighten too drastically in one application can lead to brassiness and damage.

Preparing Hair for Blonde Color

Properly preparing your hair is key to minimizing damage when applying blonde dye over highlights. Here are some tips:

  • Wash with a clarifying shampoo to remove residue
  • Use a protein treatment 1-2 weeks before coloring
  • Apply a conditioning hair mask before coloring
  • Blow dry hair thoroughly before applying dye
  • Divide hair into 4 sections for even application
  • Use petroleum jelly around hairline to protect skin
  • Wear gloves to apply color

Ensuring hair is clean, conditioned, and detangled will allow the color to saturate evenly for best results.

How Long to Wait Between Highlights and Color?

It’s generally recommended to wait 4-6 weeks between highlights and applying all-over blonde color. This gives the hair cuticle time to fully close and recover from the highlighting process. Coloring too soon can lead to compromised results.

You may be able to get away with waiting only 2-3 weeks if you’ve been regularly deep conditioning and using bond-building treatments to help strengthen hair in the interim.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the less overlap there will be between the highlights and color. This makes it easier to achieve a seamless tone from roots to ends.

Can You Do It at Home?

It is possible to put blonde dye over highlights yourself at home. However, it’s best left to professionals for a few reasons:

  • The precision of foil highlights is hard to replicate
  • Overlapping lightened pieces leads to damage
  • Achieving an even tone can be tricky
  • Coloring all the way to the roots risks staining the scalp

If you do color over highlights at home, use extreme care not to overlap lightened pieces. Work in small sections and watch development closely. Enlist a friend to help apply color to the back sections.

For best results, consult a professional colorist who can map out a plan to lift hair gradually while minimizing damage. This is especially important for drastic color changes.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Maintaining colored highlighted hair requires diligent upkeep. Be sure to:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo and cold water when washing
  • Apply a weekly conditioning hair mask or oil treatment
  • Use a purple shampoo to keep brassiness at bay
  • Limit heat styling and always use a protectant
  • Get a trim every 6-8 weeks to prevent splitting
  • Use bond-building treatments to reinforce hair

To keep your blonde looking fresh, plan to re-tone the highlights every 4-6 weeks. Roots will need touched up every 6-8 weeks. Minimizing fading between appointments helps maintain a beautiful blonde.


Applying blonde dye over existing highlights can lighten hair to a beautiful all-over blonde tone when done with care. Take steps to minimize damage by using lower volumes of developer, bond-building additives, and deep conditioning treatments. Always do a test strand first to assess how light hair can safely go in one process. With the right techniques, you can achieve stunning blonde highlighted hair.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I’m happy to provide more details about safely transitioning to blonde hair.